Reconciliation is to understand both sides; to go to one side and describe the suffering being endured by the other side, and then go to the other side and describe the suffering being endured by the first side.
Thich Nhat Hanh
This week we continue journeying into the deepest dark of the year, as Autumn gives way to Winter (in the Northern Hemisphere). The long nightfall grows heavy with promise, but the rebirth is still weeks away. Thus, the arrival of yet another Major Arcana card, after the two in previous weeks, is a powerful omen. Let us welcome the great guardian Temperance.
“Temperance” comes from the Latin verb, “tempare” which means “to mix or combine.” While the Temperance Leagues during the days of alcohol Prohibition gave this word an association of denial and abstinence, Temperance is meant to teach that a virtuous life avoids extremism.
In the Waite-Smith card, an angel stands balanced between land and sea, between the physical world and the flowing unconscious. Waite does not explicitly name this heavenly being, but there is much evidence that this is the solar fire archangel Michael.
His right foot (which is traditionally a symbol of our conscious awareness) is dipped into the waters of the subconscious where he is able to quiet and deepen. His left foot (which is the unconscious) stands upon the land, indicating he is also grounded.
In the background, the yellow irises are a reference to Zeus’s messenger Iris, who traveled to the Underworld to fill Her golden cup with water from the River Styx, the river crossed by the souls of the dead. Such water, retrieved from the land of the dead, would bring the gift of life reborn, just what our deeply discouraged world needs right now.
In the background are two mountains, and between them is a glowing light that resembles a crown. This is the crown of Glory, representing the attainment at the end of the quest. It corresponds to the topmost position on the Qabala Tree of Life.
On his head, the angel wears the astrological glyph that represents the Sun, and upon his chest is a triangle with a square, a depiction of the Tetragrammaton, the holy name of the Divine in the Jewish traditions.
The square is the Syringa, symbolizing the Sacred Four. It is a very old symbol of equality, honesty, fairness, rational thought, and morality, in common use even today, when we talk about “square dealings,” thanks to the Freemasons and other esoteric traditions.
Within the square is the triangle, an equally old and powerful symbol representing Divine Mystery. From the hieroglyph “Mer” of ancient Egypt, which symbolized both the pyramid shape and the name Egypt itself, to the holy Trinity of Christianity, this three-sided shape has shaped humanity.
The triangle is the basis of the most sacred Hindu and Buddhist mandalas, especially the Sri Yantra mandala, which is the Yantra of Creation, depicting the OM mantra, the primordial sound of creation.
And in the Pythagorean esoteric traditions, with which ceremonial magick and the Order of the Golden Dawn were aligned, the triangular tetractys was the sacred symbol upon which they made their oaths:
By him that transmitted to our soul the Tetractys
The spring and root of ever-flowing Nature.
Indeed, flow is what Temperance is all about. Look closely at this beautiful card, and note how it is all about blending, moving, and the flowing waters of Mystery that are within and all around us. And as I have discussed before, if you were to trace the motion of the pouring, it would be revealed as none other than the lemniscate, symbol of Infinity.
As the card that follows the Death card in the narrative of the Major Arcana, it offers reconciliation and re-integration after great loss or change. It can be how we bring things back together and re-establish harmony after some extreme circumstance.
In it, the flow of life continues. In view of the incomprehensible global death and disruption from the pandemic, this card offers powerful guidance.
This Week Between Eclipses
In this year that has been overflowing with watershed moments, we are moving towards the climax of the 2020 astrology. Our friend Lorna Bevan writes:
During the two weeks between November 30th and December 14th, we are in the geo-physical seismic window of two eclipses. This is a place of potential, an opening, a place of choice and evolution, whose effects will ripple out until next June 2021. The eclipses light up the Gemini/Sagittarius axis of information and communication – a theme that is central to the radically different astrology of 2021.
Big new stories have already rolled out, with more to come as we head towards the historic Saturn /Jupiter meeting in Aquarius at the Solstice on December 21st, the first Great Chronocation in the Air element for hundreds of years…
This week, ahead of December 14th’s Total Solar eclipse in Sagittarius, there is nothing to do be, practice or ritualise – you definitely don’t need to impose change on yourself from the outside as the eclipse will do it for you in its own perfect timing…The exception is if you can feel something shifting or have one of those lightbulb moments, then go with it and go for it.
With Pluto square Eris for the 3rd time on Thursday 10th, the Sun opposite the karmic Node of Fate plus Mercury on the Great Attractor, expect more revelations as chickens to come home to roost with all the usual accompanying media hype.
The Great Attractor is huge mysterious gravitational force at 14°-17° Sagittarius – the most potent source of electromagnetic radiation in the known universe, it bends both space and time, giving a simultaneous view of the past, present and future. It has a resonance to the Creator’s Voice and is the seat of the Universal Source and cosmic balance.
Don’t miss this opportunity to:
- channel enhanced psychic perception/intuition
- perceive previously hidden or undisclosed information and patterns
- recognise your unique gifts and soulful energy signature
The challenge is to become a Free Agent paradoxically more integrated than ever into the great Web – the theme for 2021.
With Temperance balanced between the worlds, how are you now being given an opportunity to see your past, present, and future simultaneously?
(And by the way, if you want to learn more about how these eclipses are going to impact you, our other beloved astrologer, Elisabeth Grace, can send you your own personal overview for a very small donation. Go here and scroll down for the link to the Cosmic Tip Jar).
In several of his recent speeches, President-elect Joe Biden has urged us to listen to our better angels. Well, here is an angel with whom, as a practicing Catholic, he would surely be familiar. But regardless of our beliefs, now is the time for us to concentrate on the meaning and practice of personal Virtue — that is, the practice of personal excellence until it becomes our very nature.
This ancient concept is rooted in the idea that if we know who we are, and aspire to be better, then the right actions will naturally follow. In other words, the virtuous person just readily takes the good action in any given situation.
So… what is it really?
The origins of the word virtue are from the Latin virtutem (nominative, virtus) meaning “moral strength, manliness, valor, excellence, worth.” This is derived from vir which means “man.”
In its strictest meaning, as used by moral philosophers and theologians, virtue is an operative habit of good behavior.
The four classical virtues, as defined by the Greek philosophers are Justice, Courage, Wisdom, and Moderation (which is synonymous with Temperance).
The original Greek virtue was called sophrosyne, and focused on prudence, being of sound mind, and moderation of desires. But with modifications by Plato, this concept was later folded into the Latin verb, “tempare” which means self-control, as well as to combine, blend, and purify.
In a more modern interpretation of virtue, Martin Seligman, Christopher Peterson, and other researchers have challenged psychology’s tendency to focus on dysfunction rather than on what makes a healthy and stable personality. So they set out to develop a list of “Character Strengths and Virtues” applicable to the widest possible range of human cultures.
Although few if any virtues are absolutely and universally valued, Seligman and his team compiled a number of traits that are considered essential by an overwhelming majority of cultures.
Among those they established, all four of the classical Greek virtues emerged, including temperance.
Although nowadays this word has become much maligned and misunderstood, these pioneers of the positive psychology movement define it as a combination of forgiveness and mercy, humility and modesty, prudence and personal self-regulation.
The person who may be seen to possess the virtue of temperance is consistently balanced, grounded, and measured in word and deed. Sounds like just what the doctor has ordered.
In Balance for a World in Need
We find ourselves in a world of incomprehensible crisis. Could it be that part of the blame is on a culture that gives prestige to uncontrolled impulses, consumption, greed, and even violence?
In fact, it would seem that we are in very short supply of women and men that can carry themselves in quiet, calm balance. But they are urgently needed.
Do you know people who you might call temperate? They’re the ones who keep a cool head in a crisis, who enjoy a good time but never go overboard. This is not always the sexiest, most entertaining trait but perhaps temperance as a virtue should be reconsidered.
Especially since some of the most powerful men on our planet are also the most dangerously intemperate — flaunting their complete lack of self-control, soundness of thought, modesty, or poise. Thanks to their untempered selfishness and excess, hundreds of thousands of innocent lives have been lost, with predictions of worse to come.
In this exhausting year, our attempts to compartmentalize our lives have been overturned. Who we are when at home, or at work, or as parents, or as social creatures has become blurred and combined.
This is a hallmark of Temperance’s mixing, churning, and transformation. Its gift is to teach us to balance all aspects, creating magical combinations. We can now experiment and create an alchemy of harmony in new, more authentic ways.
There are cleansing rivers that run through us, that can offer healing and clarity to us, even as they continue to move and change us. Temperance offers a benevolent balance and reconciliation of dark and light. It is the middle path of tolerance, in which the extremism and polarizing destructiveness that threatens our civilization is no longer ignored.
Temperance teaches us to make peace by successfully combining and honoring all of our diverse elements both within ourselves, and in our greater human family. It beckons for us to cross the boundaries we have made, in order to understand the suffering of our sisters and brothers, and they, our own.
This week, let us find our sacred equilibrium, and welcome the flow of Mystery that has the power to mend us.