Queering the Tarot: Temperance


Cassandra Snow takes readers on a queer tour of tarot reading. Check out the first thirteen parts: Queering the Tarot: Death, Queering the Tarot: The Hanged Man, Queering the Tarot: Justice, Queering the Tarot: The Wheel, Queering The Tarot: The Hermit, Queering The Tarot: Strength, Queering The Tarot: The Chariot, Queering the Tarot: The Lovers, Queering the Tarot: The Hierophant, Queering the Tarot: The Emperor, The Empress, and Archaic Gender Roles, Queering the Tarot: The High Priestess, Queering The Tarot: The Magician, Queering the Tarot, and Queering the Tarot: Let’s Start at the Very Beginning

The Temperance card is a beautiful card of balance and harmony. If it shows up in a reading positively, it indicates that a karmic balance will soon swing in your favor, and if it is surrounded by unfavorable cards it is reminded you that life requires hard times as well, but that you will come through this favorably. As such, most popular incarnations of the card include visions of rainbows—a promise that the rain always ends. This card teaches a crucial lesson about staying balanced and harmonious within ourselves and in the world around us too, and it is in this note that we begin Queering this card. While balance and inner peace are important for everyone, these lessons from Temperance hit a little harder for those of any marginalized identity, and that brings us into the queer community and meeting their needs in a reading.

It’s important to recognize how much harder finding harmony in your life and self may be when you’re trapped in a situation where you have to be closeted, and especially if you are at a point where you’re not even sure who you are or how you identify. Additionally, outside clatter from queerphobic people in our lives and harmful media messages can create a wholly unbalanced self, no matter how hard we try. Frequently if Temperance shows up in these readings, it’s likely showing up as a reminder that finding a balance is both necessary and difficult. Surrounding cards will tell how to navigate this fine line, but certainly when queering this card, Temperance goes from being a peaceful image of someone filling one cup without depleting another, to being an image of someone stranded on a tight rope and having to stay calm. Occasionally in a queer-centric reading, Temperance does show up bearing good news. If we are asking about the outcome of a situation where our sexual or gender identity plays a part and we receive Temperance as an outcome instead of advice, the promise of the rainbow (an obvious symbol not lost on many querants) and the promise of harmony are what’s important.

Balance and harmony mean something different in the Temperance card when we start looking at our careers or any sort of vocation. In this case, this card’s lesson is that you should be seeking a situation where you can combine the things you love with the things you’re good at, and achieving balance that way. You should then also be using that energy to move in the world creating harmony with your steps. In short, Temperance frequently shows up for queer seekers as a sign that it’s time to move into an activist role within your local LGBTQQIAP+ community. You are being called on to make the world better by using your own voice and story to motivate yourself and create change, and you are being called on to create satisfaction for yourself the same way. In queering the tarot, this is the most common interpretation of this card that I’ve seen come up. The time to be a part of this community has passed, and it is now time to ascend into either a supporting role for other queer folk, or a leadership role in making change.

The Temperance card also speaks to moderation, and how important it is. As we seek to retain balance in our lives, that also means we can’t fill one cup by depleting another. That first message of self-care that I talked about is crucial for that. You can not solely pour your energy into activist work or your gender or sexual identity. It is so tempting to do so — I frequently have to pull back from things because I’ve lost sense of who I am beyond “queer.” It’s completely natural to give into this temptation once we find people that accept us, but we are whole people and it’s important to monitor and nurture our other identities too. I’m also an artist, a geek, a witch, a damn good sister to siblings by both blood and choice, and so many other things that deserve my attention sometimes. Even as I, and many of us, make my money, my art, my life around queer things, it is important to nurture all sides of that beyond the identity itself.

Moderation is also an incredibly important message for querants from our community because we have a really rad sober community within the larger queer community, and it’s wonderful that those resources are out there. That being said, the literal lesson of moderation within the Temperance card is to monitor your vices and escape mechanism’s closely, and make sure you’re not overindulging. Drug and alcohol abuse are a fact of any group in society, but I know for queer clients this issue has specifically come up as a reminder not to go too far, or for those in sobriety as a reminder that life balance is ultra-key to continuation of sobriety.

Temperance is one of the trickier cards to read for someone else, because one person’s balance is another’s chaos. Check in with yourself or the seeker to see what resonates as you talk through this card. It is arguably one of the most individualized in the deck, but delving into it a little deeper and relying on other cards to fill in the bigger picture will provide the crucial messages for a queer client.

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