The symbolic interpretation of the Tarot card 14 – Temperance by Dr. Linda Gadbois
In the occult sciences all “numbers” represent powers or potencies, laws or agencies, and conditions or effects. All double numbers exist as a formula of principles utilized in performing an operation, and are added together to form a single digit number as the primary law involved. All numbers are correlated with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, which also represent principles and powers of creation and transformation. When we look at the number 14, we have a process indicated by 1 and 4 in undergoing the operation indicated by 5. Our formula is represented by the equation of 1 + 4 = 5. All of what we call “laws” is actually the processes that are at work in any situation as the basis for creating the material world. The laws themselves are what you can think of as the invisible forces that energize, organize, and animate the material world. 1 represents mental power of concentrated thought that forms the basis for all manifestation, represented by 4, and 5 is the basic principle of “mind over matter”.
We form a basic translation of the meaning of numbers by utilizing a system of correspondences as a chain of associated ideas (intuitively). All major systems of spiritual sciences (Qabalah, Tarot, Astrology, Sacred Geometry, Numerology, etc.) can be used as the means of translating each other in order to find their shared meaning. The number 14 represents the principle of Temperance and the Art of Transformation in the Tarot, and corresponds with Tiphereth (5th Sephiroth) in the Qabalah Tree of Life. The Hebrew word assigned to 14 is Samekh, which means support, foundation, or what holds something up. It’s what makes the house secure as its foundation. It’s that which sustains, preserves, and maintains our personal existence.
The literal meaning of the Hebrew noun is “quivering” or “vibration”. Vibration is the fundamental power of the fiery force (fire) that makes sight possible. Sight is the sense that observes what has manifest as a sensory experience and is the function represented by Key 4. The fire element is represented by the “lion”, which is associated with “strength” (Key 8), and the value of Geburah in the Tree of Life (Qabalah) as “severity”, which is the strength aspect of 5 (Tiphareth) . The quality associated with Temperance is wrath, which indicates a strong action that causes a quivering or trembling (vibration) movement, and is represented by the Hebrew word RVGZ, which is translated numerically through the Keys of the Tarot forming: R=19 (value of 200), V=5 (value of 6), G=2 (value of 3), and Z=6 (value of 7). When added together they form 216, which equals 9. When translated using Astrology we get: R = Sun, V = Taurus, G = Moon, Z = Gemini > 19 + 5 + 2 + 6 = 32 = 5, the reduction of 14. Five is symbolized by the Hierophant as the higher-self working to create on the lower plane through the 2 lower aspects of the self-conscious and subconscious mind. In Sacred Geometry it represents the Pentad as the 5th element of the ether that resides over the 4 Elements of the lower plane. It symbolizes “mind over matter” and our ability to change our physical constitution using the power of our mind to alter our vibration.
Vibration is the basis out of which all physical forms manifest. Vibration is essentially a sound (spoken word) that organizes light (matter) into the meaning as an image associated with the word. Sound as an inner voice is the mode of consciousness associated with the Hierophant as “hearing”. Our 5th chakra is associated with the throat, and “will” as calling forth (speaking) the reality of the vision formed in the 6th chakra of the imagination. Vibration is a fluctuating motion as an undulation, pulsation, and alternation that creates a “wave-form”. A wave is formed through the polarity of complementary forces that work together as a single entity. This indicates the combination of rhythm and cycles, represented by Key 10 as a completed cycle of formation and growth. 10 = 1, this represents concentration on an idea in a single-minded fashion and the attentive observation of experience.
The mode of consciousness associated with 14 is Tentative Intelligence as “probation” or “trial”, because experience is the true test of all ideas. All theory is put to the test of practical application. As we apply an idea to our life, we produce an experience. We can then modify it by working directly with the experience. As we set an idea into motion we set up a kind of “feedback loop” where we begin receiving direct feedback as to the effectiveness of our application. This feedback is recognized by paying close attention to what we’re experiencing as we apply an idea to our everyday life. Based on the feedback we receive, we modify our idea until it produces the experience of reality it claims to. All learning as the means of acquiring knowledge through experience comes through experimenting with an idea through trial and error.
Temperance means to temper and modify something through a process of “adaptation” (Key 5), which is the basis of all practical work. All things are birthed as the adaptation of a universal idea to produce a personal version of the same idea. As we draw on an archetypal idea, we adapt it to our mental paradigm and the life situation we plan on utilizing it in as a means of creating an experience, and modify it accordingly. To adapt is to make adjustments necessary in order for it to work within a special set of circumstances. As we adjust an idea we undergo a constant process of equalization in order to coordinate it harmoniously with all other existing ideas. “Equilibrium is the basis of the Great Work”. The art of transmutation comes by applying universal knowledge through experimentation in order to “grow” in a continuous manner.
The image most commonly associated with Key 14 is an angel standing with one foot on land and the other in water, holding a container in one hand filled with water being poured onto the earth, and a wand in the other hand that’s directing a flame downward, combining water and fire as the passive (form) and active (life-force) aspects that form the same thing. A rainbow connects both sides of the angel’s wings, and symbolizes a bridge that unites the two minds in a harmonious and balanced state. By changing the proportion of the qualities being combined, we alter the results. The colors of the rainbow (7) reveal the hidden nature of light as interwoven frequencies that blend together to form a unified whole. Vibratory qualities exist as complementary pairs of opposites that are extremes of each other, and are used to modify each other.
The pool of water represents the subconscious which is the seat of automatic consciousness as the “vital soul” of man (light body), which is regulated and directed by the higher-self, represented by Tiphereth (5) on the center of the Tree as an equilibrated state. Water is influenced by the Moon (as instinct) and symbolizes emotion and memory (which are always connected) that takes the shape of its container and “informs it”. This is the same pool shown in Key 18, called the Moon, which symbolizes the subconscious. The rolling hills in the background imitate the motion of a wave as peaks and valleys, which is the characteristic as a “range” of all forms of vibration. A path rises from the pool and undergoes many cycles of growth by adapting too many life situations and circumstances, which serve to modify and grow it accordingly.
The angel is wearing a crown designed as a headband with a “Monad” directly over the forehead, representing the 3rd-eye where archetypal ideas are translated into visual images that become the creative instructions for the subconscious to produce as an experience of reality. The attainment of higher consciousness comes as self-mastery where we master our lower nature to create the kingdom of the Higher Soul. Key 1 symbolizes attainment through self-realization of perfect union with primal will. Wisdom and Understanding (Chokmah and Binah) are only attained through experience. All of our experiences are created by how we’re using complementary aspects of our mind to produce our reality. If we don’t like our experience of reality, then we need to change the thoughts and ideas we’re using as the means of creating it.
The number 7 (7 + 7 = 14) represents creative expression as a variation produced through the adaptation of an idea to a practical situation that modifies it. In Sacred Geometry, the Heptad (7) is comprised of 7 angles within a circle that have no precise measurement, and so each time it’s drawn or constructed, it’s a unique variation of the same shape. 7 is the number that represents “will” as our innate ability to select a new idea and apply it in order to create something new, or transform what already exists into a new variation. We take a new idea and start by forming it in our imagination as a possible reality that serves to provide us with a kind of template for applying it.
As we apply an idea to create an experience of it, we constantly modify it based on observation of what results, until we get it just the way we want. Over the heart center of the angel is a “7 pointed star” which has reference to “skill”, because the circle must be divided into 7 equal parts that can only be estimated through trial and error. Above it is written the Tetragrammaton as the 4-letter name of God (YHVH), which is actually a formula for creating as Will, Intellect, Sensation, and the manifestation of the intellect (idea). The 7 points represent the 7 aspects of God, the 7 colors of the spectrum, 7 notes of a musical scale, 7 planets of astrology, 7 alchemical metals, and the 7 energy centers of the subtle body. All of which form correspondences of each other.
One foot is in the pool of water = the cosmic mind-stuff of the astral plane (imagination), and the other on land = physical reality produced by the mind, and the body which bridges the two as the path we walk. The two instruments, the vessel and wand, represent the subconscious and self-conscious, and the body that holds them is the soul that utilizes them as the means of creating. They flow one into another. What’s below streams from above, and what’s above is reflected below (4/Tetrad). The inner and the outer are a single stream of consciousness where one is a continuation of the other in symbolic form. Opposites act on each other to temper each other. Thought and emotion always exist in union where one gives rise to the other as an intimate interaction.
The Holy Guardian Angel deciding and administering the whole process represents our Higher Divine Self-Soul, who makes all of our tests and trials that lead us along the path of attainment. We are always the “One” acting on ourselves within multiple planes of manifestation. We exist simultaneously on two primary planes that are comprised of 7 levels of consciousness. This arrangement (image composition) is the same as the Hierophant (5) and the Lovers (6), which both show a higher being (priest and guardian angel) overseeing a young couple (male and female), where three aspects of our selves operate as if they’re one on two levels of reality. This triangular configuration represents the 3-aspects of the mind as the Higher or Super conscious, the subconscious (feminine) and self-conscious (masculine), and the two levels of reality they exist in simultaneously.
Some pictorial composites show an arrow shooting upward, representing that we have to shoot for a definite mark or goal in all of our practices. Never accept theories or statements of others as being true, no matter how plausible they may seem, until you’ve tried them for yourself by applying them practically to create an experience of them. Always test ideas through actual practice. We only “attain” knowledge through experience, and we only transform and grow ourselves through creating experiences of ourselves that bring self-realization. The whole purpose of ageless wisdom is to provide us with the theories as the basis for actual practice. It’s not designed to persuade you to accept ideas as being true through a form of blind faith. Truth can only be known through direct experience. The only true failure in life is the failure to try. Anyone who accepts an idea as being true without trying it is foolish in the most basic sense and unintelligent. All spiritual knowledge is meant to provide us with the means for growing ourselves to higher and higher levels of wisdom and understanding. It’s only by trial and experimenting with ideas that you realize truth and the power that makes the experiment into something higher than your personality.
It’s our experiments that alter us by equalizing and coordinating our vibratory (energetic) activities. We only truly “know” by becoming one with an idea as a reality that brings realization and deeper insights into our own higher nature. Everything in the manifest world is vibrating at a certain frequency, and all forms of vibration are modified by mental means and control. The entire cosmos is mental in nature. All reality is birthed through a concentration of the mind on an idea. This path (14) leads from the moon of Yesod to the Sun of Tiphareth as the higher soul working through the agency of the subconscious and self-conscious to form the etheric body (Yesod) of Light (7), which forms the vibration as an energetic blueprint for ordering and animating the material body.
This idea represents the consummation of the Royal Marriage (Lovers) where the feminine and masculine are united to form a single androgen. All transformation comes by using the self-conscious mind to seed the subconscious mind with an idea for creating as an outer experience. We change our vibration and transform our physical world through a counter-exchange of qualities that form equilibrium as the inner made the outer and the outer an extension and reflection of the inner. By forming new combinations of positive and negative qualities of the same idea, we adapt the inner to the outer and modify it into a new variation as a growth process based on experience that develops us in new ways. The robe of the angel is green, symbolizing Venus, the imagination, and the plant kingdom. All actual material objects are regarded as “dead” (fixed) by the symbolism of science. The problem with transmuting metals is that they don’t grow. Our first task in transforming ourselves is to return fixed ideas (minerals) back into a state of growing and evolving (vegetative). The best way to do this is by imitating the processes of Nature.
When fire and water are harmoniously mingled, will and sensation form thought as air, which becomes the astral seed for manifesting as a reality. Once manifest, the manifestation itself doesn’t have the ability to change itself, only the mind as thought has the ability to alter the light body that’s used to organize it. It’s only by changing the “qualities” as the formula being used that alters the manifestation that results. By changing the frequency an idea vibrates at, we change the energetic pattern organizing it. We use complementary opposites to reformulate it by mingling contradictory elements in order to modify it. We transform existing manifestations by modifying the qualities being used to form and animate it. The Alchemical Marriage comes by forming new combinations of fire and water that alter the astral body of light and vibration. The formula for continued life is death (13), traditionally symbolized by the raven on a skull. The Greenman of spiritual folklore is the “dreamer” and “redeemer”. It’s through dreaming that we continue to grow. When we quit growing we begin dying.
We only transform through growth that develops new qualities as a way of being and seeing. By using complementary opposites of the same frequency we embody new qualities as a state of mind. The internal process comes by using the hidden stone (Pineal) V.I.T.R.I.O.L., which is considered the universal solvent. This hidden stone, also called the Philosophers stone, is the Universal Medicine as a “tincture” that’s formulated by adding new properties that serve to transform the constitution of the whole. Purification comes by transforming weakness as passions into strength as intelligence. The only real difference between dead and living things is their behavior and activities.
The term “vitriol” represents the balance of 3 things, symbolized by the 3 alchemical principles of sulfur, mercury, and salt (Key 1,3, and 4). Ideas that we use to seed our imagination are gestated and developed to form our physical reality. All creation comes as speech (words) that are felt as an experience. Our vital body is formed by will, intellect, and sensation, and is what forms the energetic blueprint for producing our experiences of reality. Creating a new living substance is the path of the Higher Will which operates on the lower self by planting a seeded idea in the imagination where it gestates and grows into a manifestation as an equivalent outer experience. A talisman is commonly used to represent an idea that’s grown in the imagination and birthed as an outer experience of the same kind. It’s a vision introduced into our mind that forms our voice and directs all of our activities. It’s a combination of forces, realization, and action that form a feedback loop and provide us with the basis for making accurate calculations. We use an idea translated into an internal representation of a possible reality as the means of providing us with a template for transforming our self by producing new experiences. Whatever reality we formulate inwardly becomes the basis for experiencing outwardly.
Transpersonal Psychologist, Mind-Body Health Consultant, and Spiritual Teacher
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