Friday, April 18, 2014

The Temperance Card

I am very honored to be included in the 78 tarot project.  This is a global project that includes 78 artists, each making one tarot card for a collaborative deck.  My card is the major card "Temperance".  I thought I would briefly write a little about my process and why I chose the symbolism I did for the card.
First I sketched this out on paper with my first ideas for the work.

I wanted to include some of the traditional symbols of the Temperance card, but change them up a little.  Usually the card pictures an angel, often thought to be the Archangel Gabriel or an androgynous being, holding two cups and pouring water both out of and into each cup at once as if he is maintaining a delicate balance of the water (which is usually symbolic of both emotions and spiritual essence).  Gabriel stands with one foot on the earth and one foot in the water to also symbolize that delicate balance between our emotions and being grounded, or between the spiritual and the material worlds.
For my card I still chose to draw an angel, possibly Gabriel.  I have chosen to represent the two forces that need to be balanced as swans as swans are an animal that live both on the land and water.  For this reason swans are a strong symbol used in a lot of ancient myth the world over.  They were believed to travel across the veil into the Otherworld and can often lead people from this material world into the Otherworld, or spirit world.  One of my swans is painted black and stands in the water, the other is white and stands upon the earth.  The black swan represents the material world and yet stands upon the water of spirit.  The white swan represents the spirit world, and yet stands upon the material.  So in a sense I wanted to continually mix up these two symbols showing their need for balance or temperance, just as the water has to be continually balanced in the traditional card.
The swans are also standing in a defensive pose as if they might attack one another.  This is showing how these two forces are always at odds with one another and again our need for balance.  The triangle on her chest is a traditional symbol and represents the feminine energies being protected by natural law.
I changed up a few things from my sketch into the final painting, which was done in soft pastel and colored pencil.  Here is the final card:

The egg shape above the triangle is representative of the ancient Orphic Egg or Cosmic egg.  In ancient Greek myth the first hermaphroditic being hatched from the cosmic egg. The Temperance card is about bringing balance, patience, and moderation into your life.  The cosmic egg represents our dreams protected delicately at our heart, and shows the need to protect it, and to balance it in the middle of those warring energies of spirit and material needs, so that we can manifest those dreams when it is time.

Those are the main symbols in the card.  I had a lot of fun manifesting it.  Please be sure to check out the 78 Tarot project to see all the cards and learn about their creation.

The Temperance card original painting is also currently available.  Please contact me at if interested in purchasing.

1 comment:

Tammie Lee said...

hello Tammy,

I enjoyed reading your explanation for your gorgeous painting. It is rich in symbology and inspiration for your card. Such a wonderful thing to be part of!

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