- Twin Mountains/Path/Radiant Crown - The symbol is similar to the
twin towers, path and rising sun on the Death card. It probably represents the same
mystical journey. Temperance lies on the central path of the Tree of Life in the
Golden Dawn system, so the
goal, KETHER = the Crown, is represented here.
- Irises - another word for Iris is “flag” and this may be an obtuse
further reference to the similarities with the Death card, where the rider carries a
“flag.” There may also be an obtuse hint in Waite’s reference to the works of Bayley.
In his Lost Language of Symbolism, the iris is shown forming the center of the
Mystic Rose (II, p 236). A simpler explanation is provided by Hulse
(The Key of It All, II, p 390) - the Goddess Iris is the
Goddess of the Rainbow - in Hebrew the word for Rainbow is Tav-Shin-Qoph
(keshet). This is exactly the same word used to designate Sagittarius (see Sefer
Yetzirah 5:4 in Kaplan), the astrological designation of this card in the Golden
- Red Wings - probably reference once again to the archangel Michael
represented with red wings on the Lovers and Judgment cards.
- Square/Triangle on Chest - these derive directly from Levi’s
description of the card in Transcendental Magic. The figure may also be a
reference to the Tattwa for earth sub fire (Francis King -
Magic, The Western Tradition, Fig 54 and p 26, and Israel Regardie -
The Golden Dawn, pp 456-8).
The possibility is made stronger by similar
Tattwa-like forms on the chests of Justice and Chariot. The possibility is made weaker
by the fact that the earth Tattwa should be yellow in color and the triangle should
be red. Levi mentions that the square triangle forms the septenary, and Waite echos
this in Pictorial Key. This card is the end of the second set of seven cards -
the end of the internal development and the beginning of the “dark night of the soul.”
Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross p 463 - The circle with the point in the center is
the alchemical symbol for gold = the end of the quest = perfection. (He uses this on
Hierophant, Justice, Temperance.)
- In The Secret Tradition Freemasonry (p 35), Waite shows an abstract
Masonic symbol that shares many of the features that he and Smith added to the
Temperance card. The Masonic symbol has the Tetragrammaton (seen at the neckline of
the angel on the card) with a triangle below (surrounded by a circle instead of a
square). The Masonic symbol has wings and a radiant halo and the circle and point
appears below the triangle at the joint of a Masonic compass.
Based on original research by Robert V. O'Neill. To add to this collection of information, please email
Robert V. O'Neill.