Tea and Temperance

Today, I found myself in a Tarot card.

In her excellent book 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card, Mary K. Greer spends a whole chapter on embodiment. (p183 ff) At its most basic, this means mimicking the posture or body position of the figure(s) on the card in questions in order to get a better understanding of the card. I believe, and more and more science is demonstrating, that we are inherently embodied creatures. Our metaphors like “cold shoulder” and “wash my hands of it” aren’t merely figures of speech – or more precisely, they are figures of speech because they reflect our embodied experiences, which run deeper than we might expect. Studies have shown unconscious physical associations with both of those phrases that directly affect how we perceive and interact with the world around us.

Greer’s example card for this exercise is the Four of Pentacles. While this is usually described as a “miser,” when I sat in the position of the person holding the pentacle in front of her chest and belly, I felt immediately as if I was shielding myself or warding something off. I wasn’t guarding the pentacle – I was using it to guard myself.

Today I had an insightful experience where I realized I was enacting another card: Temperance.

I love tea. I love it so much that I mention it on my “about me” page. But I’m not all that great at being extremely precise and exacting in my tea brewing, especially not first thing in the morning, or when there’s dishes in the sink and it’s easier to use the microwave than the kettle, etc. So most of the time, my tea tastes okay but not great. The universe has evolved a solution to this dilemma, though, in the form of the automatic teapot. I got myself one, and the heavens parted, the light shone down, the household spirits sang in harmony. Now I can drink great tea all the time. It’s fantabulous. (Those who think that labor-saving devices will lead irrevocably to decadence and the decline of civilization, sure, whatever, but at least we’ll be drinking good tea while doing so!)

But it’s also pretty dang heavy. The carafe has the heating element built into the bottom, so when you lift that plus a liter of tea, you’re suddenly handling something that’s not just steaming hot but also heavy for holding in one hand. As I was pouring from the carafe into my mug, I literally felt the transfer of weight between my hands, and noticed how much more comfortable it was to hold them both when they were more balanced.

Suddenly, there I was in the Temperance card, pouring between two vessels. But while most interpretations of this card talk about “mixing” two things, this interpretation was about weight.

A heavy weight is easier to bear when it’s more balanced. And all of you who have reached out to me, even in what you might think are “little” ways, are helping me keep my balance as I’m dealing with some heavy stuff. Thank you.

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About Literata

Literata is a Wiccan priestess and writer. She edited Crossing the River: An Anthology in Honor of Sacred Journeys, and her poetry, rituals, and nonfiction have appeared in works such as Mandragora, Unto Herself, and Anointed as well as multiple periodicals. Literata has presented rituals and workshops at Sacred Space conference, Fertile Ground Gathering, and other mid-Atlantic venues. Literata offers healing and divination services as well as customized life-cycle rituals. She is currently completing her doctoral dissertation in history with the support of her husband and four cats.
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6 Responses to Tea and Temperance

  1. Lori says:

    You’re in my thoughts far more than you know. :hugs:

    I love this! Reminds me of one of my favorites, Gestalt Therapy, where everything has different meanings depending on the context and situation. The cards can change their meanings based on surrounding circumstances and each of the individuals involved… but they are all valid interpretations.

    Gestalt would love the acting out of the cards to get a different understanding of their meanings. He’d probably make a person act them out over and over, each time more exaggerated than the next, noticing the differences.

    • Literata says:

      *hugs* Thanks.

      Yes, one of the things that makes Tarot such a rich system and differentiates between beginning and intermediate readers is the interplay of the cards forming their own contexts.

      As for the tea machine, well, you’ll have to come visit and enjoy the wonders of Better Living Through Technology…and tea! :)

  2. Lori says:

    P.S.
    I’m TOTALLY jealous of the tea machine!!! ; )

  3. Grafton says:

    Beautiful series of insights!!! Thank you! and *hugs*

  4. Interesting post, especially as the deck I use the most has not only the “mix” aspect to the card in its accompanying book, but also the “balance” aspect.

    The Mythic Tarot has Justice and Temperance as being counterpoints to one another. The down side of Justice is to see things as ONLY shades of black and white while the down side of Temperance is the tendancy we sometimes have to get ‘stuck’ looking for the ‘right mix’ in the situation (opposites to each other)…..

    *hugs*
    *hopes that your Imbolc was bright*

    • Literata says:

      Thanks, Anne. Imbolc was good.

      That’s an interesting take on Justice and Temperance – I’m going to have to add that to my Tarot interpretations notebook. Thank you! Do you find you like the rest of the Mythic Tarot?

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