Temperance - Nun
This maiden fair now has avian wings and is clothed in modest angelic garb that features long sleeves and a long skirt. With vessels in her right and left hands, the liquid is neither lost nor gained. The symbolism with this hieroglyphic icon is quite the opposite of that which is featured in the Star hieroglyph, where an unclothed maiden is pouring water from her two vessels onto the water and onto the land.
The name of the 11th character of the ancient alphabet is linked to the 11th hieroglyphic symbol of the Tarot. The original design of this character (pre-1200 B.C.) looks like this...
The name of the fourteenth letter of the ancient alphabet is נון. It is created from the biliteral root that is formed by repeating this letter twice. There are two primary meanings that are associated with the words formed from either this root or merely from the letter itself, which is the precursor the modern letter N. The first is that of being prolific, while the second is the perception of the negative. From the sense of being prolific, the most popular meaning of this word is derived, which is the meaning of “fish,” which is derived from the sense of being prolific due to the high rate of reproduction present in these creatures. The obvious etymology of the concept of the negative that is associated with the consonant N is rather apparent in a plethora of terms, including the words no, none, neither, nor, nope, and negative.
Abstinence as Temperance
When the reproductive element of this character is objectively examined and the masculine and feminine elements of its biological nature are more thoroughly considered, the dual meanings of the name of this letter become a bit more clear, which is the obvious balance that is to be found in the moderation of the animalistic passions associated with this type of energy. The meaning of “to be prolific” is obvious enough, and the association of the letter's name with the negative could then be seen as the rational control of the emotional and physical aspects of the reproductive process so as to allow for a more centered realm of power.
Temperance of the Rider-Waite Deck
In the text that accompanies the Rider-Waite deck, A. E. Waite writes, “A winged angel, with the sign of the sun upon his forehead and on his breast the square and triangle of the septenary. I speak of him in the masculine sense, but the figure is neither male nor female. It is held to be pouring the essences of life from chalice to chalice. It has one foot upon the earth and one upon waters, thus illustrating the nature of the essences. A direct path goes up to certain heights on the verge of the horizon, and above there is a great light, through which a crown is seen vaguely. Hereof is some part of the Secret of Eternal Life, as it is possible to man in his incarnation. All the conventional emblems are renounced herein.
So also are the conventional meanings, which refer to changes in the seasons, perpetual movement of life and even the combination of ideas. It is, moreover, untrue to say that the figure symbolizes the genius of the sun, though it is the analogy of solar light, realized in the third part of our human triplicity. It is called Temperance fantastically, because, when the rule of it obtains in our consciousness, it tempers, combines and harmonises the psychic and material natures. Under that rule we know in our rational part something of whence we came and whither we are going.”
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