Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Art in focus: 'Temperance'

In Tarot 'Temperance' is all about moderation, peace, tranquility and balance. You are on a path in life where you can see the bigger picture, surround yourself with a calm atmosphere and influences and the right choices will be clear. You have taken a middle of the road path in life and maintaining a Balanced perspective and avoiding extremes is the right approach for you. Patience is your greatest ally, remain calm, meditate, and the answer will come from within you.

Traditionally 'Temperance' is depicted as an Angel, pouring water from one jug to another, half on land and half in water. These basic themes are maintained in many different Tarot decks dating from Marseille Tarot to present day. They represent finding a balance in life and mixing the opposites to achieve that balance and avoid extremes. The Rider-Waite 'Temperance' largely follows the traditional imagery, with the usual addition of details which enrich the symbolism. The Angel is actually a hermaphrodite, representing the balance between genders, and the land represents the material world and water the subconscious, which they are attempting to find balance between. The jugs have been exchanged for cups, presumably to relate more closely to the Tarot suits, but largely the cards basis remains the same as it originally was.

Initially I really struggled to think outside of the box when it came to Temperance. No matter what quirky approach I took or unusual angle I tried to take the design in, it just wasn't developing. I took an in depth look at the symbolism and messages of the card and focused my thoughts around these points to eventually move forward with my design.
I decided to progress initially with the idea of tranquility, meditation and peace. I imagined a landscape which fitted this; a pool with tranquil waters, lush green grass and a calm sky. I also included a path, a recurring element in many of my Tarot which represents the journey through the Major Acarna. My figure is placed in the middle of the path, representing her middle of the road, balanced approach in life. Many representations of Temperance show the main figure half on land half in water to represent balance, but I couldn't imagine a way of achieving this without the posture looking awkward and forced. So I thought the most tranquil thing for my figure to be doing was bathing her feet in the water, while sitting on land. I felt that achieved a sort of balance between land and water, in a less obvious way. The figure, eyes closed, meditates in her place of calm and quiet. Her dress flows out onto the meadow where she is free and relaxed. In each hand she holds a cup (referring back to the Tarot suits) and is pouring red wine from one into the pool, while the pools purity flows into the other, defying the laws of the universe and hinting at her power and spirituality. The rejection of the wine and welcoming of the water represents her path of moderation and balance to which she has dedicated her very life.


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