“When you’re learning to face
The path at your pace
Every choice is worth your while”Watershed – Indigo Girls
Temperance, the card bearing the number 14 in the Major Arcana, depicts an angelic being carefully pouring water from one chalice to the other while standing with one foot on the ground and one in the water. Beside the angel is a group of irises, which were the flowers used in ancient Egypt to assist in the crossover from this world to the Afterlife. In this way, the Temperance card can refer to a little death – perhaps the death of ego, or anger. It is the card which follows the Death card in the Fool’s journey, so it can also be considered the aftermath of an ending: The peace and tranquility needed to move on.
If you are familiar with the limbic system of the brain, you will know there is a section of it called the amygdala. The amygdala controls our emotional responses to external stimuli. It also determines how much empathy we have for others. If you have a small amygdala, you probably would not even consider giving a dime to a homeless man. If your amygdala is enlarged however, you are predisposed to being an empath and might just buy him a big, fancy dinner!
Because the amygdala is part of our middle brain, rather than our most highly-developed prefrontal cortex, the responses of the amygdala are more primitive. In fact, it is this portion of the brain which controls our fight-or-flight response. If you are often prone towards angry reactions over petty things, it is likely your amygdala is being hijacked and you need to seek Temperance.
For those who do not know how to ground themselves when they feel the hijack coming on, the feeling will escalate very quickly to either A) rage or B) a feeling of a loss of control of emotion, usually resulting in the desire to hide from the thing or person which brought on the hijack. Now I say brought on, not caused, because our automatic responses are our own. Only we can control the way we respond to outside situations or stimuli.
When a young man called me a few weeks ago to discuss a problem, I did not know how to help him at first. He was clearly distraught. I wanted to get him to a place where we could have a conversation about what was going on with him. His energy was so strong, I told him I could feel him channeling it through the phone and into me. This energy flow was out of his control at that moment and was causing his dog to bark loudly in the background.
He was confused why his dog was barking. I explained it was because he needed to bring himself down to a median state. His energy was not balanced. I told him he needed Temperance. Go take a walk near water with your dog, is what I told him. He needed to get grounded back to reality. His dog was sitting near a pool, he told me. Of course he was 🙂 Dogs often know what we need more than we do ourselves.
Funny thing is, I had changed my most recent painting that morning to include Temperance in it, instead of the Death card. I was dealing with a problem that I’d considered severing, but decided it was best to try to work with the problem instead of running away from it, as I usually would do. Just look at my previous job history; I am an escapist. Remember, fight or flight?
I’m slowly beginning to learn the art of the fight. It does not mean I am going to go around starting shit with people – that’s not my style. I’m a peace person. What it does mean, is I am no longer so doubtful of my power that I will just go along with what everyone else wants. No more.
A few days ago, I was driving back from Indiana and I took the 23-N towards Ann Arbor when I saw Exit 3, for Temperance. I’ve passed this exit many times and never stopped, so it felt right to do so this time. She was calling out to me. (I say she because I identify the androgenous angel of Temperance in the Tarot as a female energy.) I got off the freeway and went down the little country road towards the town. For a moment, I had a passing thought that I should just take the back roads the rest of the way home. I should have listened to myself, but c’est la vie.
Instead, I stopped at a farm stand and purchased a dozen fresh eggs and a bag of red popcorn. When I came out, I looked up to see a mourning dove looking over me. I felt protected and decided to head back towards the freeway. I would soon find it was the wrong choice.
I got on the highway and went a few miles, then bam, dead stop. I looked at my GPS and there were two accidents up ahead. The closer one was right around the same location I would have been had I stayed on the road based on the timing of when it had occurred, according to Google Maps. Deep breaths, Heather, you narrowly missed a crash by listening to your gut. Taking one little detour made the difference as to whether I would be here writing this moment or lying in a hospital bed – or worse.
Traffic stopped at 11:14 AM that morning. Prior to that, I had filled up the gas tank, ate breakfast, and had a cup of coffee in the car with me. The only thing I didn’t have was access to the restroom. As a former homeless person, I can figure that part out anywhere! No prob.
When I realized I was going to be stuck there for God knows how long, I knew it was time for Temperance, once again. I pulled out my copy of J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy and started reading the intro; I had been waiting until the right time to read this book. The book was there in the car in case I found myself waiting for something. Guess my gut was right about that, too!
About a half hour into it, I got out of my car and started telling people on the side of the road about how I had narrowly missed being in this wreck; here’s my business card, I do Tarot.
Have you ever heard of someone networking on the freeway during a traffic jam before? Well, now you have! It was me – no shame in my game.
Shortly after, the helicopter came to airlift someone out. I got back in the car and read some more. I had made a promise earlier to my woodland fairies that I would go pick up garbage in their field that day, but I knew it was not going to happen because of the traffic jam. I had considered doing it while waiting but I didn’t want to be out walking around if traffic started up.
Once the helicopter came, I knew I still had time. That was when I got out of the car, took my garbage bag and gloves, and started picking up trash near my car. I knew people thought I was crazy. (Most people do, I’m used to it by now.) One of the last things I came across was a steel watch. It was 6 minutes behind, about the same amount of time I had lost by getting off the freeway before the accident.
The night before, my sister-in-law had been showing me her watch and we discussed how I needed one for my Tarot reading sessions. I said I wanted a pocket watch. Conveniently enough for me, the band on this watch was broken, so that’s exactly what it became. My pocket watch.
About 6 minutes after finding the watch, traffic started moving. It was 1:14 PM. Exactly two hours to the minute. And what number was there in both of those times, but 14, Temperance.
The message is, when something happens that is out of your control, this is your opportunity to take the time to discover what the lesson is. Don’t be angry that you are stuck in a situation you cannot change. Resistance is futile and only causes more suffering.
Next time you find yourself in a traffic jam, think about it as an opportunity to reflect and be grateful that it’s not you being hauled off by a helicopter. “We are fortunate ones, I swear!”
Side notes: The birthday of the distraught caller a few weeks ago was 1/14. My fiance’s deceased partner, well that’s her birthday too. And 1+1+4 = 6.
One more interesting thing to note: In Donnie Darko, the reason why the alternate (or Tangent) universe will collapse is because an Artifact was created which didn’t belong there, a duplicate jet engine which had no place to go but onto Donnie’s house. I kinda wonder, is this watch an Artifact? The Philosophy of Time Travel states they are always made of metal. Just a thought…