The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union of Australasia (later renamed the National Women’s Christian Temperance Union of Australia) was formed in May 1891 at a meeting held in Melbourne for the purpose of federating the existing Colonial Unions. This was probably the first interstate gathering of women’s organisations held in Australia and the Union was the first national women’s organization in the country. The first branch of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) had been formed in Sydney in 1885. Although the primary objective of the organisation in Australia, and worldwide, is the prohibition of, and/or individual abstinence from, alcohol, the Union has been involved in a broad range of social and political reform activities. It was particularly active in the campaign for women’s suffrage in Australia from the 1880s, and the National Union included a Suffrage Department from its inception.
Temperance is almost invariably depicted as a person pouring liquid from one receptacle into another. In many decks, the person is a winged person/angel, usually female or androgynous, and stands with one foot on water and one foot on land.
As it slips out of a deck filled with hard hitting images like the 3 and 10 of swords, Temperance does not induce a full on panic attack. It appears to adopt a more mellow, a gentler approach to the challenges of life on this spinning rock.
This card is said to indicate that you should learn to bring about balance, patience and moderation in your life. You should take the middle road, avoiding extremes and maintain a sense of calm. Beyond simple ‘moderation’, Temperance has been likened to “honing a fine recipe”.
Are you a person who has mastered the art of finding balance at all times? For most of us, the answer is no. It is part of the human experience to look for harmony and equilibrium. Finding it can bring great joy and relief. However, for most it is a fine balance and one can easily tip the scales.
Temperance points to moderate or halfway points on anything we may view on a linear spectrum. This might mean simply choosing the ‘middle way’ – even sitting on the fence – in decision-making. Or it may be about tempering extremes, however they are showing up in your life.Little Red Tarot
It will come as no surprise that compared to sister struggles the Women’s Temperance movement, with its moral obsequiousness, and failure to occupy the halfway point, has gained more than a bit of a bad reputation. This is not to say however, that in this era of alcohol induced domestic violence it did not have a point. The movement of so called “nagging housemarms”, might well be better understood as a mass movement against, you got it in one– domestic violence.
The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union of Victoria (WCTU), Australia, was founded in 1887, bringing together the twelve pre-existing branches spread around Melbourne and Victoria into a colony-wide union.
Marie E. Kirk, a Quaker who had recently migrated from London, and Armadale’s Congregational Minister, the Rev. Philip Moses, assembled the first Organising Conference in 1887 which elected Mary M. Love as president. Love, from West Virginia, had been a member of the United States’ Woman’s Christian Temperance Union before relocating to Melbourne during the previous year.
There is not a lot to be found about Marie Kirk who was said to appear be a ‘rather fragile, delicate little woman’. However, never to be underestimated, her ‘passionate earnestness’, ‘winning manner’ and ‘more than ordinary’ organizing ability made her ‘the heart of the movement’.
Just as, at first meeting, Marie Kirk might have been underestimated, Temperance, as one of the oldest cards in the tarot deck– called “Art” in Thoth decks– is deceptively gentle. This is a powerful spiritual card which focuses on blending opposites. The magick of Temperance is that it encourages us to occupy liminal space, that in-between space where we display restraint, and perhaps even healthy compromise. This card indicates that you should learn to bring about balance, be tempered and display patience and moderation in your life. You should take the middle road, avoiding extremes and maintain a sense of calm.
Exploring Temperance Further
In the Rider Waite illustration, a genderless angel is pouring gravity-defying liquid between two cups. This is a traditional symbol of this cardinal virtue, and it represents diluting wine with water– a blending of polarities/opposites.
Check out this Guided Tarot Meditation
In your journal create a character and write a piece, using the information gleaned in the meditation.
Consider where are you balanced and in harmony in your life?
Where do you think you could be more assertive?
Stop and consider when fear, anger, joy, love is fueling your responses. Identify when you spin out of control?
Name any excesses, such as wink wink, Deck FOMO and consider how you can bring such excesses into control.
What does restraint and moderation feel and look like to you?
Where are you unbalanced, over-compromising, or overreacting?
Test run the Labyrinthos Temperance Spread