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.