So in the middle ages Temperance was seen as total abstinence from the ‘bad’ pole. In other words, from sin.
But complete abstinence, being an extreme, inevitably creates its opposite—overindulgence.
We can see this with ex-alcoholics. When they quit drinking, they really QUIT. They don’t drink at all anymore.
But if they fall off the wagon, they never stop at one or two drinks.
No, they get dead drunk.
The same goes for diets: after a strict eating regimen, you’ll typically get not only your ‘old’ weight back, but a few extra pounds/kilos as well.
So just like ex-alcoholics, who drink uncontrollably when some stressful event triggers their addiction again, after diets people usually overindulge in food.
Total abstinence will sooner or later bring about its own opposite—overindulgence.
Most of us spend our lives oscillating between the two.
So total abstinence, the approach to temperance popular in the middle ages, simply does not work for most people.
Neutralizing the negative pole with the positive pole—the solution that the archaic world offers us—is certainly more healthy and effective.
The Angel Lady
After the middle ages, the idea of mixing the positive and negative pole has come into vogue again. But in the new tarot images the dominant influence seems to be Indian, not ancient Greek.
More about that in the next Temperance post.