XIV – Samech – Sagittarius – Support
Moderation, Inner Balance, Completion, and Growth
Art (Temperance in the Rider-Waite tradition) corresponds to the Hebrew Letter Samech, which symbolizes the support that God gives to everyone in order that they may live to their fullest, if they so choose. Samech represents the inspiration from God that gives us the ability to reason and to make art. The letter Samech is a circle, symbolizing the idea that all thinks come to an end, and then a new beginning will start – what difference is there between a beginning and an end? In this way, the ouroboros and infinity come into play through this letter, representing the divine truth and whole of God. This letter represents the rightness of the universe, and some of the forces seen in the card Adjustment make themselves known in this card as well, but on less abstract terms; Samech represents helping those in need, who have fallen, and welfare. The original pictograph of Samech is a shield, symbolizing the protectiveness and support of the letter.
Astrologically, Art is represented by the Sun Sign of Sagittarius, representing exploration, wisdom, and adapting to learning. The card of Art, then, represents wisdom (that attained by realization of the infinite nature of God) and kindness. One of the first things a truly wise man will learn is that too much or little of something can be disastrous. In the Rider-Waite tradition, this idea of moderation comes to the forefront, as the card is called Temperance. The card shows an angel, one foot in and one foot out of the water, pouring liquid in between two vessels, balancing it out. The idea of balance then comes into play, but on a different level than seen in Adjustment; this is not the divine balance of the universe, but rather the need to have a stable equilibrium in one’s own being and existence. The Thoth art shows a two-headed figure – representing two parts of a personality in balance (reinforced by the lion and eagle) – mixing an alchemical brew. Alchemy is the perfect example of the kind of personal balance this card alludes to, and also has an element of crafting something, and of art – the very name of the card!
This card, then, represents inner balance, moderation, and temperance. It also represents two (or more) things coming to their fullest selves in the company of one another – the completed lovers, and the consummated marriage (think of the circle). The card also shows two women, and so represents the fertility and potential for growth of any individual, as well as wisdom and art. This is the card of small-scale equilibrium and homeostasis; it represents creativity and the ability to adjust one’s own destiny. One having balance within oneself allows one to have harmony with others. The alchemical element of this card alludes to the ability to dissolve and combine things to make them something greater, so that 1+1=3.
On the Tree of Life, this card lies between the Sefirot of Tiphareth (Conscious Harmony) and Yesod (Essence of Being and Crystallization). Essentially, Art is the card that allows one to apply conscious harmony and balance to achieve one’s greatest essence of being.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role of self-regulation and inner balance in your life. It asks you to think about your relationship to the rest of the world, and to those you care about most. Is your life full? Are your relationships full? Reversed, this card’s energies are hidden or twisted somehow; perhaps your moderation is only on the surface, or is a temporary thing, or perhaps your harmony is false…