Yes. You heard that right. When Temperance is worse than the Devil is when she encourages obsession.

Unless you find something to obsess about grand style, it’s not sure that anyone will take you seriously.

Why is obsessing about something a good thing? And when does ‘good obsession’ fail?

Today we won’t talk about the obsession with lost lovers, resentment and hatred, and other such addictions to people and objects, indeed, very much the domain of the Devil. Today we talk about the kind of obsession that grants you heavy caliber.

Many would swear that what makes you successful, personally and professionally, are basically two things:

Diligence and concentration.

Everyone understands what diligence and concentration are all about. They are about the capacity for endurance and focus.

Fair enough. But how do you apply this understanding to the practice of everyday life in a world where concentration span dwindles faster than the speed of light, with endurance becoming a thing of the past?

Athletes are closer to practicing concentration and endurance on a daily basis, but most who are not athletes must settle for the desire for focus and determination.

Desire desires desire, and that’s the trouble with it. Desire is not ‘doing it’.

Temperance, in her obsession with her chalices, comes very close to committing the faux pas of not realizing that in order for her not to be obsessed the wrong way, she needs to develop meta-awareness of her potential clinging to the idea of concentration and endurance.

Desiring mental stability – because it gives you access to discrimination and discernment – is one thing. Obsessing about being a champion at maintaining balance is another. The first has to do with detached desire, the second with desire that generates more desire, thus getting you nowhere.

The subtle lesson of Temperance is this: What you must make a note of, as you try to keep it steady, is the point when obsession kills it. Good obsession kills it perfectly. Bad obsession overkills.

Tarot de Mars, by Quentin Faucompré, 2012 (Photo: Camelia Elias)

Temperance is particularly helpful when a ‘lovers’ situation is on the table, because ambivalence and not being to able to choose sure overkills it every time; or when the Devil has you swim in hot lava, making you think it’s goat milk fit for the skin of an empress.

Some in the self-help arts will make a case for indulging your base desires, because supposedly these are the ones that disclose your ‘true’ power. That may be so.

The trouble is, however, that base desires are just that, base, and if they generate anything, then it’s more desire, desire for shifts, transformations, new identities, empowerments. Sometimes you can wonder where living the simple life is in all this desiring.

For true power you must dig stuff diligently and with a lot of focus. The purpose of this digging is to get you to understand that there’s nothing that’s important in the world. Deadly gossip and devilish excitement stemming from the insecure that will have you believe in all sorts of things are not important. This is what I said to the person I read the above cards for, who wasn’t sure who to listen to.

If you can develop obsession over something AND at the same time maintain this awareness, that there’s nothing that’s important in the world, you’ll be a champion at clarity, at seeing things as they are. You’ll be free from bullshit discourse and tactics whose aim is only to get you deeper into the illusion of how good desiring desire is.

A temperate state avoids falling into the Devil’s trap of desire, when there’s understanding of what is timely, and of how far a personal elastic can be stretched.

Finally, you may want to ask your cards this question, if you feel the need to check with your diligence and endurance:

What in my life kills it just perfectly?

Alternatively, you can take your art decks out of the drawers and look at your cards with fresh eyes.

For a guided tour, you’re welcome to Art Tarot, a one-day workshop filled with good obsessive fun, now open for registration.

Stay in the loop for cartomantic activities. The Art Tarot workshop takes place next Saturday. After the summer, it’ll be Lenormand time again.

About Camelia Elias
Camelia Elias, PhD, Dr.Phil., is a former university professor. After 20 years in the academia, she left her career to pursue her interests in teaching and writing on the philosophy and practice of reading cards. She works with contemplative arts, oracular language, and martial arts cartomancy and Zen at her own school, Aradia Academy. You can read more about the author here.
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