So first, make yourself a refreshing drink (I suggest a mojito, a cocktail that suits our purposes well—an especially appropriate recipe follows). Then put your feet up, get comfortable, and let's talk alchemy, which for our tarot-centered purposes today can be defined as the philosophical/spiritual study of transmutation and transformation (fine print: that is a very basic definition, a starting point only. But we must start somewhere, yes?)
You probably already know more about alchemical principles than you think you do—if you're a Harry Potter fan, you have already read an excellent seven-book primer. Here's J. K. Rowling on the subject of Rubeus Hagrid and Albus Dumbledore (their given names referring to the colors red and white respectively):
"Where my two characters were concerned, I named them for the alchemical colours to convey their opposing but complementary natures: red meaning passion (or emotion); white for asceticism; Hagrid being the earthy, warm, physical man, lord of the forest; Dumbledore the spiritual theoretician, brilliant, idealized and somewhat detached. Each is a necessary counterpoint to the other...."Opposing but complementary. Necessary counterpoints. Those are the key concepts of Temperance, not any Puritanical restraint. Don't think of doing without; think of tempering steel.
Look at the image. A winged angel come from the air to the earth, one foot in water and one on land, an upward-pointing triangle on her chest (the delta, an alchemical symbol for fire). That's all four classical elements, if you're counting, united by Spirit, represented here by the illumination around her head (an activated crown chakra, for those of you conversant in such things).
In other words, the Whole Shebang. And we haven't even begun to parse out how our angel unites the rest of the cards, which, like Temperance, are all major arcanas, the Great Big Deal cards of the tarot. But I will get to that next week, just in time for us to prepare for the summer solstice.
Stay tuned! Until then, may I present...
The Well-Tempered Mojito
10-12 fresh peppermint leaves
1 to 2 tbsp cane sugar (to your taste)
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 oz Very Good Rum (Ten Cane is my choice)
8 oz club soda
As much of this as one can do for oneself, do. Pick the peppermint. Juice the lime. Crush the ice. Grow the cane and distill the rum if one has a mind to do so. You Yourself are an ingredient, of course, so bring your best and most high quality efforts.
In a 12 oz glass, muddle the mint leaves and sugar and lime juice with a muddler or the back of a spoon. The idea is to extract the oils from the mint without tearing the leaves, so be gentle. Add the rum and stir until the sugar is dissolved—again, be gentle; there is a reason we're not using a blender here. When the sugar is dissolved, fill the glass with club soda and ice and stir the mint leaves up from the bottom with a long handled-spoon, preferably ancient and silver. Ponder the mysteries of the universe, and enjoy!
*Alchemy footnote: Like the Temperance card, all the elements are present here—peppermint and lime for fire, sugar for earth, club soda bringing both water and air (effervescence), and the rum providing the uniting factor of Spirit (what? you didn't think liquors were called spirits for no good reason, did you?). There's a nice balance of feminine and masculine energies. Plus the muddling and the juicing and the stirring represent the act of physical transformation, and as such, take effort and finesse and intention.