Tattoo Tarot Project

Pat Fish: Contributing Artist

  Temperance Tarot Card by Pat Fish

 Temperance Tarot Card by Pat Fish

In early 2007 I was contacted by my pal Colin Dale who showed me his contribution for a wonderful project. He and many other tattoo artists working at the London Tattoo Expo had been asked by Astrid Kopfler to contribute to a Tattoo Tarot Project , her plan being to collect original art from 78 tattoo artists and then publish a deck. I immediately wrote to her and asked if I too could participate. She answered: "All the cards are gone! - but i'm almost sure that i will need some people to jump in for those who don't get around to really do their card. If thats ok for you i will contact you in this case..." and so I waited. Sure enough, the deadline passed, and some of the people didn't get theirs done. I was IN! 

I was assigned to do the 14th card in the Major Arcana, TEMPERANCE. 

I began to do the research for the card, and found that the ruling sign for it is Sagittarius, my sign! I got even more interested. 

Astrid was very clear that it was not to be considered an Oracle that anyone was assigned a particular card, but I couldn't help, in my California way, to think that I was MEANT to do this particular card! 

THEN I discovered that in Aleister Crowley's Thoth deck he named this card ART AND ALCHEMY. This was a very exciting validation of this particular card being the one I was to do. You may have seem me in a third-eye portrait by Ronan Spelman in an homage to a famous portrait of Crowley. 

I Googled all the images of the Temperance card in every deck available online, I found 95, and studied their symbolism. The Guardian Angel figure steps off land into water, holding goblets, pouring between them either water into wine or, as I chose, water into fire. The first represents the aspect of temperance as in a Temperance Society, promoting sobriety or responsible drinking. The second, which speaks more to me, is like tempering steel by the union of opposites, alchemy. 

The rainbow Iris, messenger of the Gods, is also an important recurring theme, so I chose to represent it by a gradient of color in the wings and tail. The rainbow is also part of the symbolism of the bow of the archer, Sagittarius, which is a metaphor for the necessity of the union of opposites. The arrow and the bow must have each other to achieve the goal, to work in harmony to hit the target. 

To represent the Saggitarian Centaur I made the Guardian into a bit of a self-portrait of myself melded with the body of my mule. For the head I used the seven pointed star whose importance and mystic significance has been revealed to me by the amazing tattoo immortal Lyle Tuttle

Within the star is the triangle that usually appears on the Guardian's chest, representing geometry and science, here formed by the interlocking Shandwick stone spirals, found on an ancient Pictish stone in Rosshire, Scotland. This is a nod to my own Pictish heritage, as a member of Clan Campbell

The blue triple spiral on the chest of the Guardian is a reference both to the androgeny of the Angel and a simplified version of the Newgrange spirals from the 6,000 year old passage tomb in the Boyne Valley in Ireland. 

I had a wonderful time designing this card, and when I had the line art done I sat down with my esteemed employee, Colin Fraser Purcell, who is always one step ahead of me learning things like Photoshop techniques. Together we spent many hours collaborating on the design, bringing it to the finished appearance of the final version. It was especially exciting to be able to lay in the gradients and rich colors and see it leap to life. 

The image has been placed on my Cafe Press store so that you may purchase it as a print if you like.