The Alchemy of Silence: A Temperance Poem

Yesterday, in the tarot and Lenormand blog My Curious Cabinet, I was reading Le Fanu’s explanation for his retirement from active posting. His comments on the need to regain “silence” in his life, to fend off the intrusion of social and cultural malaise into his private space,  got me thinking about my own perception of psychological peace of mind. I wrote the following short poem to capture my impressions:

The Alchemy of Silence

Silence is not just golden,

It’s also portable.

I carry mine with me

Wherever I go,

A stillness of mind

That mutes the din

Of human intercourse,

Immune to the sting

Of casual impertinence

On the rough tongue

Of an artless society.


It transmutes the inferior,

This Zen of Temperance,

This Fine Art of Right Action,

Of finesse and quiet precision,

Of measured indifference

To the vulgarity

Of the commonplace.


This poem contains 70 words, a count that reduces numerologically to 7, the number of the Chariot. The seventh trump card sits half-way between the Fool and Temperance, the fourteenth trump, and together they sum to 21, the number of the Universe. The Chariot corresponds to Cancer (my Sun sign), and the Crab carries its fortress of silence on its back, always ready to retreat into it. Temperance values demonstration over exposition, and keeps its recondite secrets to itself, while the Universe symbolizes Saturnian restriction and, in the words of James Sturzaker, expresses the axiom “To Dare – to Do – to Know – To Be Silent.” These cards separate the series of trumps into three septenaries, with the Fool standing apart – Magician to Chariot, Strength – or, if you prefer, Justice – to Temperance, and the Devil to the Universe. As Yoav Ben-Doav was fond of saying, “Everything is a sign.”

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