The Alessandro Sforza Tarot
We can also deduce that the Temperance card in the 15th century represented more than just a cardinal virtue, from the Alessandro Sforza Tarot, which is very different from his contemporaries. It is a card that raises many questions among tarot connoisseurs and historians. What is the meaning of the deer on this card and why is the woman with the two vases sitting on top of it?
The answer we find – again – in the tradition of alchemy and the Greek myths of the gods. In both, the deer symbolizes the kundalini energy. Probably because of its red-brown color (the color of fire) and its antlers, which grow toward “heaven”.
One of the twelve “labors” that the Greek demigod Heracles (Hercules) has to carry out on behalf of King Eurystheus is to bring him the Hind of Keryneia with the golden antlers. When the animal is captured by Heracles, one of the antlers breaks off. The deeper meaning of this myth is the mission of a spiritual seeker to awaken the kundalini (catch the hind) and merge the two energy channels that represent the inner duality (the two antlers become one).
The woman on the Alessandro Sforza card is sitting with her spine against the spine of the deer. This may be taken as confirmation that the deer refers to a kundalini awakening. The woman has raised one leg to indicate that duality has merged into (divine) oneness (see also the painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder, below). The red coral necklace that she wears is also a metaphor from alchemy and also represents the kundalini energy.