Tarot card: Temperance
Anime: Yoroiden Samurai Troopers (AKA Ronin Warriors)
Character: Shuten Douji (AKA Anubis)
As the bearer of the mystical Armour of Spring and First General of Arago's demonic army, Shuten Douji has learned a great deal about how to invoke (and inflict) the power of his will upon the world. But true power comes from within, not from without, and in time Shuten was forced by the monk Kaosu to face the reality of his situation, and to realize the the power of his armour was actually the power of his own heart. Having learned this, Shuten then was forced to make a hard decision, torn on the one hand between loyalty to his old ways of life and the promise of a new, better life built on principles of spirit.
But the way of the warrior and the way of the monk are both paths of extremes, and in the end neither way is always the best one. Sometimes the middle way is the only one, and in the end Shuten was forced to realize this as well. In the end it was only because Shuten was able to integrate the knowledge and skills he had gained as a warrior with the grounding and grace he achieved as a monk that he was able to prevail and accomplish that which he could never have done as either a mere warrior, or a mere monk.
Here he stands near the shrine in which he learned to give up his desire for conflict. In one hand he holds the Staff of Kaosu, symbolizing the fact that he allows matters of the spirit to guide him. In his other hand he holds the Kusari-gama that is part and parcel of the Armour of Spring, and with it he directs the energy of his signature attack, the Red Thunder Flash (Ko-Rai-Sen). But the sword that deals death can also be the sword that gives life, and under the direction of Kaosu's spirit, Shuten's weapon serves to channel the teeming energies of Spring into positive channels.
It is not an easy balance, to be sure; concentration is demanded to juggle the demands of the paths of spirit and of flesh. But the ability to shift between one and the other can yield great rewards.
A path leads off into the distance, through the gates of the Youjakai and to bright, unknown horizons. There's no knowing for sure where the path to the future will lead, but the ability to act using one's integrated knowledge will help ensure that the journey leads on towards illumination.
Meanings at a glance: Integration, balance, juggling the demands of two paths
Some people see Temperance as a card of ineffable calmness. I say that if that is so, then it is the calmness at the center of the hurricane. Many things go on in life, but Temperance demands that we do not retreat from them, but join in the dance. If the Temperance card has come up, it could mean that you are being tested for flexibility; a well-tempered sword is one that has been through fire and water many times. As a result it is strong enough that it can do its job, but flexible enough that it will not shatter.
A well-tempered person is one who has been through much testing, learned from each test, and emerged with the ability to juggle the demands of many different areas of life.
Artist's notes: Man, I've been waiting to do this card for a long time! Shuten Douji is one of my all-time favourite anime characters, hands down. It was impossible not to be a bit spoilerish in the card description, but I tried to make it as teaser-ish as possible instead. But Shuten is just flat out the coolest freaking character in the entire anime, mostly because by the end of the show he is easily the most complex character.
It doesn't hurt that he was incredibly competent. Some villains are made to be fall guys for the heros to beat up. Shuten Douji was not that kind of villain. Shuten Douji was the equivalent of "Dynasty Warriors'" Lu Bu. If you've ever played "Dynasty Warriors" and found yourself running all over the battlefield screaming in panic, "LU BU IS CHASING MEEEE!"... well, Shuten was probably an even *worse* guy to have on your tail. He really *was* on the verge of kicking the Samurai Troopers' collective asses more than once, and only didn't because he had to stop and return to home base on his commander's orders. Which is what made the thing that happened in the middle of the show so freaking awesome. (And unlike Lu Bu, when Shuten Douji joined your team he didn't get powered down, he got powered *up*. AND got about twelve more bishounen points in the process...