This article is part of a series of posts that will compare each card in the Tarot across different decks in order to study and explore each archetype and concept more deeply. This is not necessarily meant to be a teaching tool for others, but if you like to study the Tarot as much as I do, I hope you find it interesting. Enjoy!
For more on the decks referenced here please another page in my blog: Tools of the Locksmith: https://wordpress.com/page/theramblinglocksmith.com/163
A major reference for this study was “Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom” by Rachel Pollack.
This week we explore where our inner knowledge starts through compassionate confrontation and the true meaning of courage with Strength.
In contrast to the constant motion and inertia of the Chariot card the Strength card emulates calm confrontation. This inner knowledge of our feelings and fears seems like an untamable lion until we reach a point where we confront any source of our own inner turmoil. Once we can confront our inner selves truly and with open hearts with the utmost self-care the lion is instantly tamed and becomes more of a partner than an adversary. To confront and release these emotions, many of which may be tied up in unresolved trauma, takes true courage and strength.
A quick note on the number and position of this card. The Strength card position is one of the few controversial things in the structures of different Tarot deck architectures. In the Rider-Waite-Smith its number is 8 which lends itself to the use of the infinity symbol as an 8 turned on its side. In some other systems its number is 11 and the Justice card is number 8 for the idea of eternal balance. I personally like the strength card at 8 only because I see the number 11 as the two sides of the balance in the Justice card as a better placement, and I also like the idea that the next step after understanding your will to affect external circumstances is directly followed by the Strength card which deals more with the strength we find inside ourselves.
Standard elements of the Strength card include:
- A woman “taming” or confronting a lion representing unconscious energy released or confronted by conscious understanding. The Lion represents all of the feelings, fears and desires of our inner selves.
- An infinity symbol above the woman’s head showing both that strength is eternal, but our understanding of it is an eternal question.
The Santa Muerte, Tarot we see a wrestler who is in a fight with a lion or dragon skeleton. One way to see this dance is a fight in which case the thing you need to understand is that you are only wasting your strength by wrestling with yourself as both of these figures represent you.
Another way to view this is not as a fight but as a dance where we embrace our inner selves, and harness our strengths in order to propel ourselves further with more strength along our path.
If this card resonates with you out of the other examples here ask yourself if you feel more like you are in an internal wrestling match or if you are ready to confront some of your best moves to see how they can be leveraged in more of a dance that brings you more balance.
In the Light Seers Tarot we see one of the few examples where the lion is shown as part of the same being instead of two separate entities. We also see a lamb and a heart necklace in the card which might allow us to see compassion and grace as strength, either self compassion or compassion for others. This strength is humble and graceful versus a strength that is more about our egos and controlling things externally through a physical perception of strength.
If this card speaks to you examine what inner qualities, energies or emotions when confronted and embraced might bring you a larger sense of grace and humility. Once you master and accept these qualities you will be in a closer understanding of your own strengths.
In the Ancestral Path Tarot the Strength card shows not only calm presence of the woman with Lion but her environment which also seems calm. She seems at ease and connected not just with the lion but the environment. Her calmness both internally and externally seems to put the Lion at ease.
If this card speaks to you ask yourself if there is something in your internal or external environment that prevents you from being calm enough to embrace your own internal lion or strength or truly examine it and start there. If you feel this card is more of a mirror image then reflect on what internal strengths you are seeing here and how they can complement other aspects of your current journey.
In the Voyager Tarot we get the best visual representation of all the manifestations of strength. We have the graceful strength of transformation in the butterflies. We have Shu – the Egyptian god of air representing mental strength. We have a pool of fiery water representing emotional depth, understanding, and control. We have the Parthenon representing mastery over your dominion and worldly life.
If this card is the one that resonates most try to focus both on which image is most familiar, and also which is the hardest or scariest to connect with or confront. Identify exactly what these images represent for you and spend some time asking yourself why one is easy and the other isn’t. If you can confront the hard one you will find a larger sense of strength, and you may be able to use the more easily accessible strength to do so.
In the Lua Tarot we see a woman who has won over the jaguar, not by breaking its spirit, because that would mean she had broken her own. She wins over and “tames” the jaguar using love and kindness. That’s why the jaguar now walks with her instead of fighting her or trying to overcome her.
If this is the strength card you connect the most with ask yourself where you need more love and kindness to tame the beast within, and how you will provide that instead of trying to overcome it with fear or anger.
The Osho Zen Tarot the strength card is called Courage. Courage is not present because you aren’t afraid of what you face. You have courage because you are scared, and because the challenge or confrontation is difficult.
When facing such circumstances this card gives us the image of a tiny delicate plant that has found the courage to push past solid rock into the sunlight. It didn’t need fear or anger to overcome the rock. It also didn’t deny itself the ability to meet this challenge. It only needed its own resilience.
Where do you or can you find resilience for your tough confrontations? When you can answer that question you know where to find your own inner strength.
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