Strength is the eighth card in the Tarot Deck.
The Strength card represents gentle inner strength and the ability to not get taken over by our primitive emotions.
In Tarot there is controversy about the Strength card because in older decks Justice was placed as the number 8 card and Strength was placed at number 11.
The Rider Waite deck and many tarot decks since then do not follow this older method. This is due to the fact that the Golden Dawn (an occult group that the creator of the Rider Waite deck was in) felt Strength was more powerful in position 8. At the end of the day it is not super important unless you are studying Kabbalah and the Occult Mysteries.
Let’s look at the picture below of Strength. The picture is from the Rider Waite Tarot deck which was first published in 1909. It is a great deck for beginners because every card has a picture describing its meaning. Today the majority of Tarot decks are based on the Rider Waite deck. It is also a ‘deep’ deck because the creators of it put multi layered meanings inside it.
We see a woman who seems calm and serene standing beside a fierce lion. The lion appears tame and even lets the women close his mouth. The picture is bright and cheerful. We sense strength and hope in this card. It feels good to look at it.
Body Posture of Woman
A confident woman who has no fear standing beside a wild animal.
Facial Expression of Woman
Her face is gentle and serene. She has no fear on her face. Her inner calm and strength means she can put her hands near the mouth of a lion.
She wears a white robe which represents purity and innocence – but – not naivety.
These flowers represent passion and instincts. They are in the woman’s hair like a crown showing she has control with her mind over her passion. They are also around her high waist – the place of the solar plexus chackra (whose color is yellow).
The Infinity symbol (lemniscate) represents eternity. Notice how the number 8 when lain on its side also represents infinity. That allowing ourselves to rise above our primitive animal instincts brings us closer to the idea of God / Great Spirit. Compassion, trust and love are considered higher emotions than jealously, hate and spite. The other only character in the Tarot with the Infinity symbol is the Magician. The Magician has control also by focusing his will and intent along with powers from above to get what he wants. The Strength card represents will from within.
The lion represents our primitive instincts. The part of us that is animal. We tend to forget that we are simply another form of mammal with all the instincts and tribal needs of these animals. The Lion is red which represents the fiery male principle of Sulfur. When Sulfur changes to Gold, the lower self is changed to a higher self. The lion is controlled and directed but not ignored. We can also see that the lion is taming his own instincts in order to be touched by the woman. So too our primitive instincts often come from a place of needing to be seen and loved.
The green nature represents the fertility when we allow ourselves to accept all parts of ourselves but to not let ourselves be controlled by them.
The mountain reminds us of the Lovers card. The Lovers represent male and female externally and internally. So too the Strength card has a lot of sensuality in it with the ‘virgin’ overcoming the passions of the beast.
The Yellow represents the Sun which rules this card. It also represents the alchemy concept of Sulphur (yellow) being turned into Gold.
Gods / Goddesses
Strength is ruled by all the Gods and Goddesses that possess gentle strength.
Female: Athena, Brigid, Danu, Isis, Virgin Mary, Bast / Sekhmet
Male: Dagda, Lugh,
The number of Strength is 8 – the number of infinity and life.
The astrological sign Leo is associated with this card. Leos are traditionally seen as strong and courageous. Their mission in life is to overcome their passions to achieve success in their lives. Their lesson is to live life wisely.
The Sun rules Leo which indicates that we acknowledge our passions and work with them rather than being overwhelmed by them, we can achieve ANYTHING.
The creators of the Rider Waite Tarot deck were members of the Golden Dawn, a group that had many teachings based on the mystical Kabbalah of the Jewish nation. When I say Kabbalah forget about monotheism, Judaism, God, and religion for a moment. Kabbalists are mystics in a sense. They believe God is neither male nor female and in fact has many aspects. Their systems are all about learning why we are here, the mystery of the universe and what the big plan is.
Inside the Rider Waite deck is a multitude of Kabbalistic meanings. I will briefly explain a few of the Kabbalistic meanings within The Emperor card. Believe me when I say you could learn for the rest of your life about Tarot and Kabbalah and still only scratch the surface. I’m keeping it superficial but easy to understand. I am also using on purpose the word Kabbalah rather than Cabala.
Strength is represented by the letter Teth – which also represents the snake. The snake in many cultures is seen as representing regeneration, sexuality and life-force. The primitive life-force. In India this energy is called Kundalini, in China, Chi and in Kabbalistic tradtions – the Shekinah.
The Chariot on The Tree of Life sits on the path between Chesed and Gevurah. It is the balance between mercy and severity. So too with our own passions, we should have mercy for ourselves and not be too severe on ourselves when we make mistakes.
Eating is the main sense associated with The Chariot and the system of digestion is about converting love and wisdom into action.
The name of The Chariot is ‘Intelligence of the Secret of all Spiritual Activities’. Basically what that means is that ultimately there are no secrets – everything can be known if we balance our passion with our wisdom.
KEYWORDS / KEY PHRASES
The ability to tame strong emotions but not to deny them.
Patience. Compassion. Self control. Gentle acceptance of what is.
The subconscious (primitive side of us) is tamed by the conscious.
MESSAGE FROM STRENGTH
Strength wants you to know that you have all the fortitude inside of you. It is a matter of finding it and bringing it forth.
Ask yourself these questions:
Do I feel strong inside?
Can I stand by what I believe?
Can I control my strong emotions, yet not deny them?
How am I taming my inner beast?
What am I passionate about?
Do I allow myself to express my Inner Strength?
Allow yourself to focus on that place inside you that is serene calm and strong. There are many ways to get to that place but self love and self acceptance are the quickest path to inner strength.
When I see a reversed card I simply see the energy blocked or inhibited in some way.
How would Strength be inhibited?
Imagine feeling weak inside, feeling unable to exert your power. Having relationships where you are codependent and less than. Having children that control you. Having a boss that you cannot stand up to. With no inner strength it is very easy to succumb to addictions and bad habits.
If you get Strength reversed for yourself or someone else some questions to ask might be…
Do I feel controlled by my addictions?
Do I let people walk all over me?
Do I show weakness rather than strength?
Am I feeling that others are forcing their beliefs on me?
Am I allowing my personal truths to be undermined?
Do I feel lost and alone?
Do I ignore my desire for wildness and passion?
If you get The Chariot reversed it is warning you to find a way to grow that Inner Strength. You might need counselling or psychotherapy. You might need to rethink your values and how you can strive for what you really want. You might need to look at your addictions and how they can rule your life. You might need to ask for help to understand how your primitive drives overtake you.
What ever you decide to do have compassion and love for yourself. None of us are perfect. We are perfectly imperfect. So even when times are tough you can accept it and not battle it.
The 12 Step prayer sums up this concept perfectly…
God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can
And the Wisdom to know the difference
TO SUM IT ALL UP…
Strength is about control but at the same time not denying our primitive instincts. The Chariot has a strong control and it can be exhausting. Strength controls with self love and awareness.
So how can you be strong and gentle at the same time?
By loving yourself and others.
Think of the great people who changed the world with inner strength and courage – Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Martin Luther King
How can a woman be strong and gentle at the same time?
Think of a woman in labor.
Her primitive instincts take over because the body actually KNOWS how to give birth. Yet it is important that the women remains calm. Getting hysterical with the pain can actually delay delivery. The woman must control her breathing and stay within. She must find that powerful place within her that is strong and ‘knowing’. A woman can only give birth naturally when she knows that she can and has the quiet confidence to do so (not withstanding complications however which are sometimes out of our control). Once a woman has given birth she has an inner strength to protect that baby.
Strength invites you to understand that when you do not make conscious decisions,
decisions will be made for you.
Strength Card: By Pamela Coleman Smith – a 1909 card scanned by Holly Voley (http://home.comcast.net/~vilex/) for the public domain, and retrieved from http://www.sacred-texts.com/tarot (see note on that page regarding source of images)., PD-US, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17299631