Friday, March 3, 2017

A Closer Look: Strength

Key words and concepts

  • Courage
  • Conviction
  • Mental strength
  • Emotional fortitude
  • Mastery over fear

The Strength card is one of my very favorite in the deck.  In my mind, she is called courage.  Courage derives from the French word for heart, coeur.  The Strength card does not refer to physical strength, or even willpower, but rather bravery through compassion and love.  The woman in the picture is not fighting the lion; instead, she gently encourages him to close his mouth. I love that the tarot's idealized version of strength is one that strives to minimize violence, not inflict it. The idea here is that Strength vanquishes her foes not by eliminating them, but by converting them into allies.

From the CBD Tarot by Yoav Ben-Dov
This card also ecompasses meanings of fortitude and endurance, of finding the means to go on when you feel unable to. Strength is a card of hope.

From a technical standpoint, the Strength card is interesting because it was originally the 11th major arcana (notable in Marseille decks). When A. E. White helped develop a new deck in the early 20th  Century, he switched Strength's order with Justice. Justice is another special card to me, so I like that they have that link.

The Strength card is one that has quite a bit of alchemical and Hermetic imagery, but I'm not going to dive into that here. However, I will refer you to an image from the Hermetic text The Golden Tripod; this is a text that Waite worked with, and you can see the influence of the imagery on the Strength card.

How has Strength manifested in your life? What do you think of the contrast between physical strength and emotional courage? Tell us in comments!

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