Strength is the eighth step or lesson of the Fool’s Journey that is represented in the Major Arcana. This is a metaphorical journey through life experiences that a person must complete in order to realize the wholeness of his or her humanity.
The commonly attributed lessons of this card are: compassion, inner strength, gentle persuasion, controlling with love, patience, determination, perseverance and courage.
In many tarot decks, including the Rider Waite Smith tarot deck shown to the right, we see for Strength an image of a woman dressed in white placing her hands gently upon the head of a lion. The woman is crowned in flowers and wears another garland of red flowers around her waist. Above her head is the lemniscate, symbol of infinity. The lion looks up at this fair woman with regal submission. His tongue protrudes from his month and his tail is lowered between his legs. The sky is a bright yellow and the figures stand upon lust green grass with a mountain range in the distance. The energy of this Strength card image is loving, tender, supportive, accepting and serene. We see a moment in time captured in stillness and full conscious presence.
The Strength card is not about action, like The Chariot, which came before it on the Fool’s Journey, but rather surrender. It is possible to be strong without being forceful, aggressive or domineering. There is a time and place for the power of The Chariot, but the next step on the Fool’s Journey is to go beyond the ego-focused will of the Chariot and towards a more holistic consciousness. There is a great need to remain calm in the face of aggression, to work toward harmony between individual wills, and integrate your unique ego into a consciousness of all creation. This lesson of collective consciousness is difficult to learn. So, how can we go about learning the lesson of Strength?
In order to align yourself to Strength, allow yourself to feel gratitude, love and abundance. Gaze upon the lion in the image and notice the steadiness and acceptance he projects at the woman. Know that you are deserving of this kind of trust from others, and also that you can trust in yourself as well. The lion allows the woman of Strength to touch and stroke him because of the purity of her intention that can be easily communicated to him without words. This purity of intention comes from the setting aside of the idea that the woman and the lion are separate beings and instead focusing on what they share as living beings. They were both born and they both will die, this connects every living being. The woman does not judge the lion for being a beast, try to change him, or attempt to explain him outside of his actual existence. The lion reassures you and encourages you to trust in yourself. Get in touch with your worthiness and do not waste time judging yourself. The lion is a symbol to teach and guide you into acceptance of your own divine Strength.
Connecting with nature and animals is an easy, great first step toward uncovering your inner Strength. In this image of Strength on the left from the Motherpeace tarot deck, the goddess sits surrounded by animals. She holds out a glowing sun, representing her ego, toward a wolf. The wolf can then assess her intentions with close inspection. Oftentimes, we find it difficult to break down the barriers we create between ourselves and other human beings, but perhaps we do not create these same walls between ourselves and nature. Begin to open to your Strength by intensifying your awareness in nature, speaking to animals, and opening to the connection between yourself and all living things. This practice of listening to nature as a conscious part of your daily routine will build up your ability to interact on a similar level with other people. The more people who can connect and interact with using the gentle control and compassion of Strength, the more peace and joy will exist in our society.
When the Fool grasps the lesson of the Strength card he will have a deep sense of emotional and mental wellbeing. This serenity allows him to go beyond the mind, body, and heart, and delve deep into the soul or spirit. He will retreat into introspection in the next step of his journey as The Hermit, in order to solidify and deepen his wisdom. For now he knows that Strength is the power deep inside. You need to be willing to break down your inner barriers, your feelings of being undeserving or untrustworthy and your feeling that you are separate. You need to stop your mind from judging you unworthy. You need to stop judging others. Strength is something that flows out of you and then helps you integrate with the greater flow around you. Strength cannot be grasped at but rather opened to. Open to let it emerge from you naturally. We all have this ability within us.
If you would like to connect with the energy of your own Strength at this moment, a tarot reading can be a powerful tool to help you open to this self-knowledge. I have designed a special tarot spread just for this purpose. This five-card spread helps you find and develop your own personal inner Strength. It explores:
- Your current Strength
- How you can enhance your Strength
- What can hinder, oppose or distract your Strength
- How you can apply and use your Strength
- What your Strength can bring you
This truly empowering tarot spread will have you ready to take on your life challenges in no time. I encourage you to try this spread on your own or get in touch with me for a reading on my website www.thewillowpathtarot.com. You will find the Find Your Inner Strength spread there as well as many others!