For this Imbolc Tarot Blog Hop we were asked by our wrangler, Karen of Pure & Blessed Tarot, to write about an oracular anomaly we have experienced. Basically, this means I’m going to share with you something that sticks out to me as weird about a tarot deck I use sometimes. The deck is The Deviant Moon Tarot by Patrick Valenza and the card is Strength. This is a visually stunning deck, dark and sometimes dangerous in its depictions of the tarot cards. I just love it, as I’m sure many of you do too! Most of the cards in this deck are easy to interpret if you are familiar with the Rider Waite Smith tradition, but the Strength card always jumps out at me as strange when I look through this deck. Let me explain why I feel this way and then I will go into how I work with this ocacular anomaly in my tarot reading practice.
As you may have noticed from earlier posts on this blog, I love the Strength card. It is my tarot birth card and my general, all-purpose, favorite card in the tarot deck. It usually corresponds to my favorite number, 8, and perhaps this is where the difficulties with this Strength card begin, as Valenza follows the Thoth tradition of Strength being card 11. Maybe, maybe not, as usually when reading with a deck where Strength is card 11, I just ignore that little kick to my comfort zone and pretend Strength is still card 8. What actually gets me is the image itself of Strength which just doesn’t jive with my regular Strength card sensibilities. First off, there isn’t a woman in the card, at least not your typical female appearance of a woman! I associate Strength with the divine feminine so it’s hard for me to get down with this Strength card showing a man. Also, this isn’t just any man, he’s a strongman, judging from the circus tents in the back. To me, the Strength card has nothing to do with brawn, with brute force, or with big muslces- so why the strong man? Lastly, Strength from The Deviant Moon shows the man forcefully opening the jaws of a scary reptilian creature. I’m used to an image of Strength in which the woman controls a mighty lion with gentleness and compassion. So, those are my quibbles with the Strength card image from the Deviant Moon, and why I find it to be an oracular anomaly.
I love this deck though, so I’ve worked on how to align my tarot reading style with the image from this deck. That process has helped me think about this card in a new way, and that perspective deepens my knowledge and understanding of the tarot. Basically, what I see in this image is the Ego confronting his inner demons. The image isn’t literal, its not a strongman showing off his muscles, it’s a metaphor for the inner struggle to overcome the Ego and the thinking mind. For me, the Ego is a very masculine concept, one concerned with rationalizing, thinking, and controlling in contrast to the feminine experience of intuiting, feeling, and surrendering. It takes a very strong masculine force inside of each of us to force open the mouth of our inner pain and confront the demons in our dark places that holds us back from consciousness and enlightenment.
I find The Deviant Moon Tarot to be a powerful tool when doing this type of intense, shadow side work. It’s beautiful and easy for me to see the typical Strength card with a gentle woman, clad all in white, taming a lion, and experience that calm surrender to the moment. I see that “regular” Strength card and I know to access my inner strength and have confidence in myself and my abilities. I can connect with other people and nature, I can follow my life path with ease, I can flow in the now. The Deviant Moon Strength card is the perfect image for when that process is not easy, when surrender seems distant and unachievable, when Strength must be a committed fight for consciousness. It can be difficult to separate our identity from our pain, as often our sorrow and struggles are how we define ourselves. I don’t believe that it is productive or necessary to act this way though. I want to define myself by the love, compassion, and connectedness I bring with me into the world. Strength reminds me to be more than the Ego, and the Deviant Moon image of Strength depicts the difficult process that is separation from the Ego and integration with self and the universe.
I hope you enjoyed this latest blog post. I have to admit, I had no idea what to write when I heard the topic was “ocacular anomalies”, so I hope I muddled through this one ok! I’m looking forward to hopping along and seeing what all the other amazing tarot bloggers out there had to say about this subject. You can follow along on the links below as well. Happy Imbolc! Spring approaches!