Reflections on the Archetype of Strength

I picked Strength as my word of the year for 2018. It is more than just a word to me though, it is a whole archetype. It contains so much more than just one word or idea. Today, I’m going to write a little bit about what I think Strength means, how I’m working with it this year, and how you too can draw on the energy of Strength when you need a boost of energy, confidence, and stamina.

Shadowscapes Tarot

First and foremost, working with Strength for me is about building confidence. Strength is an energy that you can channel to prop yourself up when you need confidence, courage, and stamina. I know I often need more of that type of energy in my life. It is so easy to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and exhausted. Calling on Strength reminds me that I have deep reserves of inner fortitude, and that I can endure my challenges. In fact, I can do more than endure my challenges, I can blossom, grow, and build myself up throughout the process of confronting obstacles, roadblocks, and setbacks in my path.

Strength is also about perseverance and fortitude. It is the ability to just keep going even when I am worn out, struggling, or just plain tired to the bone. I have deep reserves of energy meant specifically for the areas of my life that are most important to me. If I really want something, if it really lights me up inside and gives me purpose, I will find a way to make myself keep going and strive. It’s easy to pinpoint the things that aren’t part of my life purpose, because there is just no energy or perseverance for completing them. When I don’t follow through on these things, I don’t feel deeply unsatisfied and disappointed. When something doesn’t get done and it doesn’t show up again at another time for a second chance at tackling it, it just wasn’t part of my ultimate path.

Strength means I don’t give up when things get tough, instead I dig deep and I find deeper answers and meaning because of that struggle and exhaustion. We are all trying to avoid pain and suffering, isn’t that only natural? But what else is natural is the meaning and purpose we derive from pushing through and doing the hard and difficult things that make us so uncomfortable. It’s in the pain and discomfort and feat that the story of purpose unfolds. When we are channeling Strength it’s easier to hear those messages of meaning. When we  ask Strength for assistance on something that doesn’t actually resonate with our soul purpose, Strength just kind of ignores us and no surge of endurance emerges to allow us to keep going. Working with Strength is working with our intuition.

Sometimes we do breakdown though. Sometimes we reach exhaustion, we fail, we shut down, we go into overdrive and burn out. In that moment, there is also a profound connection to Strength. Life tests us in excruciating ways simply to connect us to that extraordinary Strength we each hold within ourselves. It’s painful but it’s not wrong and we don’t have to suffer through it. We can lean into the pain, wrapped in the knowledge of our Strength, knowing we’ll pull through. This isn’t the end, it is simply a resting point.

Strength is not brute forth, it is endurance, it is the long run, it creates energy even as we are on our last legs, propelling us just a few steps farther. Strength is the tortoise, not the hare. Strength may even appear to crumple or stop or stagnate but she is just resting, and the resting point is crucial and beautiful. There is a subtle growth in the rest that indicates almost inpercetible continuation of movement. You can still feel that movement within you if you tune into that enduring vibration of Strength that is always pulsing in your center.

The Wild Unknown Tarot

Strength is also about control, aware of creating her life in collaboration with Fate. Fate is not running the show, but rather works in harmony with our shifting interpretations and perceptions of our reality. Strength allows you to be conscious and awake to the reactions you have to Fate. You can decide how you interpret and live in life’s troubles and problems. Strength allows you to choose your own reality, to decide how to react to the world around you. When life gives you lemons, do you make lemonade? Do you look for the silver lining? Do you treat misfortune as an opportunity to learn something, a lesson buried within? Strength allows you to entertain the prospect that everything happens for a reason. She also allows you to accept that you’ll probably never know that reason and just have to believe and have faith.

Strength is acceptance but she is also your internal badass who totally has your back, massaging your shoulders in the corner of the ring, “Now go out there and fight!” Most of the fight is just against yourself, the little voice of doubt in your head, “You are bad at this. You have nothing to offer. No one will understand you. People will misunderstand, misinterpret, and twist your words and then BLAME you for their mistakes. You will cause mistakes. You are not good enough.” Blah, blah, blah! That little voice could go on for days but Strength is the angel on your shoulder whispering that, “You are good enough. You are worthy. Your uniqueness is a gift. You can grow. You are ready. We are all one. People want to hear from you. You can do it.” She is really good at being the cheerleader and being the coach.

I have many more things I could say about Strength, but that is going to be all for today 🙂 I hope you connect deeply with your inner Strength whenever you need it! Did you pick a word of the year? Care to share?

Card Meaning: IX of Wands

12277513_976827989063467_1611637240_n copyKeywords: stamina, determination, perseverance, follow through, weary, exhausted, cautious, leery, strength, courage, resilient, persistent, not backing down, keep calm and carry on

Reversed: unmotivated, giving up, lack of determination, hesitating, wavering, unsure, to tired to continue, resting, taking a break

Associated Major Card: Strength

 

The IX of Wands is a card of stamina, determination, perseverance, and follow through. Life will test you with the IX of Wands. There are many challenges in store for you. In fact, you most likely already know what those challenges are and have been struggling with them for a while. But you are not beat down. You can deal. Anything worth doing generally doesn’t come easy. You know what your end goal is, you have your eye on the prize, and you will continue. Nothing will stop you now when you are so close and so clear in your intentions. You can feel it in your bones, but mostly you can feel it in your spirit. It will not be quieted. You need to focus on carrying on, even when fatigued or unmotivated. The IX of Wands promises success for all those who accept its challenge not to throw in the towel just yet, but pull on through even against the odds.

9 of Wands Shadowscapes Tarot

Shadowscapes Tarot

This card is the Minor Arcana echo of the Strength card, as it reminds you to find you inner resolve, trust in your ability to accomplish whatever it is you set out to do, and keep going. If you’re not a naturally competitive person and have a tendency to let things go that do not come easily to you, the appearance of this card is a wake up call. Tell yourself that you are worth it. Tell yourself that your ideas should be pursued. You can change, make a difference, creative something, reach your goal. You will need to push yourself though, to not just let go of what doesn’t come easily, and to struggle for what you’re passionate about creating. The IX of Wands indicates a need to focus on follow-though, even when faced with all possible setbacks and difficulties. It will be worth it in the end.

 

The IX of Wands reversed:

When the IX of Wands comes up reversed, it’s time to get real with yourself about whether or not you have abandoned your goals. Did you give up on your dream? Did you get beat down by the odds? Were there so many setbacks that your goal seemingly grew farther and farther away instead of ever making progress? You know what, sometimes that happens. It’s ok. Just because you aren’t making progress or putting your dreams on the back burner for a while, doesn’t mean that you are a failure. Your priority now is to take care of yourself. We humans feel a drive to always be moving forward, but that isn’t reality. Life moves in cycles. Our energy ebbs and flows just like the tides pulled by the waning and waxing moon. If now is a low time, a sad energy time, an introspective static time, be cool with that. Don’t berate yourself for taking a break. Rejuvenating and relaxing now could help you make leaps in bounds when you finally do have the energy to proceed.

Rider Waite Smith deck

Oh the other hand, if you check in with yourself and realize that you’re just a big lazy pants, it might be time to give yourself a kick in those pants to take action. Sometimes the biggest challenge we face is resistance. Or it’s a lack of drive. Or it’s the fear of the unknown. Something in our human psychology doesn’t want us to change. We like to play it safe and do the same old thing because even if we hated it all along, we lived through it and could live through it again. But is that any way to live? Don’t you want to break down your walls? Don’t you want to reach for your dreams? Wouldn’t it actually be wonderful if you stopped fearing success and just went for it? You will survive something new, believe me. Let the IX of Wands be the gentle push, or the huge kick in the ass, you need to get back on track toward your dreams, overcome your resistance to change, and get going!

Tarot Blog Hop Imbolc- Oracular Anomalies

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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.

Strength Deviant Moon Tarot

Strength
Deviant Moon Tarot

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.

Strength Shadowscapes Tarot

Strength
Shadowscapes Tarot

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!

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Aquarius New Moon Reading for January 20th, 2015

Another moon cycle comes to a close and so another begins!  The New Moon in air sign Aquarius will be occuring on January 20th, 2015.  This is an excellent time to set a couple of intentions or goals for the coming four weeks.  Working with this short energy cycle of the moon can help you get in touch with your own four week energy cycles, and manifest smaller parts of your overall year goals.  If you are still working on planning out those year long goals, I recommend Leonie Dawson’s Amazing Year planner.  Today I asked the tarot cards for advice for all of us on setting our intentions now at the Aquarius New Moon. Enjoy and best of luck with making progress on your goals in the next four weeks!

VIII Strength Rider Waite Smith deck

VIII Strength
Rider Waite Smith deck

What energy will help at this New Moon:  Strength
Strength is the card of compassion, of courage, of quiet and enduring control.  When setting your intentions for the coming month, do so with the conviction that you will succeed because of your ability to persevere, your bravery, and your love for what you do. Strength is the archetype of power, patience, fortitude, and determination.  If it feels like you set too lofty of goals for 2015 overall, Strength reminds you to fight your battles one at time.  It’s still January after all- you don’t need everything to be perfectly in place already! With each smaller monthly victory, you will gain confidence, you will learn important lessons, and you will find the strength you need to keep going toward the bigger picture. Let Strength guide you in setting intentions for the month with her gentle compassion, innocence, and love.

 

Knight of Wands Rider Waite tarot

Knight of Wands
Rider Waite Smith tarot

What energy will hinder this month:  Knight of Wands
The Knight of Wands initiates battles for the sheer joy of the fight, regardless of whether there is anything worthwhile to be fought over or won. This type of boundless enthusiasm will be an obstacle for you when setting your intentions for the coming New Moon cycle. If you find yourself still chasing after a million hopes and ideas for your 2015, try to find some quiet time to work out which of those ideas of yours you are most passionate about and which are only serve to crowd out or cloud your vision. The Knights are all about action and doing, but first you must take the time to figure out what intentions you want to act upon, before you start doing anything. With so much enthusiasm and fire going into the year, be careful not to burn yourself out acting without a concrete plan of attack.

 

King of Wands Rider Wait Smith tarot

King of Wands
Rider Wait Smith tarot

What to expect this month: King of Wands
Well, it looks like we are all going to take my advice into account and be truly visionary this month!  The King of Wands takes that passionate, fire energy of the Wands and uses in responsibly as a King. This is the most antsy of the Kings though, ready to jump off his throne and pursue an idea or vision.  He must remember to find his calm inner center, to make decisions from a place of reason and depth. This month you may feel like you are just barely keeping it all together, but you are doing it, you are very capable of manifesting your visions into reality. King of Wands energy says to me that you will be successful in setting your goals this month and sticking to them. This is great news, especially for all the entrepreneurs out there struggling to grow your businesses like me! 🙂

Best of luck working with the solid, compassion energy of Strength this New Moon cycle. Use this strength to settle down and plan more strategically for the coming year.  You have so much power within you at this time to sit down and really map out what your vision for the year is overall.  I will check in with you again on setting your intentions at the next New Moon in Pisces on February 18th, 2015!

Finding Your Strength

 

VIII Strength Rider Waite Smith deck

VIII Strength
Rider Waite Smith deck

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.

Strength Motherpeace Tarot

Strength
Motherpeace Tarot

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.

strengthSS

Strength Shadowscapes Tarot

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:

  1. Your current Strength
  2. How you can enhance your Strength
  3. What can hinder, oppose or distract your Strength
  4. How you can apply and use your Strength
  5. 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!