I write today about my understanding of the Strength tarot card. As with all my tarot I have respected the traditional esoteric structure and meaning. I do use my own intuition together with regional folklore and symbolism from around the world, to tune and develop the story of each card. We are one world after all. Limited prints of my work are available from my shop miss pybis curiosities
One could say the strength tarot card is the least complex and readily understood tarot in the major arcana. Which in some respects is true. strength tarot represents all aspects of Strength coming as one. The gathering of physical, emotional and spiritual to transcend the quadrant to a higher level of determination and courageousness. This was one of my favourite cards to illustrate. It has been my fastest to complete only taking about 3 consecutive days.
Strength tarot card has two characters the woman and the lion. The woman represents inner strength. A Strength which only comes from true love and compassion. She is champion of spirit, understanding and love. It is this strength which many of us can find the hardest to muster at times, and it is a strength which takes time to understand and appreciate. Sometimes it takes more courage to walk way or to forgive than to fight and anger.
The strength tarot is ruled by Leo, sun sign, the lion. The loin in the strength tarot card The loin holds a great ability to command respect and fear through his physical vessel. It is only when both characters are brought together that we see their true power. For without inner Strength the lion is lost in his rage. Without the lion, the maiden still holds inner peace and strength but lacks the passion and drive of the lion to motivate change within herself and act on her achievements.
Esoterically we could, view the card as central pillar of the Kabbalic tree of life and the two characters the outer pillars. The duality or yin and yan to creat a whole concept. I feel personally that, there is some possible ancient Masonic/Egyptian symbolism surrounding the illumination of man. If we view the maiden as bridled society we could say the lion ‘Leo’ is The sun or untamed energy. For example electricity. It is Egyptian/Masonic ritual practices which teaches their subjects that if they use their practice correctly they may hold the sun (control energy) and become illuminated. Though the concept of illumination and power has become some what warped and miss understood by many in recent time. The Strength tarot reminds us that so do we all hold the ability within our selves to illuminate.
In my version of I wanted to transform my lion into something more than a representation of our sun. I wanted to express his animalistic power but also that behind that power is reason and purpose. He has willingly bowed to the maiden and the maiden as the ability to order his energy. Just as a magi may harness universal energy. The relationship is symbiotic.
In my fortitude tarot card my loin has transformed in to a Foo Dog. The Foo dogs or Guardian Lions where the guardians of temples and imperial buildings of china. In Japanese Shintoism there is a red headed loin similar to a foo dog, who scares of evil spirits. The Foo Dog is protective, strong and gallant. Because I’m using the philosophy of Shintoism he is conscious and decisive in his own right and chooses to work with the maiden rather than be controlled by her.
My foo dog is to the right of the card traditionally where the male guardian lion sits. Bringing masculine and feminine duality to the strength tarot card. His mouth is open, in classical tarot the mouth of the lions is open to show his physical power and the maidens strength to over come him. In my Strength tarot he opens his mouth with pride to protect and scare away the doubts and negativity the quadrant may have about moving forward on their journey. In some tarot the maiden rides the lion, symbolic of lust as in Crowley’s card.
My maiden also holds some outer strength but she invited the foo dog to help her gain momentum to move forward and act upon her esoteric knowledge and her inner peace. So then together they can impart courage to the quadrant. In her hair she wears comb; an eternity symbol, which in tarot represents duality between outer and inner, the moon and sun.About her grows wheat and borage, catnip, daffodils which are ruled by Leo and have associations with the fortitude tarot card. She is tattooed with the symbol of fire and Leo.
Strength tarot card is about courage to made change, make a difference, use your natural talents and skills. If you are afraid, find what made your fire burn.
I am not a courageous person but as I wonder through my own journey, as the fool does in the tarot story. Hopefully I can gain courage from my choices and that will drive me forward.