“The Strength card is about patience, resolve and perseverance but also illustrates the power of compassion and love. I used a dark-skinned mermaid to calmly facing the deep to represent fluidity and inner strength.” – Stanley Morrison (Pride Tarot Guidebook, © US Games Systems, Inc)
Suggested Archetype: The Modern Disney Heroine
Ariel. Belle. Jasmine. Pocahontas. Mulan. Tiana. Merida. Moana. Each Disney heroine has a unique story and they are now wonderfully diverse in culture and appearance. Regardless of their backstory, these young heroines are all strong-willed, curious, fallible, resilient, loyal, and brave. Most of the time they have at least one animal companion and face down multiple obstacles collaboratively with allies in order to complete a quest. By the end of their story, they have matured and overcome at least one character flaw and forced a companion to do the same.
I honestly can’t think of a better literary or historical person that represents to me that within all of us that Strength embodies.
The oceanic theme: I believe the artist wanted to symbolize fluidity and transformation by filling this card with sea creatures. It makes me think of the freedom of swimming but also the mystery and dangers associated with the sea.
The lionfish: On the traditional RWS card, the heroine is taming the lion with compassion, tempering its ferocity. The lion represents the savage or “shadow self” aspect of the psyche, brought into harmony with the heroine to be their ally rather than their enemy. It has not lost its intensity or potentially destructive power but for now, it will only unleash in defense of the heroine it loves.
The orca: Orca are sea predators but like the lion, this one is the loyal companion of the heroine. “The Lord of the Ocean” is a title supposedly applied to orcas by certain indigenous cultures which brings to my mind the way the Western Occult Tradition uses the title of “Lord” for all of the Major Arcana. Orcas travel in large family groups and will use complex cooperative hunting tactics which have made them a symbol of family, protection, and community. I also feel respect and even a little dread looking at the facial expressions of both the lionfish and orca, a glimpse into the darker side of Strength or perhaps as a warning of what happens when strength is replaced with outrage and violence.
The lemniscate symbol: I am including a link to a very good article on the leminscate in RWS-style tarot at TarotArts. I think the author, William Toro, does the topic great justice. Specifically, applied to Strength? It represents them as equal to the Magician in command of their True Will and ability to apply it in magick: to consciously create change in themselves and their environment.
Reading Strength (In General)
Upright this card can mean something like:
- Take charge of the situation but do it with empathy and goodwill; not aggression.
- You can trust those you’ve helped in the past to help you in the present so long as you ask.
- It is time to find or grow your personal LGBTQIA+ “tribe” and let yourself support and be supported by new people.
- Do not back down or let this problem/obstacle intimidate you. Find your passion and resilience to fight for what you want and need.
Reversed, this card can mean something like:
- Back away from any relationship that brings you too much outrage and pain.
- It might be time to make the Serenity Prayer your new mantra.
- If you are feeling depressed or hopeless it is time to find something to ignite your passion and motivation. (A clarifying card can help pinpoint “what”)
- There is trouble ahead that is going to make you either really upset, scared or angry. Prepare yourself now so you can have better resilience when it hits.
Strength In Questions About Relationships
You as Strength Upright: You are in a really auspicious place in your life to have great relationships, even with people that are struggling with their own inner demons. Just be prepared for a long and interesting adventure if the partner or prospective partner can be described that way.
You as Strength Reversed: You are at a time and place in your life where you need to focus on having a better relationship with yourself. Tackling the parts of yourself that are self-sabotaging your happiness has to happen before you can be truly successful at long-term relationships with other people.
The Other Person As Strength Upright: This person is in a very auspicious place in their life as far as being in committed relationships with them but pay close attention to and respect their commitments to others such as family, friends, work, a church or coven, other polyamorous partners, etc., because those other relationships are going to remain something they very much care about. The more you both share in other positive relationships together, the easier your own relationship will be to maintain.
The Other Person As Strength Reversed: This person is struggling with someone who has a lot of anger and abusive behavior. That other person is not treating them with the respect and empathy they deserve. Take a moment to consider if the source of this toxicity is actually you. If it is or might be? The best thing you can do for this relationship is tackle what is making you lash out and stop.
“We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
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