Strength is number eight in three of my four decks, and it is number eight in the RWS deck. A.E. Waite swapped Strength and Justice, which were originally numbered eleven and eight respectively. I will examine Strength here in the eighth position and Justice in a few days at the eleventh position, but then I would like to reexamine both cards with their original placement in mind and see how that would affect their meanings and the Fool’s Journey.
In this position, Strength begins the second line of the Major Arcana, which turns from outward success and control to the inner self. On this card, in three of my four decks, you can see a woman and a lion (a woman and a bird in the Animism Tarot). This represents the inner strength to allow our “tamed” animal side out. In card seven, the Chariot, the Fool has control over the dualities in her life. In the RWS depiction, the chariot being ridden is stone, suggesting a rigidity in this control. Strength, however, is about knowing our inner “animal” (or lion, as depicted) is tamed and letting it out. This allows for more emotional expression which the inhabitant of the Chariot might find ridiculous.
As the first card of this second row, Strength relates to the Magician. 1 (the Magician) + 3 (the Empress) = 4. 4 x 2 (the High Priestess) = 8, or Strength. Strength can be seen as the power embodied in the Magician, the sensuality of the Empress, and the inner contemplation of the High Priestess. A lovely combination of passion and peace.
The kind of strength embodied in this card is not domineering or aggressive. It is patient and compassionate, loving and courageous.
A shadow could be over-taming our inner lion, or basically staying at the Chariot level rather than reaching true strength as signified in this card. The opposite / reverse of Strength would be an inner sense of inadequacy or anxiety.
If I were to assign an element to this card, I think it might be water and fire. While these two elements may seem like opposites, I think this card embodies a beautiful combination of the two: the fire of passion and the coolness of peaceful emotion.
This card represents a state of being that I would love to achieve: the ability to let my inner emotions out more often without fear of abuse in return. My little lion has been beaten into submission so often that I now police it all on my own. This card fills me with a happy hope and makes me smile.
I have certainly been strong to survive what I have, but the Strength card represents a new kind of strength. The strength to not let that abuse dictate how I think and behave for the rest of the my life. The strength to resurrect my inner animal (or inner child, if you will) and to let her run free. She is indeed tame and won’t hurt anyone. There’s no realistic reason to keep her locked up any longer. Easier said than done, but oh how wonderful it will be when I’ve reached that place!