(Card Descriptions Based On Original Rider-Waite Colors – Still Under US Games Inc. Copyright)
Moving on from The Chariot we encounter Strength and another approach to control. Here we see a woman dressed in white with a garland of flowers tied around her waist and flowers in her hair. Her white dress is symbolic of the purity of her motives. Above her head is the infinity symbol suggesting things without beginning or end, the cycle of all life, that what goes round comes round, that this time too will pass. A lion stands in the foreground. The woman appears to calmly open and close the mouth of the apparently vicious lion. Her face is serene and she shows no signs of fear. The yellow background suggests the intellect at play. The lion is completely red representing extreme passion.
This card stands for inner strength. The Lion is symbolic of our own animal instincts, our desires, our passions, our jealousy, our rage, our lust. He traditionally represents our shadow-self, the side of us that we generally keep to ourselves, the shadow that society and respectability demand we keep under control. Each and every one of us has a shadow self and at times, when conditions are favourable, this animal, our lion, escapes or is glimpsed.
In psychology, it is through acceptance of our shadow self, by acknowledging and embracing it that we keep it under control. By denying our shadow self we create in effect, the caged animal whose fury, aggressions and passions seeth and grow out of control. When this shadow or lion manages to escape the consequences can be very disturbing.
The woman in this card sootheS the lion with her loving touch. She does not fear him for if she shows any sign of fear, he may get the upper hand and devour her. The Lion in turn, is calmed by the woman’s gentle touch. He shows his trust by allowing her get so close. He knows she means him no harm and she in fact is his friend. They appear to live quite peacefully side by side. The woman controls the beast through the power of reason and through love via the heart. She may be secretly terrified of what she is doing but she is prepared to face her fears, to take the risk, to feel the fear and do it anyway.
The lion also symbolises all the emotions and fears that were experienced in The Chariot. In The Chariot they were subdued by sheer will power and force. Here in Strength, fears and emotions are faced head-on and with courage. This woman is showing her inner strength, her confidence, and exceptional courage under the circumstances.
Inner strength is shown in many ways. A description of the Strength card I came across in a book some years ago has always stayed with me. It referred to the inner strength that is needed to get up in the morning and face each day after your child has lost their battle with cancer. The inner strength and courage to face people with children the same age as your child who is no longer here. The inner strength required to go on.
The inner strength that was required of the people who lost their families, homes and livelihoods, to tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, war and famine. The inner strength needed to face life after your child has been snatched and murdered. The list goes on and on. These people inspire us and give us hope.
The Strength card along with The Sun and The Queen of Wands represents the sign of Leo and part of their lesson in life is to find inner-strength. Leos often appear to be brave and bold outwardly but often feel lacking in confidence, fearful and with low self-esteem. In fact Leos do inherently have great inner strength, they just have to believe in themselves a bit more and to put their inner strength to the test.
When the Strength Card comes up in a reading it would suggest that your own inner strength is being put to the test. It asks you to calm down and not just react to a situation. It reassures you that no matter what is going on, no matter how dreadful the situation may be, you do have the inner-strength at your disposal to handle the situation and to survive through it. Strength asks you to feel the fear and do it anyway. To put your doubts aside and show fortitude and courage. Others may be relying on you to bring them through a difficult time.
It also questions where your strengths lie. Maybe you should examine this area of your life and assess your own strengths and how best they could be applied to your life or the situation concerned for the good of all. Are you fearful of putting yourself forward for a promotion or to start your own business. You need to calm the fears of failure and rejection. Find the pride of the lion in yourself and step forward. Others may be inspired by your courage.
This woman has great power in her hands and she may suggest that you too have great power at your disposal and are well in control of the situation. By keeping your cool, you have successfully come through any difficult situation at present. By not rising to the bait you can keep a volatile situation under control. Others are calmed by your approach to the situation. A calm approach can often be more powerful than an aggressive one. You may be showing or have the ability to help others through difficult times by using loving understanding. You may be acting as a mediator in a potentially explosive situation. Great perseverance and endurance are suggested. Using reason rather than anger. Sometimes the Lion’s pride and self-importance make this difficult to achieve.
You may be standing up to a long time adversary or bully. You discover the power within . You may be struggling with a big problem or working hard to control your anger and rage. You may be putting all your heart into a situation or project. A love of animals, especially cats is often indicated.
In a relationship this may represent a Leo. Leos often have the reputation of being unable to combine both a successful career with a successful relationship. Usually one will suffer at the expense of the other. If you are experiencing difficulties in a relationship don’t run from them. Face them head on and you will have sufficient strength to deal with them before they get out of hand. The Strength card in a relationship indicates that the couple involved have the ability to weather most storms and are generally very close. They may have gone through a tough time or tragedy and this will have brought them closer.