THE PATH TO SEVERITY
To best understand the STRENGTH card, we must first examine its path on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. It is a path between Chesed (Mercy) and Gevurah (Severity). To cross this pass, we charter the territory of the desert of Da’at (knowledge). Da’at is an invisible Sephira, that unites all ten Sephirot. It is in the Da’at that an idea becomes reality. And so it is with the Strength card. Unlike its preceding trump, THE CHARIOT, which commands will and determination to look outword and forward, STRENGTH calls on us to find the will to subdue our animalistic instincts and look INWARD. For it is only when look into our subconscious, and get in touch with our Higher Selves, do we begin to understand that reality is only in our perception. To make a move into the true reality, we must find the strength to lose our egos, our “I”s. And that is, by far, the most difficult task for any human.
Astrologically, STRENGTH is ruled by the Zodiac Sign of Leo, symbolized by the Lion. The Lion usually symbolizes brute force. Mind you, that force is not always destructive. It can also be used constructively in the right situation. And so, on the path from Chesed, the Lion is that very visceral energy that prepares us for the devastating sword of Gevurah. On the other hand, Leo, ruled by The Sun denotes the solar power, that can help us open the levels of consciousness beyond our limits.
Another important signifier of this card is the Hebrew Letter ‘Teth’, which is assigned to STRENGTH. Teth means serpent. It is this relationship, of interchanging a Lion with the Serpent that we begin to understand that the realities the two symbols represent can, likewise be interchanged.
The STRENGTH card, clearly places the scene in the desert of Da’at. It is understanding and knowledge that drive STRENGTH. For we must tame the animal (Lion) within us, with the help of the serpent (wisdom).
The serpent encircling the woman and the lion is Ouroboros, one of the oldest mystical symbols in the world. It is a snake enveloping itself. In it the past (tail) appears to disappear. And yet, reality moves into an inner domain (or true reality). This reality vanishes from view, yet it exists. Thus, the Ouroboros represents cyclical nature of the Universe: creation out of destruction, life out of death. It is, therefore, true wisdom.
TAMING THE LION
The woman, who seems to have blended into the lion as she tamed him, is the very representation of the will power controlling vital life energy. In some ways, she can be the very representation of Carl Jung’s archetype of the ‘Wise Old Man’. For she is the wise person who subjugated the wild animal through the force of her humanity. She did that through the highest quality of her humanity, by which she brought under control the highest qualities of the beast (her own animalistic instincts). And that takes strength! Not physical strength, but the strength of the mind and soul.
In a Tarot Reading, STRENGTH can represent one of the following:
- Inner strength
- Personal power
- Personal power