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78 Weeks of Tarot: Strength


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For information on what these threads refer to, see this thread;

 

78 Weeks of Tarot - Informational Thread

 

The above linked thread gives suggested dates for the cards as well as links to the individual topics.

 

Some of us may be working through the study in a different order and using different decks. If you have general questions or comments regarding the 78 Weeks of Tarot study group, please post in the topic in the above link.

 

Have fun.

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Deck: Fairytale Tarot

 

Card name: Strength

 

First impressions:

 

It’s Beauty and the Beast. Beauty, a lovely (and tall!) blond, leans toward the Beast, caressing his face with her left hand. We see her in profile. She has long hair, which is partially covered with a blue cap of some kind. There are roses on the top. She is wearing a fancy light green gown and a string of pearls. We see more of the Beast’s face, which looks leonine. His hair is mane-like, and he has claw-like fingernails, though he is touching Beauty’s wrist carefully. He is obviously smitten. He wears a red cape. There are tapestries on the walls that feature lions.

 

I can’t remember if I have ever read the original story. Unfortunately, what comes to mind is the animated Disney version (which I loved!), but I look forward to reading the story.

 

From the book:

 

Keywords and phrases: Calmly showing strength under pressure, patience and a quiet persistence, courage and fortitude, inner conviction of purpose, a quiet mind is stronger than physical force

 

Beauty is the gentlest person in this story, also the strongest. In many ways she is the classic “fool,” yet she is brave, insightful and loving and compassionate. She can see beneath the skin. This in contrast to her shallow siblings and her weak father. She alone is able to see true beauty and go about her life with a calm courage, unperturbed by the ups and downs that come.

 

This card often refers to forms of strength that may not at first be obvious. Real fortitude is often about perseverance, trust and faith. Beauty is quiet, calm and seemingly malleable to her father’s will, yet when things are nearing disaster, she has the inner strength of know what to do, and belief in her own judgment.

 

The original story

 

Beauty and the Beast, by Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont

 

http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/beauty.html

 

Traditional meanings:

 

Inner strength, self-assurance, self-control, self-belief, patience, confidence, enjoying power, lust, sex, sexuality, eroticism, heroic acts, strength through personal power & not violence, vitality, virility, potency. Weakness, fragility, lack of self-control or patience, lacking courage, needing support, self-doubt, someone who is overbearing, breaking your own moral code, vanity, hedonism.

 

My impressions of the card/story combination:

 

The story seems like it might have been dreamed up to go with this card since it so perfectly illustrates the idea. One thing I thought of that I hadn’t before when considering this card is that much of Beauty’s strength comes from her ability, demonstrated repeatedly, to see beyond the trivial. She is the only one of the her sisters not to be distraught when her father loses his money. Her happiness does not depend on living the high life. She can see beyond her fear to understand that she needs to go to the beast’s castle in order for her family to be safe. Her strength comes from a clear understanding of what needs to be done. At first she rejects the Beast’s proposals of marriage, even though she’s afraid of him, because she does not yet love him. And finally, once she understands that she really does love him, she is able to see beyond his frightening appearance.

 

My take (what I make of it/what I might see in a reading where I drew it):

 

I think I would see that strength depends on clear thinking, which in turn depends on an ability to see what’s important, rather than being swayed by appearances and letting fear cloud one’s thinking.

BeautyAndTheBeast.jpg.dbee404f316bb99d1ab85e2a44f02357.jpg

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The Strength - Everyday Witch Tarot (Llewellyn 2017)

 

Description:

A beautiful witch is waving her wand and caressing a huge lion. She looks happy and content.

 

What action is going on:

The witch is creating or calming a storm with her wand, effortlessly, without looking. The lion and the cat look like they just want to stay close to her.

 

Images and Symbolism:

Her wand seems to be made of wood which is in contrast with her beautiful and luxorious blue silk dress. The dress is in the style of the 19th century. Has she dressed for a party or a ball or does this whole scene take place somewhere in the past?

- Lion: symbol of the sun, reincarnation, the Self, religious instinct, inborn yearning toward union

 

Colours:

Midnight blue -the witch is dressed in lovely dark sapphire blue silk. Her stockings are the same color and she has beautiful black shoes.

 

This card encourages:

- to remember that love is stronger than hate

- listen to messages from Sekhmet and other fiery Goddesses

 

Warns against:

- panic

- not to forget how strong you are

 

Traditional meanings (J. Bunning):

- maintaining composure and having stamina

- giving others lots of space

- being kind, accepting others

- working with, guiding indirectly

- inner strength, quiet determination

 

From the Book:

- She is pushing the storm away. She is so confident in her magic that she is not even looking in the direction of her wand.

- Her power comes from her confidence in her own abilities.

 

Sallie Nichols: (in Jung and Tarot. An Archetypal Journey. Weiser 1984)

- Remember to ask *whose* strength it is about.

- Don’t get swallowed up by powerful things in your psyche (like affects, feelings, emotions, instincts etc) but do not turn your back on them either

- Become conscious of the animal within, approach it calmly, wisely, gently.

- Sally Nichols compares this card with the famous painting by Henri Rousseau (painted in 1897) called The Sleeping Gypsy where the woman is asleep in the desert and a lion approaches.

 

Notes:

- for me this card has always been the patron of shapeshifters, healers and therapists

- this card is all about soft control whereas the Chariot is about hard control

 

Quote:

With enough courage and nobility it is possible to change the laws of the gods.

(Campbell)

strength.jpg.9073588ecae54da3035b784057743837.jpg

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Haindl Tarot - VIII Strength

 

First Impressions:

 

A woman holds an enormous snake which loosely looped around her. She controls it with a very light grip. The snake's tail touches a pond, causing slight ripples. The snake possibly springs from the mind, or at least touches it, giving me the feeling of it being our fears and animal sides (as usually represented by a lion in many decks). She controls the snake without physical force, she is nude, perhaps to show there is nothing between us and our animal nature - it is part of us. We see rocks and a gnarled tree behind her and a crescent moon in the sky. The red border, as well as patches of red on the snake (perhaps it's belly?) connect this card with the element of Fire.

 

Symbols: (primarily from "The Haindl Tarot Volume 1" by Rachel Pollack)

 

Number 8; Where the number "7" represents perfection in nature, "8" takes us to that which is beyond nature; the spirit, mind, ego, and God. As such, in this card we see the spirit overcoming our lower, instinctual nature. Also the Hebrew letter "teth" goes with this number (teth and 8 correspond with each other). 8 is representative of the feminine - also Strength is a "female" card representing the strength of the feminine principle.

 

Hebrew Letter; "Teth" - Snake. Relates to the "serpent power" of one's Kundalini and how we strive to activate and raise it up. The Kundalini relates to (and so the card also relates) to Shakti - the divine Feminine and the strength to control the Kundalini. (Wikipedia article on Shakti; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakti.) "Shakti energry is very great, and not to be treated lightly." ["The Haindl Tarot Volume 1" by Rachel Pollack]

 

Rune; "Sigil" - S or "Sun". "Just as the Sun gives life to the Earth, so the Shakti power burns with energy." [ibid]

 

Astrological Sign; Leo. A lot of decks show a woman gently taming a Lion. "The lion represents passion and desire, which the woman does not suppress, but learns to transform." [ibid] Leo represents the eternal flame, givingit strength and confidence. If we fail to transform the fire energy it can bring about conceit and a desire to daminate others. When we are able to bring it to a higher level it "becomes a source of divine inspiration." [ibid]

 

Snake; The power of the Goddess. The woman (ms. Pollack refers to her as a shaman performing a ritual) Raises her own strength as she raises the snake from the pool. She is making a connection between "above and below, the sky and Earth, the conscious and unconscious ..." [ibid]. The green color of the snake represents the color of new life. But the red color underneath shows the energy needed for life to exist.

 

Woman (also the Water and Trees); She displays Strength without shame or modesty. She displays humility by her kneeling position. Shame or cenceit are related to being concerned with outer appearances. The self-conscious person concerns herself with her position in the physical world. This worry is discarded when she unites with Nature. So the woman represents the power of the Feminine, the Shakti energy of the Goddess. This feminine energy is what allows us to raise our base power to our higher level. She rests one foot on the edge of the water and kneels on the land (reminiscent of The Star and Temperance) connecting our unconscious with our nature and being poised for action. She performs her ritual amongst ancient trees. These and her gray hair connect her to ancient wisdom, but her otherwise youthful appearance shows us that when we possess this strength, we are both young and old.

 

Meanings: [from "The Haindl Tarot Volume 1" by Rachel Pollack]

 

Upright; Inner Strength. Love and gentleness. Dealing with problems or situations with a positive attitude. Having a positive view of yourself, at ease with the self and so with the world around you. Taming your inner passions - overcoming something personal, such as phobias, depression or addiction. Finding strength and peace from the energy all around us. Facing things with confidence, without being overwhelmed. Discovering our connection to the Universe. Tapping into ancient wisdom.

 

Reversed; Lack of strength. Feeling overwhelmed by issues or problems. in extreme cases - feeling overwhelmed by daily life. Mental or physical weakness. Feelings of guilt or shame holding us back from life. Feeling cut off from the spiritual/Goddess power of the upright card. Hence, a need to reconnect to this power. Possibly weakness becomes an excuse to avoid work.

 

My additional meanings:

 

Upright; In a negative aspect; misusing one's power to control those who are weaker than you. You may be focusing on spiritual strength so much that you are neglecting your own physical needs. Trying to suppress or ignore our lower instincts rather than facing and overcoming them with strength and compassion for the self.

 

Reversed; Depression. Suicidal thoughts and tendencies. Alternatively, allowing base instincts and emotions to control your actions - anger, hatred, addictions. Cowardice - failing your duties or obligations. Pessimism.

 

[Edit to add attachment/image of the Haindl Strength card.]

08HaindlStrength.jpg.ba7ef09bb08c264a967e95daf9e8eb23.jpg

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tinyterrarium

 

 

Decks- The Fairytale Tarot by Magic Realist Press and the Fairy Tale Tarot by Lisa Hunt

 

Card Name and Fairytale

8 Courage "Little One Inch" more information http://www.self.gutenberg.org/articles/eng/Issun-bōshi

8 Strength "Beauty and the Beast"

 

Visual Analysis

 

What are the possible symbolic elements?   (Alberti, 2011)

 

MRP: The fancy room, animal like man, woman, figures holding hands.

 

L.H.: Dense bamboo, the size difference between figures, and the exaggerated features of the human.

 

 

How does the structure of a picture- or any visual art form- affect our emotional response? (Bang, 2016, p. xiv)

 

MRP: My eyes are drawn to the center of the image which is the negative space created by two faces. Why are these two figures touching hands and not faces? Are they friends or lovers? The second thing I am drawn to are the hands because they are in the foreground and are diagonal lines. The movement of the hands leads me to examine the room. It is decorative and the same color palette as the Beast. This contrasts with Beauty's light green dress and yellow hair. Looking at this image I feel yearning, awkwardness, and tenderness. I get the sense that the story is in motion and the relationship is building between the two.

 

L.H.: My eyes are drawn to the center where the Oni/demon is positioned. Why is he crouching down? Why is his face distorted? The vertical line of his right arm leads me to Little One Inch. His back is to me but I can see his stance is defensive. My feelings are fear and anxiety. I see the claws and dense forest and start thinking of an escape route for Little One Inch. The harsh light, dense forest, and big shadow that the Oni casts emphasizes Little One Inch's size. I normally don't see monsters during the daytime so this image was a real treat. The bamboo leaving the edge of the picture makes me think there is another level of observation from the birds above. I guess that the story is about an unfair match and a battle will ensue. 

 

 

Wisdom from the Hero’s Journey   (Fiction, n.d.)

What lessons has the hero learned about him or herself on this journey? What are we (the spectators) supposed to learn from the journey?

 

The wisdom from Little One Inch is showing strength even if you are disadvantaged or outmatched. Beauty and the Beast's wisdom was more complex in that strength had to be shown just as much to a supernatural Beast as to one's family.

 

Questions

 

Interpretation

Rachel Pollack “When I do readings for myself- contrary to popular belief, most Tarot readers read for themselves all the time- I do not try to uncover or make predictions, but instead, seek the wisdom of the cards. Because they “speak” in pictures, we can ponder what they say for a long time. Here are three questions, simple yet challenging.

 

What do I know?

 

I know strength is associated with an internal calm and patience. I think the phrase peace of mind is another way to describe strength.

 

What have I forgotten?

 

I forgot that showing strength depends on the situation. If an assertive decision is required, do that. If you need to learn to coexist with something unpleasant, find ways of maintaining your equilibrium.

 

What do I need to know and must never forget?

 

Strength isn't easy. I think about Beauty's curiosity and determination to enjoy her life despite the predicament of living and possibly being eaten by the beast. I am inspired by Little One Inch's determination to leave home and see the world despite the challenges posed by his physical size. Strength can be a big decision or a bunch of little decisions that helps during life's difficult periods.

 

References

 

Alberti, G. (2011). Symbolism within the Tarot and Comparative Visual Analysis: A Proposed Methodology for the Study of the Tarot as Applied to the Ride Waite Smith Deck. Retrieved from conservancy.umn.edu: https://conservancy.umn.edu/handle/11299/116801

 

Bang, M. (2016). Picture This How Pictures Work. San Francisco: Chronicle Books LLC.

 

Fiction, K. G. (n.d.). Science Fiction Writers Workshop: Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey. Retrieved from http://www.sfcenter.ku.edu/Workshop-stuff/Joseph-Campbell-Hero-Journey.htm

 

Hunt, L. (2009). Once Upon a Time. Woodbury: Llewellyn .

 

Mahony, K. (2005). The Fairytale Tarot. London: Magic Realist Press.

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Strength - Fifth Spirit Tarot

 

The card

A person, seated on a meadow with flowers behind and around them, has taken off the leash and collar of a big dog and is caressing it. The dog - one of these dangerous looking dogs, that is actually only dangerous and mean when mistreated by their owners, is licking them and enjoys the touch, the bared teeth no danger to the human. The collar is one of these mean ones that really choke and hurt the dogs. The person has an infinity sign floating above their head - so does the beast.

 

This is really close to both the TdM and the Smith-Waite Strength card, in imagery - the seamlessly effortless control of the beast, maybe there is even more intimacy here. It’s not a lion, so we lose some of the symbolism of this animal - but replacing it with a dog breed that tends to get misunderstood and feared, not for their nature, but for what humans have made them sometimes, is a different and to me very fitting symbolic. The infinity signs link it back to the Magician also. Rachel Pollack writes very beautifully about the card in 78 Degrees of Wisdom - I could quote the whole chapter, basically! 

 

(Will add an image of the card tomorrow, it's too dark to take a decent one now)

 

What it means to me

From strength through control in the Chariot, and from even earlier systemic strength of the Emperor, we move into true, authentic strength - by embracing our fears and inner demons, not suppressing them anymore, but giving them love and attention and integrating them into our being, to become a fully formed person. The Tibetan Buddhist practice of Chöd - of feeding your inner demons instead of struggling with them - comes to my mind.

 

While Strength is an easy card in the sense that I understand it well, it’s for me one of the hardest cards to really embody in its quality. I tried to come up with a reading to give me an idea how I can integrate the qualities of Strength more in my life, but nothing so far really worked, so I will revisit this later again, and continue to keep the presence of Strength with me for a while longer. 

 

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Edited by le_charior
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SheBeast

STRENGTH - True Black Tarot by Arthur Wang

IMG_1994.thumb.jpg.1915175ebb66c11fdd44471383f72512.jpg

IMAGERY - A small human figure stands near a massive coiled snake scarred by its wounds and peppered with arrows.  The figure bears an olive branch in its right hand that showers down gold leaves onto the snake.  In the other hand the figure is snapping several arrows.  An infinity symbol is above their head.  Spears and halberds surround Strength, three of which stand taller than the others.  

 

KEYWORDS AND MEANING:  Compassion.  Courage.  Force.  Fortitude.  

 

I've struggled with this card this week.  I think the best explanation that stood out for me was a statement in Benebell Wen's book in comparing the triumph experienced through both the Chariot and Strength.  The Chariot is the strength to master the world whereas Strength is the mastery of the self.  It is inner courage and fortitude to face ones fears with calm and compassion.  It is the willingness to approach the challenge ahead with love and kindness.  

 

The snake.  A symbol of mistrust and a subject of much fear and loathing.  Is it really all that we've made it out to be?  Strength stands tall in between this beast and its attackers.  Strength sees how fear has distorted the truth.  

 

STRENGTH APPEARS IN MY WEEK:  I usually pull the card on Sunday night before bed or Monday morning.  I take a picture with my phone, crop it and then set it as my wallpaper on my phone for the week.  So I am looking at it all week both consciously and otherwise.  Strength this week has propelled me through some rather unsavory moments and opened up a path to deeper understanding of why those moments had to suck so much.  It wasn't just that one of my birds is "not right" and I can't figure out or see yet what is the problem.  It was something so much deeper than that.  I mean I really struggle to even look at her because of this psychic recoil that I'm feeling.  But this week I did.  I looked at her deeply and with Strength in my mind I used Rachel Pollack's suggestion of using a meditative type study as a "gate" if you will.  Sliding into the card like Alice down the rabbit hole.  I came to understand through this process that I don't want this bird to leave me.  I don't want to feel that loneliness.  Because of that fear I've lost precious time and have separated myself from her to try and dull the inevitable.  I have also taken myself away from her.  Strength has also guided my situation at work.  A challenger.  An adversary.  A liar and an accuser.  No one believes them but the attacks have continued so long as I've approached this with a spear rather than an olive branch.  I have not exerted control....rather I've lost control.  Strength has given me much to practice this week.  

 

 

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Deck: Tabula Mundi

Card: Lust - Daughter of the Flaming Sword, Leader of the Lion

Zodiacal Trump: Leo

Hebrew Letter: Teth (serpent)

Tree of Life path: 19 from Chesed to Geburah 

 

Thoughts:

This depiction shows a goddess grasping the serpent-lion. There are many goddesses associated with large cats and they tend to have vigour, fierceness and sex associated with them. 
The lion is representative of Leo and the sun. The red lion is also an alchemical symbol - willpower directing vitality and integrating and transforming the animal nature. 
The goddess holds the same Grail which was carried by the charioteer. There is reference in the guidebook to the woman also being the Moon illuminated by the Sun. She is Babalon and also a reference to the Aeon of Horus. This is the Age of Aquarius which is an axis of polarity - Aquarius - Leo.

The red rose is a symbol of the root chakra where the kundalini rises. 
 

Overall, there is a sense of here of joy in strength. A vitality comes from transforming our animal nature and following our passions with courage. 
 

 

EF75F947-E2E8-49A6-8DB9-ED50E49D26E2.png

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2 hours ago, SheBeast said:

I usually pull the card on Sunday night before bed or Monday morning.  I take a picture with my phone, crop it and then set it as my wallpaper on my phone for the week.  So I am looking at it all week both consciously and otherwise

What a great way to have the card present for the week, @SheBeast! Never thought of that!

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8 minutes ago, le_charior said:

What a great way to have the card present for the week, @SheBeast! Never thought of that!

I agree! It’s a lovely way to connect with the card over the week. 
 

Thank you both for sharing your cards. It’s really interesting to see the different ways this card is portrayed and your experiences of it. 

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SheBeast

I find it really helps to keep the message at the forefront of my mind @le_charior and @Flaxen.  Especially when I have a distracted week like the last one.  I agree that Rachel Pollack's write up on Strength is brilliant and most of the time I can flow with it but this past week I got a little lost in it.  I like that @Flaxen that you presented the Lust aspect of Strength.  I feel like the card has a range of applications rather than just a single point of focus.  Admittedly its a card I keep coming back to and peeling back the layers on.  Thanks for sharing your insights.  Both were awesome.

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