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The Strength card in all its forms—physical, mental, emotional, comes from will. Deep inside every giant and every miracle worker is a fierce determination to a cause. That determination can be a quiet one, or it can be loud, and fueled by rage. It can be ignited by a spark, or it can be an ongoing passion that is as much a part of life as is the breath we draw. It is fed by purpose, by the feeling of being supported by others who mean something to us.
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(Note: In some decks this may be card 11, in others it is card 8. Either way it is still valid.) The image of a young woman calmly restraining a lion is a classic medieval image. It is a timeless allegory of one of the earliest “secrets” known to (wo)man, but this image is directly lifted from a woodcut by Albrecht Dürer, here.
Femininity, seemingly harmless and needing of protection from the harsh realities of daily life by the strong protectorate of masculine rage, can (and has throughout time, too many times to count really) destroy the strongest man with a smile. This woman is in tune with her innate powers and prowess as a woman as symbolized by her garlands and the infinity symbol floating above her head. She owns this kitty.
Desire is a great motivator to create this determination, and need is the most powerful motivator of all. Think carefully on this, for below all of our plans and dreams lie these subtle impetuses. These are destiny makers, and this is the root of all magic. Therefore, the Strength Card is the root of all magic. This is the conveniently hidden tool of The Magician, and it is how he makes his candle(s) burn at both ends simultaneously, even to the chagrin of gravity. This is the shaping of the Laws of Attraction and Repulsion, and the conjuring up the powers of the other mysterious laws of might and magic.
Perseverance is called for. This doesn’t mean “wait.” It means use a gentle hand (one with an iron grip if you happen to have one handy). You don’t “snap” a lion’s jaws shut. You keep applying pressure until like any other cat he gets tired of fighting you and tries it your way for a moment. The trick is not closing a cat’s mouth, it is keeping the cat from squirming and clawing you to shreds while you are doing this. And that is what the Strength card is all about.
Take your time. Stay with this. Do not give up, not now. Not ever. Surrender is defeat. When you see this card, it is a warning, an omen, a command of patient application of inner strength. But always remember that strength does not mean stupidity. If you are in a bad relationship and the Strength card shows up in a card position of “advice,” this card is not telling you to “grin and bear it.” It is telling you to draw on your inner strength, draw from the source (from friends, from your deity, from your inner desires, etc.) and take whatever actions that are indicated by the other cards. Do so from a position of strength, even if that means “running away.” Sometimes it takes more courage to leave than it does to stay in a bad situation. There is the devil you know versus the devil you don’t.
If this card shows up as a character quality in a person, it is a good indicator that you can rely on that person. In a job it lends itself to stability and tenure, and the ability to make decisions with enough autonomy to be truly effective in that job rather than just another corporate placeholder in line. In almost every case, the querent is “the woman” and not “the lion.”
Except here . . . now you get to be “Mr. Lion.” Occasionally this card reversed will show being dominated (we hear that some people are actually into that), but not just by a “woman.” This could be an alcohol, food, sex, or drug addiction (look for Cups and Swords obviously). Other times it will show weakness, fear, hesitancy, or running away from issues.
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