The Strength card appears this week for the first time as my card of the week, which I have been offering on my website since early 2005. As always, the timing seems ideal. The lion is a universally understood symbol of strength, majesty, and courage, appearing in the mythology of nearly every culture. In astrology, lions are associated with the zodiac sign of Leo and are symbols of the Sun. How perfect for the week of Solstice – a word which means the standing still of the Sun. It is Yule in the Northern Hemisphere, and Summer Solstice below the equator.
The woman in the Rider-Waite-Smith card has been likened to a Vestal Virgin, tending the sacred flame. She is crowned with the cosmic lemniscate, the symbol of infinity and dominion. She knows that fire can be a fearful thing, if one does not understand it and pay attention. Tending this potentially destructive force, so that it may be used for life-giving, not life-taking, requires grace and intelligence. She knows her power lies in understanding, not conflict; she controls by her acceptance and not repression. She is unafraid, and calls this fire sacred.
The Strength card shows the gentle, courageous touch that tames, without breaking. As long as we live, we are filled with powerful impulses for gratification: sex, power, pleasure, and aggression. Out of balance, we can be selfish, gluttonous, greedy, dangerous and destructive. Repressing or fighting those desires is rarely productive and seldom do they bring us real peace. Such a conflict is a fight against a basic part of our own nature, and is rooted in fear.
However, as we see from the gentle touch of the woman, love conquers fear. Her patience and compassion quiet the beast. Fear begets more fear and conflict. True strength lies in having the courage to accept, forgive, and bless ourselves, in all of our parts.
This week, our courage may be tested. What gives you the courage to walk through fire? What or who would you defend to the death? Draw deep upon the wild, majestic life-force within you, for true strength comes from within. Remember your great love of life — those people, ideas, or experiences that remind you what an astonishing joy it is to be living in your sweet animal body.
The world needs passionate, committed people who are willing to take action, no matter what the risk. With full awareness and compassion for our fears, we are called to embrace life. Now is the time to gaze without fear upon our shadows, for that is the only way we can “tame” them.