Just as the body cannot exist without blood, so the soul needs the matchless and pure strength of faith.
~ Mahatma Gandhi
This week, we’re back to the Majors again, with a card we’ve only gotten once before. This week, we are called upon to embrace Strength.
The lion is a universally understood symbol of strength, majesty, and courage, appearing in the mythology of nearly every culture. And the woman, with her belt of flowers holds the animal’s mouth. Her gentle demeanor recalls the nurturing Empress, or perhaps the Goddess Artemis of the Beasts.
She has the peaceful touch that tames, without breaking. Even as she gently closes the lion’s mouth, the beast licks her hand.
As long as we live, we are filled with dramatic impulses for gratification: sex, power, pleasure, and aggression. Out of balance, we can be selfish, gluttonous, greedy, dangerous and destructive.
But without our physical instincts and desires, our worlds become bleak and lifeless. Repressing or fighting our desires is rarely productive and seldom does this bring us real peace. Such a conflict is a fight against our own nature, and is rooted in fear. Fear only begets more fear and conflict.
However, as we see in this card, love conquers fear. Her patience and compassion quiet the beast. Self-mastery is achieved, not through denying who we are, but having the courage to accept, forgive, and bless ourselves, in all of our parts.
The woman in the Rider-Waite-Smith Strength card is crowned with the cosmic lemniscate, the symbol of infinity and dominion. In this way, she is like the Magician. Arthur Waite also refers to her belt of flowers as a lemniscate, connecting her to the lion in another infinite loop.
She has been likened to a Vestal Virgin, tending the sacred flame. Overseeing this potentially destructive force so that it may be used for life-giving, not life-taking, requires grace and intelligence. She is unafraid, for she knows that the beast is sacred.
Thus, this relationship is synergistic. To be in balance, we are both animal and spiritual, flowing in harmony.
Again, Waite writes that this has nothing to do with self-confidence in the ordinary sense. Instead it shows the inner power that belongs to those whose strength rests in the Divine.
This week, our courage may be needed. What gives you the courage to walk through your fears? When, in your life, has your faith been tested, after which you were stronger than ever? Who or what inspires you to be bigger, stronger, wilder and to walk in true greatness? What or who would you defend to the death?
Remember this week your great love of life. Connect to those people, places or experiences that remind you what an astonishing joy it is to be living in your sweet animal body. To find your fortitude, you must draw deep upon the wild, majestic life-force within you.
Be aware of your own lusty, physical, maybe even ferocious responses in various situations. Rather than acting out or denying, simply notice what your instinctive responses would be if unleashed. You need not indulge them or condemn them.
Instead, see how they are a gift that may be tamed and tempered with your own loving understanding. They may, in fact, be the source of the courage you need, to move a step forward that otherwise you would fail to take.
The world needs passionate and intelligent people who are willing to take action, no matter what the risk. And if we are troubled by difficulty or shadows, love gives us the real courage to “tame” them.