I have seen in the world a great deal of awfulness . . .
but it is goodness, it is love, it is caring, it is compassion for which we are made.
~ Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
After the intensity of the past several weeks, the astrology calms down and the Tarot Major Arcana lends us a powerful helping hand. Welcome this week to Strength.
Here we see a beautiful woman adorned with flowers, holding the mouth of a lion. Her gentle demeanor recalls the nurturing, but more passive, Empress, or perhaps the Goddess Artemis of the Beasts.
In the Rider-Waite-Smith Strength card, she 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. Wearing a special cord or belt is a very powerful and ancient practice in many magical traditions.
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.
And yes, it just happens that on Tuesday, the First Quarter Moon will arrive, with the Sun in Taurus squaring the Leo Moon. During a Quarter Moon, there may be a crisis or challenge. If we are to see the fulfillment of the desires we planted on the New Moon, we may be pushed by a make it or break it situation.
And with Mars slowing down and preparing to station direct in two weeks, after its long, long retrograde, frustrations, tempers, and impulses may be simmering dangerously close to the boiling point.
Yet as fearsome and wild as lions may be, this woman has the peaceful touch that tames, without breaking. Even as she gently closes the lion’s mouth, the beast licks her hand.
The Force Is With Us
As long as we live, we are filled with dramatic impulses for gratification: sex, power, pleasure, and aggression. When out of balance, we can be selfish, gluttonous, greedy, dangerous, and destructive.
Repressing or fighting those forces is rarely successful and seldom brings us lasting peace. Without our physical instincts and desires, our worlds become bleak and lifeless.
Naming them “sin” and “evil” or projecting them onto others is also deeply counterproductive, as the tattered Western history of shame, blame, bloodshed, and oppression surely attests.
Such conflict is a fight against our own nature, and is rooted in fear. Fear only begets more fear and conflict.
Instead, as we see in this card, love conquers fear. The woman’s patience and compassion quiet the beast. Self-mastery is achieved, not through denying who we are, but having the forebearance to accept, forgive, and bless ourselves, in all of our parts.
Success comes, not from fearlessness or naivety, but from the stouthearted acknowledgement of what is — even the awfulness — and yet nevertheless, resolving to stand for goodness.
Mothering the World to Life
I love that this is our card for Mother’s Day, since this is an archetype of the feminine champion – the heroine who combines tenderness with ferocity, discipline with passion.
Here is the Great Mother in all Her power, rendering peaceful what is wild and dangerous, without harming or changing its essence.
Strength comes from our passionate love affair with life. This is what enables us to overcome difficulty, persevere through obstacles, and embrace those people, ideas, or experiences that connect us to the astonishing joy of living.
People speak of conquering their demons, but the Strength card shows a more successful strategy: we can dispel our fears by being centered in our own love for life. Focusing on what we love is what inspires, feeds, and protects us.
“You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves,” as poet Mary Oliver has described it.
Take a Walk on the Wild Side
In the coming week, your faith may be tested. Strength is the inner wisdom and fortitude that helps us discern what matters and what doesn’t.
This week, how might you long to express your wild side and your ardent affections? Despite possible struggles, what risks are you willing to take for the things (and people) you love?
In what ways are you being called to stretch past your trepidations, and make a bold move? How can you offer kindness to those you might once have feared?
This is an opportunity to unflinchingly gaze with acceptance and forgiveness upon our shadows. Indeed, this is the only way we can hope to “tame” them.
The world needs vigorous, committed people who are willing to take action, no matter what the risk. Fear cannot hold dominion when the roaring life force flows in harmony with our most exalted vision.
Embrace this time, knowing that it is goodness, it is love, it is caring, it is compassion for which, and of which, we are made.