Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers,
but to be fearless in facing them.
~ Rabindranath Tagore
As you may know from the increasing popularity of the topic (and perhaps from the many essays and articles I have published over the years), the numerology of your birthday, or of a particular year, corresponds to the Tarot Major Arcana cards (the trumps).
Using this system, we can learn about some general traits and patterns that can be anticipated in a given year. These will emerge as a powerful global influence.
As I had explained last year, since 2+0+1+4 totals 7, we were experiencing the challenges and joys of a year ruled by the seventh Major Arcana card: The Chariot.
Now, we enter the year ruled by card VIII.
But Wait (Waite!)
There is one small catch.
One of the most controversial things that Arthur E. Waite did when he and Pamela Smith created their new Tarot deck in 1909, was to switch the Eight and the Eleven of the Major Arcana.
In earlier decks, such as the Tarot de Marseilles, the order of the trumps was Eight/Justice, Nine/Hermit, Ten/Wheel of Fortune, and Eleven/Strength.
While some newer decks today remain true to that earlier interpretation, the Rider-Waite-Smith decks and their countless modern derivatives show the Eight as the Strength card.
Volumes have been written by Tarot scholars analyzing and arguing over the wisdom (or not) of this change.
Being a lesser mortal with fewer esoteric leanings, I choose to simply follow the Waite-Smith lineage, since that was my original deck I learned with. Most of the decks I still use are also based on its system.
So I prefer to approach this as the year of Strength. But I invite you to join me in making a mental note that Justice (fairness, legal matters, karmic balance) may also play an important part in events this year.
Take A Walk on the Wild Side
The key question to ask ourselves as members of our community, nation, and global village this year is, “Is this the path with heart?”
Last year, we all went through some challenging situations when we may have had to bite our tongues or even repress our feelings.
A typical scenario would be that, based on choices made in 2013 (The Lovers year), we then moved forward last year, steering our Chariot with steady determination. Or we might have been obliged to steel ourselves, delaying gratification, in order to see things through for longer term payoffs.
One could certainly say that, thanks to last year’s elections, political operatives were completely committed to their agendas, with loyalty to the party platform subsuming any personal exception or dissent.
But now that we are in our Strength year with no major elections (at least here in the U.S.), watch for the gloves to come off, and people to more clearly reveal who they are and what they desire.
In a Strength year, it is vital that our essential instincts be wide-awake once more. The world needs people who are fully alive — passionate, committed, and willing to go to the mat for what matters.
This is the year to face our shadows and own up to our fears, for that is the only way we can “tame” them.
Holy Flame of Life
In many decks, including the R-W-S, the flower-swathed woman in the Strength card is crowned with the cosmic lemniscate, symbol of infinity and dominion.
And she has been likened to a Vestal Virgin priestess, tending the holy flame.
She knows that fire is perilous, especially if one does not comprehend its ways, and pay attention. Tending this potentially destructive force requires grace and intelligence. But she is unafraid, and in fact calls this fire sacred.
Like a Priestess of Vesta, the woman of Strength knows her power lies in understanding, not conflict; she controls by her acceptance and not repression. She doesn’t fight it, nor does she quell it.
The Strength of Patience and Courage
In a Strength year, our courage may be tested. This is a chance to reconnect on a deep level to what you love most about your life; the people that empower you; the passion that gives you the will to face your trepidations and conquer them.
We are invited to express the great joy of being both human and animal. How would life be different if we were wildly, fully unleashed, yet always under the guidance of our higher angels?
This is a golden year for stepping up as a people, and disarming our conflicts with the hand of gentle understanding. Rather than a “war on terror,” which, if you think about it, is a horrific oxymoron, how might we wage peace?
What fears are we needing to name and tame? How can loving tolerance quiet the “beast?” And how can its magnificent ferocity serve our highest aspirations? For indeed, the two figures are not at odds. They are allies.
This year, we may be required to rise to the occasion and accept a certain amount of risk. We may even have to fight to defend what we love. As Ben Franklin wrote, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
Although there may be difficulties ahead, the gift of Strength is great fortitude. Let us not pray to be sheltered from all danger, but to meet it with courage.
We can tap into the Source that gives us infinite courage, starting with knowing that our greatest strength lies in embracing our lives fully and following fearlessly where our lion hearts call us to be.