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 triumphs).
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+2+3 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 Major Arcana 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.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 follow the Waite-Smith lineage, since it was my original deck I learned with. Most of the decks I still use are also based on its system.
So I will be discussing this as a Tarot 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.
In fact, here in the United States as the ongoing drama of The Former Guy heats up, we already know that our democracy may well hang by a thread – of Justice.
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 in order to power through.
A typical scenario would be that, based on choices made in 2022 (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.
For instance, last year featured numerous political operatives completely committed to their personal agendas and avarice. Their fanatical loyalty to their disgraced leader (whose corrupt and unconstitutional activities for personal gain have also been revealed) subsumed moderation, personal integrity, or dissent. This has resulted in almost no governing progress in the United States, but instead, a steady barrage of self-promotion.
However, now that we are in our Strength year, there is the potential for serious push-back on all fronts. The stakes could not be higher, as we are on the edge of a complete paradigm shift here in the U.S. So watch for any remaining gloves to come off, and people to even more clearly reveal who they are, what they desire, and what lengths they will go to, to get what they want.
It is worth mentioning that the last Strength year we experienced was in 2015. Let us not repeat the mistakes that were made at that time.
For 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
Gaze into her face and you will see deep peace. Poise and equanimity are at the heart of her ability to coexist with the dangerous lion.
We are now 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? For it may be said that the lemniscate celebrates the eternal flow between our carnal and divine natures.
This is a chance to reconnect on a deep level to what you love most about your life and the people that empower you. It is this passion that gives you the will to face your doubts and conquer them – not with a whip, but a tender touch.
Yet in a Strength year, our courage may be tested. This is an important year for stepping up as a people, and disarming our conflicts with the hand of gentle understanding. Rather choosing sides and then blaming the other, now is a time for paying compassionate attention. Instead of a “war on terror,” which, if you think about it, is a horrific oxymoron, how might we wage peace?
What fears do we need to name and tame? How can loving, steady forbearance quiet the “beast?” And how, in turn, can its magnificent ferocity serve our highest aspirations? For indeed, the two figures are not at odds. They are allies.
Rising to the Occasion
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.”
This is certainly shaping up to be a time when we must not defer from defending those liberties, nor our highest values. And it is clear that we as a species must act with daring and address immediately the grim trajectory of climate crisis that is now upon us.
Although there are likely to 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 creative, bold solutions.
Let us tap into the Source that gives us infinite courage, and the will to do what is right. It is time to awaken from the hypnosis of apathy and despair, remembering that our greatest strength lies in embracing our lives fully and following fearlessly where our lion hearts call us to be.
And thus, shall Justice prevail.