Wordsmithing Magic from the Crossroads

A Year of Strength AND Justice – Welcome 2024

W-S Tarot Strength card framed by repeated words Tarot card of the year 2024

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.

Tarot de Marseilles Justice cardWhile 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.Waite-Smith Justice Tarot card with crowned Goddess Justicia on throne holding sword and scales

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.Ancient Roman sculpture of a Vestal Virgin at the Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence, Italy

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.

Generic version of the Tarot Strength cardYet 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.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Lorna Bevan January 5, 2024, 1:14 am

The Aries solar eclipse on April 8th is conjunct Chiron-opening a primal wound-and crosses the us from north east to south west.Warrior spirit will certainly be needed.

Beth January 5, 2024, 7:12 pm

Lorna! Thank you SO much for this… I suddenly realized I’d forgotten to sign up for your 2024 overview, which I can’t imagine trying to muddle through without. Bless you for this important insight.

Jen Braun January 5, 2024, 7:00 am

The question of, “Is this the path with heart?” is one I’ve pondered often since my nephew passed away a few years ago, and this lovely essay helps me to remember: How can we bring light and warmth and love to those around us, even when things are difficult?

And life is difficult for so many people right now…

During one Leo New Moon, I wrote a brief essay about this very question, and invite folks to read it if it feels right (content warning: suicide is mentioned) – I’ve hyperlinked it to my name above for those interested.

Hugs to you, Beth, and thank you for your work in the world! Perhaps out of difficulty, we can have the strength to plant something healing – for ourselves and others, too.

Beth January 5, 2024, 7:17 pm

Wow. Powerful essay, with tears streaming down my cheeks. Good tears. Holy tears.

Thank you for this. Strength is not always obvious, is it? Nor is our vulnerability. Bless you. And may Rex be a blessing for great good, all the days of everyone’s life – whether they knew him or not.

Kathy January 5, 2024, 7:29 am

wage peace.
thank you

Beth January 5, 2024, 7:17 pm

Waging it right beside you, Kathy. Blessings.

nofixedstars January 5, 2024, 9:18 am

it is worth remembering that the classical virtue referenced in the ‘strength’ card means strength of character, as you draw forth in your discussion. i believe antique tarot artists, as well as pixie, were explicitly opposing or contrasting this strength of character to the old “force majeur” or “might makes right”… it was reasonable to place strength after the chariot because the implication was that virtue–good character displayed through gentleness–could triumph over force of will, just as willpower could trump desire/sensual attractions (the lovers). as you say, it behooves us to focus on cultivating our collective strength of character, as well as on safeguarding justice, because both are necessary to good government and both are much imperilled in our time.

Beth January 5, 2024, 7:18 pm

Yes, it is a classical virtue, and I love how it can work together for Justice. Thanks as always, for your wisdom, Ann.

Sue January 5, 2024, 10:00 am

So beautifully written, Beth! So much hope and wisdom resides here. I feel renewed.

Beth January 5, 2024, 7:19 pm

Thank you for your kind words, Sue. I am honored.

Florence January 5, 2024, 11:19 am

Hear Ye, Hear Ye!
Beth Owl’s Daughter is NOT a lesser mortal with fewer esoteric leanings [than other Tarot scholars]. She, too, is a well-versed scholar of the Tarot.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye!

Beth Owl’s Daughter is a fascinating and beautiful Holy Flame of Life
an awesome, peaceful, (kick-ass-if-necessary) just and strong mortal.

Thank you, Beth, for this well-written blog. Great information! I would be very interested in hearing how you think we can manifest, blend and balance the wisdom of the Tarot cards Strength and Justice together in our invocations, thoughts and actions during this year. Seems like a mystical alchemy is needed! 🙂
Thank you for all you do, Beth. I appreciate you so much. Love, Florence

Beth January 5, 2024, 7:26 pm

Oh my now I am really blushing… Thank you for this lovely proclamation.. lol.

I think when we blend Strength with Justice, we get deep compassion, patience, but insistence on accountability, too. For the expectation of personal responsibility from one another implies tremendous respect for each other.

But that’s off the top of my head. Will give this some more thought.

And I would love to know what everyone else thinks.
(and my cheeks are still burning, dear Florence. 😌 Oh my goodness!)

Florence January 7, 2024, 12:48 pm

My Dearest Beth,

My intention for my “Proclamation” was to speak of how I see you…..full of Love, Wisdom, Light, Light and more Light. My acknowledgement of your wonderful impact on my life was not stated to make you uncomfortable in anyway.

However, I am smiling at my heart’s longing to tell you that because of your statement “….my cheeks are still BURNING.” What a wonderful affirmation that my vision of you as a “Holy FLAME of Life” is…well…literally spot on! WHEEEE!:)

And it feels good to be humbly standing in your Truth and to be humbly standing in my Truth. 🙂

Also thank you for your response about blending the wisdom of both Strength and Justice.

Much Love, Florence

Beth January 7, 2024, 1:36 pm

Okay now I am tearing up all over again. 🥹 Bless you, dear Florence.

Niamh January 5, 2024, 12:45 pm

Yes, yes, the way forward is Strength through Justice. Let Justice be our Strength!

So mote it be.


Beth January 5, 2024, 7:27 pm

Indeed, so mote it be!

Marguerite January 6, 2024, 12:35 am

Such a powerful and important insight into strength. So important to focus on good and peaceful aspects to accomplish unity and harmony. Justice is clearly going to be at the forefront this year and love the correlation with Justice that you pointed out. Thank you for sharing your knowledge! It is very much appreciated. Blessings

Beth January 6, 2024, 4:33 pm

Thank YOU, Marguerite. It gives me tremendous hope to know that there are more of us than those who would happily destroy what is good and decent. We just need to remember our Strength, and not have it taken from us.

Tricia January 7, 2024, 12:17 am

Thank you for such an insightful essay on the Strength card. This is the card I was born under and have had times when I don’t always appreciate the depth it offers. I love your phrasing of “wage peace”. I may use that as my mantra this year. And your initial thoughts on using both Strength and Justice together are beautiful.

Thank you, Beth, for being here to inspire us and guide us deeper into our hearts.

Beth January 7, 2024, 1:34 pm

Thank YOU so much for your steadfast encouragement and support. I appreciate you more than I can begin to express.

Yes, let us wage peace together.

The point of power
is always in
the present moment.

~ Louise Hay

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