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Strength: Your Tea and Tarot Blog

-- By Hyperion Night

The Strength Tarot card from the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. A woman in white with an infinity sign above her head holds open a lion's jaws.

Inner strength. Courage. Fortitude. Compassion.

"For in the same degree in which a man's mind is nearer to freedom from all passion, in the same degree also is it nearer to strength; and as the sense of pain is a characteristic of weakness, so also is anger. For he who yields to pain and he who yields to anger, both are wounded." -- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations.

I know. It's always a little sus when someone starts an essay with a quote. But since so much Tarot symbolism comes from the ancient Greeks and Romans via neo-platonism, I thought going back to basics might help illuminate the Strength card. Because the above quote by Aurelius is about both the lady and the lion.

The lion in this Tarot card echoes the old Roman story of the lion with a thorn in its paw. It roared and stomped about and generally terrified the local villagers. Until one day, a shepherd named Androcles found himself--quite by accident--alone in a cave with the beast. Androcles could have run (and likely gotten eaten), but despite his terror he remained calm, studied the lion, and realized it was in pain. Once the shepherd removed the thorn, the lion was so grateful he became Androcles's best friend for life.

We can apply this lesson to people. Because let's face it, when have you ever calmed down a situation by losing your temper? I'm sure it has happened in the history of the world, but it's rare. The strength to stay calm and show love is much more likely to tame the beasts around us.

But we can also apply this lesson to our inner lives. We've all got lions rampaging inside us--wounds of memory that manifest in hatred, fear, desire.

This card asks us which lions are rampaging and affecting the situation. And it shows us a solution-- like Androcles we can study what's really going on inside (and outside) and react with love. That might take the greatest courage of all.

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