A Tarot card.
A woman, looking calm and gentle, asserts dominance over a lion. She may be clasping its jaws, sitting upon it, or merely placing one hand upon it. Some modern cards feature just the lion. Flowers are often present.
A woman, over whose head there broods the same symbol of life which we have seen in the card of the Magician, is closing the jaws of a lion. The only point in which this design differs from the conventional presentations is that her beneficent fortitude has already subdued the lion, which is being led by a chain of flowers. For reasons which satisfy Waite, this card has been interchanged with that of justice, which is usually numbered eight. As the variation carries nothing with it which will signify to the reader, there is no cause for explanation. Fortitude, in one of its most exalted aspects, is connected with the Divine Mystery of Union; the virtue, of course, operates in all planes, and hence draws on all in its symbolism. It connects also with 'innocentia inviolata', and with the strength which resides in contemplation.
These higher meanings are, however, matters of inference, and Waite does not suggest that they are transparent on the surface of the card. They are intimated in a concealed manner by the chain of flowers, which signifies, among many other things, the sweet yoke and the light burden of Divine Law, when it has been taken into the heart of hearts. The card has nothing to do with self-confidence in the ordinary sense, though this has been suggested--but it concerns the confidence of those whose strength is God, who have found their refuge in Him. There is one aspect in which the lion signifies the passions, and she who is called Strength is the higher nature in its liberation. It has walked upon the asp and the basilisk and has trodden down the lion and the dragon.
A naked woman rides a stylized lion, which appears to be formed of a legion of characters, human and beast. Its tail bears the face of a great cat and is encircled by rays, as of the sun. It wears a red harness that she holds in her left hand. She leans backwards; her face is turned from us and her hair falls upon the lions haunches. In her right hand she somehow holds the horizon, as well as a red mountain in the distance which she looks to. Rays of light burst from the mountain (volcano?) and change to smoke, turning the sky from blue to black.
Early cards came in two competing forms. In one, a man or woman battles a lion, either barehanded or wielding a club. In the other, a woman holds or breaks a stone pillar. The modern images appear to be a synthesis of these two.
The modern interpretation of the card stresses discipline and control. The lion represents the primal id part of the mind, and the woman the higher parts. The card tells the querent to be wary of the temptations of the flesh. As in The Chariot card, the querent is fighting a battle. The difference is that in 'Strength', the battle is mainly internal rather than external.
Interpreted as a person
A reliable and trustworthy friend.
The historical meaning is of the cardinal virtue Fortitude. This is the moderation between avoiding pain and danger at all costs, and actively seeking them out. The mutation into the modern meaning probably comes to us via the Catholic Church, who saw in the figure of Fortitude a parable for their struggle against sin.
- suggestion, digestion, taste
- Establish integrity of the superSelf by balancing the philosophies of specific judgment and general altruism.
- Links Geburah to Chesed as path number 19 of the Tree of Life
- Yetziratic Intelligence - the intelligence of the Secret
- Infinity symbol also over the head of The Magician.
- Organic Time - Humans The evolution of the primate into the human ancestor. Homo Sapien life is blessed with a mind of unique strength and capability, not the least of which is its ability to discern emotion from reason and imagine new elements. The human allows for the Universe to evolve in the realms and elements of the mind, soul, and God.
- Waite, A.E. (1911) 'The Pictoral Key to the Tarot: Being Fragments of a Secret Tradition Under the Veil of Divination.