Barbara Moore, art by Aly Fell
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Respectful Victorians exhibited their own unique form of strength by keeping a stiff upper lip and repressing—er, controlling—their base, or animal instincts and desires. In this card, we a healthy dose of the “punk” from our theme of “Steampunk.” In our version of Strength, a gentle woman performs a revolutionary (or so it would seem to a Victorian) act of strength.
Cards from older tarot decks show a human wrestling a wild lion. This expressed the idea that people had a wild, or evil, side of themselves that must be constantly fought, repressed, or controlled or it would take them over and utterly destroy them.
This woman suggests a different tack. She believes the lion that stalks her is simply a symbol of her shadow self. In Jungian terms, the shadow self is comprised of all the parts of ourselves that we dislike, don’t value, and are ashamed of. These parts, she says, are not bad in and of themselves; rather they are aspects of ourselves that have been wounded. If ignored or repressed, they become infected. After a while, they grow so large that they burst…showing up in our lives in inappropriate and even destructive ways. This approach, she insists, never works in the long run.
Instead, she counsels that we approach our inner monsters with compassion, because that makes it easier to determine what caused the damage in the first place. Once we identify the root couse, we can remove it, just as she has extracted that gear from her lion’s paw. Yes, it hurts, and yes, it is scary. The lion will probably roar—you may even get scratched or bitten. But it must be done, for only then can healing begin. From this healing comes strength.
Just as in the fable of the mouse who pulled the thorn from the lion’s paw, after the hard part is over, the lion will be a devoted servant. In the same way, our shadow selves, grateful and healed, can be integrated into our whole personality. What we hid from—our anger, our fear, our emotional needs—we now welcome and learn how to express in our lives in a healthy and useful manner.
When confronted with the Strength card [in a reading], you are well advised to tap into your deepest inner strength and express it with calm compassion. The infinity symbol in the Magician represents your connection with the energy of the universe; in this card it represents your connection with all aspects of yourself. In the Magician, this connection generates extraordinary power. In this card, it creates amazing strength. Find that connection; feel that strength. Do not forget to apply it with a light touch. A little goes a long way.