Strength. It seems so simple. The word reminds me of a time with my dad. We were watching a game. And I asked him a riddle. In return he asked me a riddle. Something about a seven letter word with one vowel. After a long time, and many guesses I gave up.
The answer was strength. Watching the game he told me they were using the word.
We often first think about strength in terms of ability. Like Hanuman who lifts a whole mountain. Muscular people at the gym. In passing we think about the strength of a tree. Or a strong pillar. Something which holds weight. But both these are physical terms.
In the tarot strength is more. It isn’t just about the outside world. We also need strength with ourselves. It isn’t just the action. Being able to remove a foe. Or even the ability to withstand a foe. It is taking the time to think. It is about feeling what is right.
Our lives are full of events which can upset us. But if we race off in anger all the time. We show weakness. And if we remain unmoved through all events. This can also be a weakness. The lion is a figure on many Strength cards. We must be like the lion.
It sits under a tree. As a heard goes by, it watches. You may not think it is acting on its environment. But the lion is strong enough not to run at the first prey. It sits and waits for the moment. Then in a flash, it springs to action. In the moment strength is about movement. It is about taking clear action. An action so fast it looks unplanned. But is really the result of a thought sitting in our minds for a long time. Without holding back, without pause. The lion will kill the prey.
In the card before we were on The Chariot. This card shows a figure with two horses. They are the polarities of this world. The figure is using their power. But he is only channeling their potence. They remain outside. They also remain apart.
In this card we see a knight. Looking right at us with a sword at hand. But it isn’t raised. Not a person eager for a fight. The sword and the armor speak to a readiness. But his pose and his square shoulders speak to a calm. The knight is waiting like the lion.
The knight has a greyhound. Dogs are know to be loyal. But also represent out instincts. When the moment is right action will take place. Greyhounds are known for their speed. So the knights action will be quick. True to instinct and loyal to the heart.
The number of this card is eight. Eight is a card of power. Connected to infinity. In the minor arcana they are about change. In Wands the change is fast. And in swords we see a need for change. This card is about the nature of change. There are two kinds of strength. Like an oak, which breaks in the wind. And like a bamboo which bends in the wind. The greatest strength is being able to do both. As needed. And given the nature of constant change. We always have to struggle to maintain our balance. It requires constant strength is adjust to the world. Because the world is change.
As the figure takes these energies inside. As these energies are united. The figure grows stronger. And will soon be able to set their own path. They step into the darkness, the unknown. True strength must be used in the world. In the next card we see The Hermit. A figure with the strength to be a guide for others.
This card is telling you to think about your strengths. And where you are weak. How can these two forces work together. Instead of being at odds. This card suggests you are trying to hard in one area. And maybe not hard enough in another. Your efforts are not balanced. They are not clear. And not true to your heart. This is a card calling you back to your heart. The source of all our true strength. Come home.
Whatever you struggle with right now. Taking a step back will only help you. Go back up under the tree with the lion. Ask yourself if this is a real threat. Is the action needed clear. Will it be quick and done? If not you may be using the wrong tactic.
Give a different voice in your head the switch. Be open to opposing ideas within you. And from without. The true warrior knows to listen to wise council. The warrior is willing to adjust plans. Meditate. Focus on this thought: only love is real.
The riddle my dad gave me wasn’t fair. The clues weren’t in the question. But if I had the strength to be patient. The strength to work our a plan. To figure out a process to get me to the answer. I would have been able to solve it on my own. But I was young.