At break of day, the king got up and hurried to the den of lions. When he came near the den where Daniel was, he cried out anxiously to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God whom you faithfully serve been able to deliver you from the lions?” Daniel then said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong.” Then the king was exceedingly glad and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. [Daniel 6:19-23, NRSV]
Strength comes in many different forms, but the Strength card refers to the kind of strength that comes from within. Historically, this card was called “Fortitude,” which means the strength of mind and emotions we need to endure pain or adversity with courage. Who doesn’t want that? The question which remains is “How do we obtain this kind of strength?”
The Rider-Waite version of the card depicts a young maiden gently taming a lion. It brings to mind legends such as Daniel in the Lion’s Den from the Bible and Androcles and the Lion from Aesop’s Fables. The infinity/lemniscate symbol that floats above her head is the same symbol that floats above the head of the Magician, Trump 1. In Arthur Waite’s explanation of the meaning of the Magician he says this symbol stands for “the Holy Spirit, the sign of life.” Furthermore, in his explanation of the Strength card he says, “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.”
It’s clear that Waite understood that while true strength comes from within, it’s source is the Divine Presence. As a Christian healer and practitioner of magic, this resonates strongly with me. I am just a vessel through which the powers of the Divine Presence and nature flow. If I tried to have this kind of strength on my own, I would eventually “run out of juice.” I believe my calling is to be still, grounded, centered and focused, and allow the Universe to take care of the rest. Like my Wiccan friends and teachers, I also call upon the Guardians, Ancestors and Elemental Spirits to aid me in my work. Again, I am much stronger with their help than I could be on my own.
That being said, I believe the Strength card is also about us. When it appears in a reading, it’s a sign that it’s time for us to “put on our big girl panties” and deal with whatever danger, challenge or obstacle is in front of us. The Strength card is telling us “You can do this!” but it’s going to take some self-discipline in order to pull it off. Now is NOT the time to go into battle with our guns blazing like the Terminator. Instead, it’s time for us to channel our “inner Neo” and find a different kind of strength that can confront situations and people that are bigger and stronger than we are.
The DruidCraft version of this card is quite elegant and beautiful. It portrays a woman in red (a color symbolic of courage, strength and protection) who pets a wild boar like its a little puppy. It’s a more Euro-centric version of the Strength since lions don’t live in our hemisphere except in zoos. It’s meaning is essentially the same as the Rider-Waite version of the card. In the explanation book that comes with the DruidCraft deck, the authors say “You will find the Wild Wisdom that sings in the depths of your soul.” What a beautiful way to talk about the meaning of this card.
Copyright ©2015 by sabbatsandsabbaths.com