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The Major Arcana In-Depth: VIII Strength


This is an article in a series in blog posts…. the “The Major Arcana In-Depth” series! Every few weeks I will be featuring one card of the Major Arcana, from the Fool to the World. Come take a tarot journey with me!

To learn about the Major Arcana overall and the first card in the Major Arcana, The Fool, go here.

To learn about the Magician, go here.

To learn about the High Priestess, go here.

To learn about the Empress, go here.

To learn about the Emperor, go here.

To learn about the Hierophant, go here.

To learn about the Lovers, go here.

To learn about the Chariot, go here.

Roar, Lion, roar! But what is the Strength card really about?

For some, the Strength card is a source of, well… Strength! When the Strength card comes up in a reading, it can be a tricky card, because it can either tell you that you need strength or you already have the strength to get through the situation that you asked about… Even if you don’t believe you actually have the strength. Sometimes the Strength card in different decks will have a different name, depending on its depiction within the deck: I have seen it be renamed to Fortitude. Also, the numbering on the Strength card can be tricky: it can appear as either the 8th or the 11th (switching with the Justice card, respectively) card of the Major Arcana, at the discretion of the deck designer. However, most modern decks now have Strength as number 8. Remember that the sequence of the Major Arcana is important and can give us clues as to the nature or significance of the card, depending on which cards come before and after the card itself.

Other things to remember about the Strength card: there are many definitions of strength, not all of them being physical. Sometimes when the Strength card appears it is a reminder that inner will can overcome tests of endurance or trying times. The Strength card can be depicted differently depending on the theme of the deck or the deck’s creator. A good example of this is the Strength card of The Tarot of the Boroughs [deck review here – please note that this review was done in 2011, and links within the review may be changed, broken, or will redirect]

Some interpretations of the Strength card from my card of the day posts:

🦁 “Strength is sometimes renamed ‘Fortitude’ in certain decks, and today that word applies. You know you can do it or weather it, so why don’t you?”

🦁 “When I see the Strength card, I often think, ‘Oh lordy, how in the hell am I going to be tested today?'”

🦁 “Sometimes, our inner strength, our core of steel, our will, is all we have to rely on. But strength takes many forms. To some, strength can be remaining kind to someone that in other people’s eyes don’t deserve it. To others, strength can mean powering through to get the job done. Strength can be quiet, loud, boisterous, public, and private.”

🦁 “But if you continue to poll others about the validity of your feelings, what will happen to your internal confidence? It will be diminished.”

🦁 “Often we don’t know how strong we truly are until we are in the thick of it… and sometimes being in a tough situation is the only way we come to the realization that we ARE strong.”

Traditional depiction in RWS: The most significant symbol in the Strength card is the Lion. The Lion is usually depicted with mouth open, and a woman is either prying open the lion’s mouth, or has her hand inside the lion’s mouth. However, the lion doesn’t seem to be perturbed by this handling. Sometimes the infinity symbol appears over the lion’s head. The traditional depictions of the Strength card remind me of its meaning… I often think about the fable of the Lion and the Mouse, in which the tiny mouse helps out the larger Lion, either by nibbling the net to free the lion or removing the thorn from the lion’s paw. Sometimes an act of kindness can be an act of strength.

Keywords: Strength, fortitude, resilience, courage, how do you define strength?

Applicable Quotes:

“Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?”—God, “Evan Almighty”

“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”—J.K. Rowling

“A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water.”—Eleanor Roosevelt

Personal Meanings

What I think of when I see the Strength card: This depends on the client, the reading, and the other cards in the reading. But overall, I tell the client that they have more strength than they think they do… That their resiliency and core will be tested, but that they “pass the test”. Muster your reserves, and soldier on. You can do it.

When The STRENGTH CARD Shows Up in a Reading

Upright: You have the strength to see it through. Continue, knowing that though your strength is tested and that you think you can’t hang on, it’s worth seeing the situation through.

Reversed: How do you define strength? Maybe your definition is outdated in application to yourself and to others. Sometimes with the reversal I also see this card as both taking personal responsibility yet also taking on too much personal responsibility. What is yours to carry? Is it possible that you need to ask for help in shouldering a situation that you can’t deal with on your own?

Ultimately, if/when you read for yourself, please keep the things I listed above in mind… and if you disagree, PLEASE use your own meanings for this card. Your thoughts on each individual card are invaluable, and lead you to a multi-layered understanding of the tarot that no one individual book/Little White Book/teacher can give you. Your experience with the cards counts, too!

Tarot class dismissed!




Header image created in Canva.


How do you relate to the Strength card? Share your experiences in the Comments section below.


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© Hilary Parry Haggerty | Tarot by Hilary

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