The angel-like woman pictured on Strength opens the mouth of a great and powerful beast with gentility and affection, and the lion submits voluntarily to this display of kindness and bravery. Thus we see that acting “strong” does not always mean acting aggressively; many situations require an inner fortitude and perseverance paired with an outer ease, humility and restraint. You may need to display “grace under pressure” or retain a silent, inner fortitude at this time. If you learn how to keep serene amidst conflict, obstacles and disagreements—and even project this enthusiastic, determined energy to others, in the middle of stressful situations—you will prove to yourself that you are in charge of how you feel, and that nothing in your external environment can distract you from your own well-being, or break the strength of your spirit.
You will also experience how powerful grace and measuredness can be towards calming the storms of the inner world. Symbolically the woman taming the lion represents the power of love and compassion to transform hate, or, alternatively, the soothing influence of reason and understanding upon our wilder, more forceful emotions. The image of the woman calmly handling the lion also symbolizes the calm with which we must face our own shadow side or baser instincts. We must be willing to look honestly and with detachment into the more “animal” parts of our nature, as well as the parts of us that are ugly, mean, jealous and greedy. Strength thus represents integration of the unconscious, and can signify a “moment of clarity” or personal breakthrough about an unhealthy or compulsive pattern. It is an image of the compassionate forgiveness and patient understanding which one must have towards toward the unconscious limitations of others, and which he must also have towards himself.
Strength also symbolizes the reigning in and taming of desire, or “mind over matter”. One can feel the difference between needs and wants, and resist his own momentary cravings, habits, baser impulses and temperamental weaknesses. One is then able to channel and sublimate these energies into work or spiritual practices. In its more negative aspects, this card can represent putting a false, pretty face on an ugly or unpleasant situation, or trying to impose rational logic onto considerations which are primarily emotional or instinctive.
The Strength card is ruled by the zodiac sign Leo, and Leo is ruled by the Sun.
Card meanings upright:
The Strength card represents your courage, passion, strength, self-confidence, patience, and compassion. This card is a reminder for you that you possess great strength and are capable of great love and care, even if others in your life may not be acting as though they care for you.
Card meanings reversed:
When The Strength card is reversed, it can represent a lack of courage, passion, or patience. You may be feeling timid or fearful during this time, despite your strong will power.