The Fool’s Journey
Empowered by the success he has found thanks to the advice of The Chariot, The Fool’s arrogance begins to take over. His thoughts turn hot with a new passion for greed and vengeance. In this state, he comes across a petite woman struggling against the force of a mighty lion. He wonders what this woman might reward him with if he were to save her—what might be in it for him (this is why Crowley renamed this card to “Lust”).
The Fool runs toward the woman, but just as he arrives, he is shocked to see the young woman close the lion’s mouth. This beast that had seemed so ferocious just moments ago has now completely submitted to the woman.
“How did you do that?” The Fool asks.
The maiden, with a knowing twinkle in her eye, answers. “A beast, no matter how ferocious, will submit to a superior will. Inside of us live many beastly impulses that must be tamed. These impulses are part of what makes us human. They are not bad or wrong in themselves, because there is a time and a place for them, but it is wrong to allow them to control us. We are human, not beast, and must therefore control our inner beasts so that they may be put to use for higher purposes.”
The power in the eyes of this saintly maiden inspires The Fool to quite his own rage. He leaves her enlightened, knowing that it wasn’t just the lion that was tamed by the maiden’s pure and innocent strength.
The story of Strength is not one of brute force or physical prowess. In fact, Strength in this case has very little to do with the physical body, but instead speaks to a strong will and mind. Someone with a strong character is also someone who is in control of their emotions and has risen above their most base desires.
While The Chariot teaches us to control emotion, Strength challenges us to rise above them. Strength is not about forgiveness or compassion, but instead values patience, courage, and fortitude.
The fiery lion was not chosen as a symbol by accident. Strength is a fiery card that requires action. Such action may not see immediate results, which is why patience as a virtue (symbolized by the maiden) must meet such action with continued persistence in order for one’s goals to be achieved. Success is assured, if you have the patience and endurance to apply action for as long as is required. Often, a little action applied over a long period of time is much more effective than a quick burst of power that explodes and is finished. This is the primary lesson found in this card.
If there is any lack of conviction, you can expect failure as your emotions rage out of control. The inner beast can often be noisy and demanding. The roar of emotions, fear especially, can often drown out the whispers of intuition, and only by quieting our inner demons can we be fully open to the spiritual tasks we need to accomplish. Because of this interpretation, you may find that this card appears when a spiritual work is about to begin, so you’d better be prepared.
Avoid using emotional words to interpret Strength. This is not a card about love conquering fear, or compassion vs. anger – it is simply a card of mind over matter. Wisdom is not an emotion; enlightenment isn’t either. To find this path you must transcend emotion. Practice by letting it go.