Strength is a major arcana card that appears in the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck and others based on the Latin Tarot or Tarot de Marseilles. Like all other tarot cards, Strength is rich with symbolism that provides insight into its meaning when it appears in a tarot spread.
Symbolism on the Strength Card
On the card Strength, there is a flaxen-haired maiden in a white robe with a garland of roses around her waist. She is bending over peacefully grasping the jaw of a lion, which is clearly tamed and accepting of her ministrations. Above her head is the infinity symbol. She stands against a golden sky with a mountain in the background.
Position in the Major Arcana
Strength is the ninth card in the major arcana, but it is numbered as VIII (eight) because the major arcana of the Latin Tarot starts with the Fool (0). Major arcana cards depict the soul's journey from innocence to wisdom, and each card represents a step further along in this progression. Symbols on the card link Strength to previous major arcana cards, showing the querent has gathered seeds of wisdom from each piece of the journey.
- The infinity sign also appears above the head of the Magician (I) and represents cycles of balance and renewal.
- The garland of roses appears not only on the Magician, but red roses also appear on the clothing of one of the worshippers on the Hierophant (V). It represents protection.
- The white gown is present on the Empress (III), the High Priestess (II), and the Magician (I). It reflects purity of heart and thought.
- The mountain in the background appears on the Lovers (VI). It reflects the pinnacle of success or a high station.
- The golden sky is present in the Chariot (VII), the Empress (III), the Magician (I), and the Fool (0). It depicts courage and quiet strength.
Numerology of Strength
Strength is numbered VIII (eight). In numerology, eight is the number of karmic balance and discernment in spiritual matters.
New symbols that appear on the Strength card that haven't appeared in previous major arcana cards offer further insight into its meaning.
- The lion represents authority and leadership.
- The taming of the lion shows the maiden is using quiet strength, as opposed to brute force, to achieve a position of power and leadership. Sources of her strength don't arise from the physical force or ego-driven power, but rather from higher qualities such as gentleness, balance, compassion, kindness, and equanimity.
What Strength Means in a Spread
When Strength appears in a tarot spread, it indicates strength of character either exists or is required. It may suggest that in current matters, it's important to tune into higher sources of strength and balance in order to get through conflict. It can also indicate that if you are struggling with an issue now, resolution will come gently and from principles of maturity and wisdom instead of displays of earthly or physical power or ego.
It may also be indicating that now is the time to assert your will gently or suggesting you look at your motivations in conflict to ensure you are coming from proper principles instead of ego.
When reversed in a spread, Strength may indicate misuse of power and force. It may also indicate the querent's will is weak or conflict is on the horizon. It may also show that focus on principles of ego are holding the querent back from personal and spiritual growth.
A Gentle Reminder
Strength serves as a reminder that, although you can make gains through shows of physical force or strength, true, lasting, significant change comes from the quieter displays of strength that arise from more spiritual principles such as compassion and kindness. This card serves to show you how to make lasting gains through focus on principles based in higher realms instead of asserting the false power associated with brute force and ego.