Strength is the eighth Major Arcana in Rider Waite tarot deck and the eleventh in the Tarot of Marseilles and in the Thoth tarot deck (where is called „Lust“). Another traditional name of this major arcana was „Fortitude“.
Traditionally, Strength was the eleventh card and Justice the eighth, but Waite switched their position, decision based on astrological correspondences. Today, Strength has the eighth position especially in the English-speaking world and the eleventh in the rest of the world, but both placements are considered valid.
We’ll see how Strength is interpreted by four important masters of tarot: A. E. Waite (1857-1942), P. D. Ouspensky (1878-1947), Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) and Papus (1865-1916, his real name being Gérard Encausse).
Waite about Strength: the Confidence of Those Whose Strength is God
When it is reversed, this card can signify: „despotism, abuse if power, weakness, discord, sometimes even disgrace“.
In his chapter about the doctrine behind the veil, Waite explains this Greater Arcana as follows: „ 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. There is one aspect in which the lion signifies the passions, and she who is called Strength is the higher nature in its liberation. It has walked upon the asp and the basilisk and has trodden down the lion and the dragon“.
Oupensky about Strength: Power of Love, Power of Unity, Power of Infinity
In his journey, Ouspensky received detailed explanations from the Voice, when he meets the woman with a lion. For him, the name of this Greater Arcana is „The Power“ and he explains that here are presented three types of power:
- the power of love, according to what Zarathustra said: „Let man be freed from vengeance; this is a bridge for me which leads to higher hope and a rainbow in heaven after long storms“.
- the power of unity: „unity of desires, unity of aspirations creates such power that every wild, uncontrolled, unconscious force is subdued. Even two desires, if united, are able to conquer almost the whole world“.
- the power of infinity: „for a consciousness that perceives the symbol of infinity above it, knows no obstacles and cannot be withstood“.
Crowley about Strength: the Joy of Strength Exercised
This is how the occultist explains his choice to name this card Lust, and no Strength: „this Trump was formerly called Strength. But it implies far more than strength in the ordinary sense of the word. Technical analysis shows that the Path corresponding to the card is not the Strength of Geburah, but the influence from Chesed upon Geburah, the Path balanced both vertically and horizontally on the Tree of Life (see diagram). For this reason it has been thought better to change the traditional title. Lust implies not only strength, but the joy of strength exercised. It is vigour and the rapture of vigour“.
Papus about Strength: Strength and Vitality
The French occultist says that „only two ideas are expressed by this arcanum:
- The idea of strength.
- The idea of vitality“.
Analysed on multiple levels, Strength offers us the following interpretation:
- Reflex of the Intelligence (5). LIBERTY.
- Reflex of Authority, of Faith. COURAGE. (To dare.)
- Reflex of the Universal Life. Manifestation of the strength of the preceding Arcanum [The Wheel of Fortune]. REFLECTED AND TRANSITORY LIFE.