When tracing the history of the tarot
back through the ages, one can pinpoint when the first decks appeared in Italy in the 14th century. It is believed that the royal court designed the cards and gave them out to the masses as a way to help teach virtues and to entertain at the same time. One of those virtues, Strength
, is the eleventh or the eighth card in the major arcana, depending on the deck that you are using.Strength
is one of four virtues, although prudence is missing in most tarot decks, while strength, temperance and justice all have managed to find their place within the average tarot deck.
Most folks would attribute these virtues being depicted on tarot cards as direct link between the Italian people and the ironclad grip the Roman Catholic Church had on the local populations in the 14th century. While most western tarot decks did become Christianized over the years, the four major virtues actually go back to the teachings of ancient Greek philosophers like Aristotle.
It should not be any surprise that the original number of virtues were four
. Four has been a powerful number throughout human history because of the association of four seasons in a year, four points on a compass and so on. In later years, Christian influence added three more virtues, love, hope and faith, raising the number of basic virtues to seven, an even more powerful number.
The varying position, even to this day, of the Strength card isnít much of a surprise to tarot scholars. Cards have always found different places in the deck, even the trump cards, depending on what region you were visiting. Many decks place the three tarot virtues, Strength, Temperance and Justice, all together in the deck, while other decks separate them.
Decks vary from placing Strength towards the back of the trump cards, with Justice at the top, adding far more meaning to that card than most decks do. Other decks have the three virtue cards together as a whole, while others have each virtue card separated by the same number of cards, and the opposites of each virtue immediately following every virtue card.
The physical depiction of the Strength card has also changed quite a bit over the centuries. Originally, the drawing showed a female warrior holding, or breaking a stone column in half with one hand while a demure lion sat at attention at her feet. Later decks showed the Strength card as more of a battle between the lion and the human figure, with the figure, sometimes male, sometimes female, beating the lion with a stick. Later versions simply showed a female figure astride a lion, taming it and controlling it.
And that is truly the root of the Strength card. The most common interpretation of the card is that it stands for control and victory over forces that wish to distract you, or make you impure.
There is a definite connection, again, to the temperance card. By staying away from material possessions and excessive wealth, youíll be happier and on a much more pure spiritual plain.
It has long been believed that the depiction of the lion and the female figure on the Strength card represents a battle that is constantly being waged inside of us.
The lion represents what Freud would say is your Id, or your carnal desire center. The female on the card would be your Super Ego or the taught portion of the brain.
These two are constantly in battle against each other, the Id, or the lion, wants nothing but pleasure regardless of the moral and ethical consequences, while the woman, or the super ego, wants to be civilized, proper and respectable.
In most cases, when the Strength card
comes up during a reading, it is a positive sign. It means that, in the context of your question, that you are resisting the bodily desires of your lion and living out your life and accomplishing your goals in a proper, respectful, and if you want, a decidedly Christian, manor. The Christian influence on the tarot can be easily seen with the Strength card.
When the card appears reversed however, it can be assumed that you are allowing immorality and carnal temptations distract you from the life you should be living, or could be living. Of course, like anything else within tarot, the interpretation depends on the original question asked at the time of your reading.Learn to Read Tarot in LESS Then a Day! Click here!Would you like to know the MISSING ingredient that IS the core genesis to the secret of all secrets, and with it you will know how to immediately ignite the self-directed creation of anything you desire! HINT: The secret activator software near the end of this page is AMAZING! Click here!