Introduction to Tarot Strength VIII: The Rider Deck and Force XI The Tarot of Marseilles.
Strength is Key VIII in The Rider Deck while, in The Tarot of Marseilles, it is Force XI. This Archetype is one of the four Virtues in The Major Arcana. A virtue indicates moral value, ability or advantage. When it occurs in tarot readings it often indicates challenges taking place to our core beliefs, usually ignited through the relationships we hold with ourselves and with others. If we understand the lessons that Strength brings we can achieve mastery over potentially self-destructive inner drives and emotions; leading to a deeper self-understand and a peaceful inner-life.
Strength VIII: The Rider Deck. Upright
Strength VII: Rider is the first archetype in the second ‘stage’ or plane of The Major Arcana sequence. The number eight characterises power, organization and executive ability; and qualities of instinct, charisma, self-motivation and competency. Strength VIII: Rider is the first of many lessons in self-discipline, self-control and wisdom.
Strength VIII: Rider is depicted as beautiful and graceful young woman dressed in a simple white gown caressing a large, orange lion. Above her head in the position of the ninth chakra we see a lemniscate, a sign for Infinity and a variation of the ouroboros, which represents the mathematical concept of ‘a quantity bigger than any number’. This is also the position of the ninth chakra which signifies the seat of the soul and the wheel to the archetypal energies that can shape one’s destiny. The lemniscate is similarly seen in The Magician I, the first archetype of the ‘first stage’ in The Major Arcana.
A garland of beautiful red roses and green ivy is woven through the woman’s head of golden hair. The interweaved garland of red, green and gold appear as a wreath of victory upon her head. The red rose is a hardy plant that demonstrates deep emotions of love, devotion and desire. Ivy is a perennial plant that can grow in the harshest environments; it represents strength, fidelity, endurance, eternity and immortality.
Similarly, her lush sash of of red roses and ivy wrap themselves around her waist then cascade down her white gown down over her hip to the ground. Red is the colour of the first chakra and, being upright, is well-defined. The first chakra is associated with our basic instincts for survival; for feelings of safety, vitality and the physical-identity of the self. Green is the colour of the fourth, or heart, chakra; the seat of our emotional or ‘heart intelligence’ and healing.
Strength VIII: Rider is completely covered in a long, flowing, white gown. White symbolizes purity of thought and intention and the colour of the seventh chakra, which represents one’s connection to the divine and spiritual and universal knowledge.
The lion is orange and the colour of the second chakra. It is the energy centre of flexibility and flow and of our ability to express ourselves in healthy and meaningful ways through money, relationships, empathy, movement, sexuality and intimacy. The orange lion is symbolic of our experiences through feelings, sensations and creativity. The lion can be a terrifying foe; his roar can leave you frozen in your tracks. However, we see Strength VIII: Rider look down directly into the lion’s raised head. She has placed her hands on top and beneath the lion’s powerful jaws and caresses the beast so gently and with such skill that the animal is at peace; even appearing in a state of bliss! In this simple act, Strength VIII: Rider demonstrates the true quality of strength which is a control over subconscious thoughts to and master one’s own emotions.
A glorious yellow surrounds both the woman and the lion. Well-defined in its upright state, yellow is the colour of intellect and understanding; of hope, happiness and honor; of energy and optimism. It is the colour of the third chakra which relates most closely to identity; the sense of self, courage, self-confidence and self-control. Yellow represents the element of fire, the sun and sunlight which gives life and light and warmth to everything it touches; often referred to as the ‘divine rejuvenator’.
The woman and the lion stand together in the open, green countryside. Green is the colour of life, renewal, harmony and safety and clearly supports a journey to healing. The mountain on the horizon can represent large, long-term undertakings in the future. Turquoise is a colour that represents being spiritually-ground and calm. It signifies a sense of wholeness, in which creativity, intuition, emotional balance and joy is stimulated.
Martha Adams Copyright 2017
Part 1 of 4.
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Reading tarot for others (and occasionally myself) is exciting, inspiring and very gratifying.