Updated: Jul 26
From the Vault
This story was originally published in May 2021 as an Instagram post. It still resonates to this very day, and I think it's an appropriate interpretation of the Strength card.
My son graduates Thursday, and then he leaves for college next month. I've known the day was coming. I've felt it looming for quite some time. Yet and still, I've pushed away the thought. Denial is easier. Safer. Less scary.
I'm reminded of a time only a couple of weeks after I had left home for college when my Mama drove up to visit me. I was working at Pizza Hut and she sat in a booth on the wall of windows. As I brought her sweet tea to the table, I studied her. She looked small, tired, and her eyes were full of fear. When I assured her that I was smart and capable and independent, she cried into a napkin and said, "You'll never know how scary this is until you're a mother."
Fast forward 26 years and here I am: terrified. What if Devan's hurt on that football field? What if he does something asinine and loses his scholarship? What if a racist cop pulls him over and shoots him because he's Black? What if he never comes home again?
And so, lately I've been hobbling around crippled by fear. This morning, though, I had somewhat of a revelation. The thought crossed my mind, "What if you focused on how much bigger your strength is than your fear?"
What if I focused on my strength and what I KNOW I am capable of facing rather than the uncertainty and inconsistency of fear? Just what can I endure?
"Just look at what you have already endured," that voice whispered back. "Look how strong you've already been."
I write this today as a reminder that fear is a stifling liar, but strength is braver, steadfast, and as long as we believe it, infinite.
What is the meaning of the Strength card?
The Strength card is one of the tarot’s cards that needs very little analysis to surmise a meaning. Put simply, this card can represent calming the wild within, practicing restraint. It also serves as a reminder of the infinite courage and resolve one possesses within oneself (the individual) to overcome and/or accomplish the unthinkable (the lion). In relatable terms, you can do hard things.
Strength: A Deep Dive
The day is still sunny out when the Strength card lands on your desk, and there are infinite possibilities for manifesting what many (including yourself) deem impossible. At first glance, we see a fair-skinned, blonde, effeminate person and a male lion with an impressive mane. The person is dressed in a flowy, white gown with an ivy crown upon their head and a flowery apron around their waist. They’re leaning forward, their hands positioned on either side of a lion’s snout and jaw. Notice the lion’s behavior; as he gazes up at this person, he licks their wrist, his tail tucked submissively between his legs. The two stand amid a lush countryside, a few trees in the near distance and a single mountain peak farther away.
If the Strength card lands on your desk during your daily card draw, or within a spot in your tarot spread that represents you, the writer, you are called to demonstrate gentleness and patience with yourself and your work. Your strength rests in your patience for seeing things through by the detail. Your writing, the pressure to write, readers, your author platform are all roaring for your attention. Have courage and express strength through reserve and resolve. Courage is yours and is available to you at an infinite capacity.
You may not feel like it at times, but you have Strength beyond what you think you can endure. As a writer, this includes conquering your worst fears: Fear of failure, self-doubt, fear of rejection, fear of criticism, fear of judgement, and even the fear of success. How can you draw upon your inner Strength when faced with one or more of these fears? Work through them, not around them. Allow those feelings the space they need to run their course and allow you to heal. Validate how you’re feeling by doing what you do best: writing. Journal about how you’re feeling and then pull a card or a few around how you can muster your Strength and move forward.
Strength Reversed: the Shadow
When reversed, Strength is lost or delayed. One becomes susceptible to doubt and the loss of self-confidence. Fear sets in, preventing good decision-making, launching one into the dizzying turmoil of analysis paralysis. The lion turns on the woman, leaving her bootstraps slippery and illusive.
Notable Symbols for the Strength Card
Spirit / Fire
Eight, in numerology, is the number of achievement and manifestation.
Lemniscate—The lemniscate is the symbol for infinity, and as we can see in this card, this symbol hovers over the figure’s head. This symbol can also represent simplicity and balance. It serves as a reminder that infinite possibilities surround us every day. Can you recall another card before this one where we also see the lemniscate? How might they relate?
Wreath—The wreath can symbolize victory, the never-ending love of God, the cycle of life from birth to death to rebirth, as also reflected in the ouroboros.
Lion—The “king of the beasts,” the lion can symbolize majesty, strength, courage, power, royalty, pride, wisdom, protection.
Like The Lovers card, and many others, if the Strength card represents your character(s), then their attributes are pretty similar to how the card might represent you, the writer.
When I was writing A Bright Light, a novelette about a single mother struggling to provide for her children around the holidays, I drew inspiration from the Strength card. I thought about the woman in the card and imagined her as my main character, Ashley. I considered the lion and thought about Ashley’s struggles as a whole. Although she didn’t realize it, she’d demonstrated incredible strength in past strife, and she had what it took to get through her current situation... with the help of a little magic, of course.
Who can the figure in the card be?
The person in the Strength card might be a heroine, a healer, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a mother, a witch, an angel, a zookeeper, a veterinarian, an animal whisperer, a caregiver, a menagerie man.
Famous character(s), people, books, or movies that embody this card’s energy:
Ashley in A Bright Light, Anne Frank, Celie Johnson in The Color Purple, John Coffey in The Green Mile
On Monday, you can look forward to Part Three of my Five-Part Series: Tarotcatures. In Part Three, I examine the Queens of the Court cards and pair them with personalities I feel directly resonate with each Queen's energy.
In her more than thirty years as a storyteller and visual designer, Amanda “Mandy” Hughes has written and designed over a dozen works of upmarket, literary, and women’s fiction under pen names A. Lee Hughes and Mandy Lee.
Mandy is the founder of Haint Blue Creative, a space for readers and storytellers to explore, learn, and create. Although she earned a Bachelor and Master of Science in Psychology, she has yet to figure out her family, much less herself. And that's a good thing!
When she’s not writing, Mandy loves going to the movies, theater, traveling, nature walks, birdwatching, margarita-making, and binge-watching The Office. She is a tarot enthusiast who uses the cards to promote wellness and enhance creativity. She lives in Georgia with her husband and four boys, two of whom are furrier than the others (but not by much). Visit her website at haintbluecreative.com and follow her on Instagram @haintbluecreative.