The maiden and the beast: Strength and Lust

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Editor’s Note: If you want to experiment with tarot cards and don’t have any, we provide a free tarot spread generator using the Celtic Wings spread, which is based on the traditional Celtic Cross spread. This article tells you how to use the spread. You can visit Sarah’s website here. –efc

By Sarah Taylor

This week, we’re looking at Strength. Or Lust, depending on which card in the two tarot decks you identify with more: the Rider-Waite Smith, or the Thoth.

Strength - Rider-Waite Smith Tarot deck.

Strength, the 8th card in the major arcana from the Rider-Waite Smith Tarot deck. Click on the image for a larger version.

While the cards share similar imagery, on the surface the words “strength” and “lust” don’t seem to correspond quite as easily: strength tends to indicate physical might, while lust tends to be viewed as sexual. But in essence, we are actually discussing the same thing because there is much more to the ideas that the two words represent than is perhaps first apparent.

I’m going to start with the Rider-Waite Smith version, and let’s see how things evolve from there. In this tarot deck, Strength is the eighth card in the major arcana — the major arcana being the 22-card ‘deck within a deck’ that depicts our universal experience. In other words, the major arcana is “transpersonal” in nature. It draws on archetypes (each of the 22 cards refers to a different archetype) to describe the evolution of the soul as it travels through life.

As the eighth card, Strength comes after The Chariot (7) and before The Hermit (9). It is the second of the cards that have moved away from the personal archetypes (cards 0 to 6 describe human figures), and the first that deals — at least in name — with an idea rather than an object. Both Strength and Lust are associated with the astrological sign of Leo. After the discovery of the various layers of self and other, comes the discovery of the physical self as it connects with and experiences the divine.

A woman, dressed in white and garlanded with flowers, stands in a richly green landscape. Like The Magician, an infinity sign is held in space above her head. A lion stands at her feet, and each holds the other’s gaze. The lion is open-mouthed, tongue caressing her hand, while the woman’s hands rest on its upper and lower jaws.

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Sarah Taylor

About Sarah Taylor

Sarah is now taking applications for her online tarot training - a five-week course starting in the fall. Find out more on her website:
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2 Responses to The maiden and the beast: Strength and Lust

  1. Sarah Taylor sarah taylor says:

    It felt liberating here too, Len. This personally feels like my card of the moment, coupled with The Hanged Man. :)

    Grace … Such a beautiful word, isn’t it?

    Thank you!

  2. Len Wallick Len Wallick says:

    Admittedly i’m ignorant of things tarot. Never thought of this pairing. It’s a liberating blog to read today, Sarah. At least, that is how it made me feel. Thank you.

    As regards to the card for strength (the Rider-Waite Smith version pictured, at least) i have always been impressed by how it portrays true strength. Not brute force. Not primitive fury. Might does not make right. Rather it is grace and (yes!) love that not only subdues and overcomes but actually enlists the devotion and loyality of the Lion, transforming it from predator to a creature of service.

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