Strength — Three of Swords — Seven of Coins — Russian Tarot of St. Petersburgh

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Artist: Yuri Shakov


Last night, in an attempt at sleep, I read the entirety of Wang’s An Introduction to the Golden Dawn Tarot. Unfortunately, I found it riveting. I want to try moving towards multiple card readings. I would like to try to remember the stories behind how one card relates to the other. I draw three cards— past, present, future.


The past is Strength. Not that Strength is past, but that physical Strength was the most obvious manifestation of my very-independent Self. That Self has past in the direction of the Three of Swords. The body and one’s apparent independence are ultimately impossible to hold onto. It is best to become less attached to them before necessary. This decreases heartache and increases freedom. The Three of Swords leads onward to the Seven of Coins. Having a child is always the Seven of Coins. I imagine the investment is perpetual, tho one hopes to put less effort into it over time. And I imagine harvest thus:


—hunting for ripe blackberries at the beginning of the season—

among the brambles
not quite out of reach
one sun-kissed drupe
placed upon the tongue
evokes a wash of purple
dripping from the sky
melting over thorns
a be-here-now
of sunlight

in the mouth

Strength — Tarot of the Absurd

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Jessica Shanahan[Strength is one of the first cards I illustrated, back when I was drawing with black ink and a horsehair brush, living in a tiny cabin in Alaska, riding a bicycle everywhere I went. I have always been quite satisfied with her appearance.]


Right-side-up: Strength, courage, patience, control, compassion
Up-side-down: Weakness, self-doubt, lack of self-discipline


In the Rider-Waite-Smith deck and its plethora of clones, Strength is depicted as a women gently opening the jaws of a lion. The lion, a symbol of animal passion and desire, is sticking out his tongue, which he would not do if he was preparing to bite. This lion is happy to submit; the woman has successfully tamed the beast. This card is obviously not focused on pure physical strength. The woman overcomes the lion with a quiet, inner strength. When placed with its toothed mouth gaping between the women’s legs, the lion becomes a seductive reference to women’s power: the inner strength and perseverance needed to overcome oppression.


The lion’s position also becomes a subtle reference to the “vagina dentata,” a term which Sigmund Freud is often credited with coining. Literally, it means “female genitalia with teeth.” This image of the toothed vagina captured what Freud described (or experienced) as fear of castration, which he argued all boys (or men) feel upon first seeing female genitalia. Freud wrote:

“Probably no male human being is spared the terrifying shock of threatened castration at the sight of the female genitals.” (Three essays on the theory of sexuality. Trans. James Strachey, Basic Books: New York, 1962, p. 216.)

On the other end of the spectrum, Camille Paglia wrote in Sexual Personae:

“Metaphorically, every vagina has secret teeth, for the male exits as less than when he entered.” (p. 13)


In ancient civilizations, women do not only give life, they take it also. Dark Goddesses are both the manifestation of the warm, nurturing womb and the devouring gateway to the afterlife. The Norse Goddess Hel ruled over Helheim, whose gateway was a vagina. The Christians, who adopted Hel’s name into the after-world of Hell, often depicted Hell’s gateway lined with teeth and looking very much like female genitalia.


While Freud’s argument for the universality of this fear may seem ridiculous to most of us, the image is prevalent through world mythology. Various cultures have folk tales about women with toothed vaginas. These are possibly told as cautionary tales warning of the dangers of sex with strange women and to discourage the act of rape, tho the tales are more predominant in the more patriarchal societies— perhaps representing man’s fear of being conquered by what he seeks to oppress.

Strength — Tarots Oreste Zevola

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Artist: Oreste Zevola

 Tell me something about a little boy’s anger.


Upright: Strength, courage, patience, control, compassion

Reversed: Weakness, self-doubt, lack of self-discipline


This card represents not physical strength, but inner strength and the power of the spirit to overcome any obstacle.


Strength is great stamina and persistence, tempered by an underlying patience and inner calm which reveals great composure and maturity. Inside each of us is a passionate, reactionary side that sometimes shows its Beastly-face. It takes great Strength to bring instinctual reactions into balance with the greater good.


Strength does not act out in rage or hatred, but looks at the situation with love and compassion. Strength’s calm inner-voice is often drowned out by the hubbub of emotion and fear. The qualities of Strength appear once raw emotion is transcended; this creates a silence where spiritual wisdom and intuition may awaken. Strength is a higher level of awareness that allows one to take responsibility for the Self, master the Self, then let the Self be the master of its world.


Strength offers love and patience to tame the Beast. She gives space to the needs of others. She forgives imperfections. Thus, she creates a safe and trusting environment of gentle influence. Strength is the Beast Whisperer.


Strength says: Conquer your fears; control your impulses. Be strong, assertive, and persevering. Do not lose patience with yourself or what you are doing. There is no room for self-doubt. You have the strength to tame the beasts within yourself. If you are pushing too hard, withdraw and be patient. This time of trouble, too will end.


Tame yourself. Subdue the the Beast with love & peace.

11. Strength — The Shakespeare Oracle

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

[One well versed in Shakespeare could use this deck to learn tarot and never need to look up a meaning in the book.]

Artist: Cynthia von Buhler
Author: A. Bronwyn Llewellyn


Interpretation: “This card suggests fortitude, confidence, and command. This isn’t the raw courage and endurance needed to leap into battle, but the inner strength to do what has to be done, no matter how difficult or long it takes.” Etc.


I keep forgetting to ask a question. I have no idea what this card answers other than the eternal question “Who am I?” This is not a bad thing. Ramana Maharshi tells us:


“Who am I” is not a mantra. It means that you must find out where in you arises the “I”-thought which is the source of all other thoughts. [AND] Self-enquiry is certainly not and empty formula and it is more than the repetition of any mantra. If the enquiry “Who am I” were a mere mental Questioning, it would not be of much value. The very purpose of self-enquiry is to focus the entire mind at its source. It is not, therefore, a case of one “I” searching for another “I.” Much less is self-enquiry an empty formula, for it involves an intense activity of the entire mind to keep it steadily poised in pure Self-awareness.


Unfortunately, the simplicity of meditation is more complex than the complexity of reading tarot:


To enquire “Who am I?” really means trying to find out the source of the ego or the “I”-thought. You are not to think of other thoughts, such as “I am not this body.” Seeking the source of “I” serves as a means of getting rid of all other thoughts. We should not give scope to other thoughts… but must keep the attention fixed on finding out the source of the “I”-thought by asking, as each thought arises, to whom the thought arises. If the answer is “I get the thought,” continue the enquiry by asking “Who is this ‘I’ and what is its source?”


Each tarot card answers “Who am I” in a different way. Each card shows something different in myself. At any moment, I embody every card. When I pull a card with no question in mind but “Who am I?” the answer is always, “You are this.” Then I find the part of me that the card speaks of and how I currently embody that aspect.


I pulled the Strength card and thus ask, “How am I Strength?” I see that I embody many aspects of strength in its positive attitude. Although often I am uncertain of what I am doing, confidence in my self and my world-view gives me strength. I admit I pulled the card upside-down, and seek meaning there. It tells me to watch for self-doubt and lack of faith. These are things that weaken me.

you are strong: be strong be strong