Strength Tarot Card Meaning
Keywords: Strength – Compassion – Force
A maiden gently opens the mouth of a lion. Her white robes represent purity of intent. Above her head is a lemniscate, also known as an infinity symbol, representing persistence of effort. Her garland crown and the mountains behind her symbolize victory and achievement. She represents our non-reactive, evolved self. The lion below her represents our subconscious, aggressive, and reactive self. The normally aggressive lion submits to her calm touch. She is the part of us that contains the self-awareness to react with kindness rather than lashing out in anger. The Strength card is typically the eighth card of the Major Arcana, but it can also be numbered 11 (switching places with the Justice card). This is a card of using finesse versus brute force. A soft approach and compassionate heart overcome an obstacle.
Upright Meanings for the Strength Tarot Card
The Strength card most often represents, you guessed it, strength. It can indicate many kinds of strength: emotional, spiritual, and occasionally physical. But most often, this card indicates courage and gentle determination. Whenever it shows up, it’s a sign to persevere. You are stronger and more resourceful than you imagine. Keep going.
This card can represent approaching a situation from a place of compassion rather than reactivity. This applies to both conflicts with others and how you treat yourself. In the Strength card, the maiden represents the enlightened self. She’s the evolved, pre-frontal cortex of our brains that allows us to think and feel before our primitive lizard brain takes over. The Strength card’s appearance in a reading can indicate a need for understanding. Use your heart and a gentle touch to resolve the problem. Don’t be hard on yourself either. Treat yourself with the same compassion and kindness that you would extend to a good friend.
You can also find this card in readings related to self-mastery. It can be an indicator to get your aggressive impulses under control. Cultivate self-awareness and calm. This would be a time to meditate, journal, and exercise to help you better process difficult emotions. The results of these healthy habits will lend strength and fortitude to all your endeavors.
Historically, this card was called Force. The Rider-Waite-Smith tarot shows the young maiden gently opening the mouth of the lion. In other historical depictions, it’s ambiguous whether she’s prying it open. Depending on the deck you’re using, this gives the card a more nuanced meaning that suggests some effort will be needed to resolve the issue.
Love and Relationships
The Strength card can indicate a dynamic where one partner is supporting the other through difficult emotions. It can represent a relationship where one learns to trust again. The Strength card almost always suggests compassion as a cornerstone to resolving conflicts. Try to undercover the heart of an issue.
Sometimes, this can be a card of snagging and taming a bad boy/bad girl! Of course, it’s been long debated whether these folks can really be tamed. Still, you can sometimes find the Strength card representing those types of relationships.
When it comes to finding love or new friendships, Strength urges you to persist in your search. Do not lose hope. Keep putting yourself out there!
Career and Work
This work or workplace may push you to expand your emotional intelligence and patience. There could be difficult personalities in the mix that require you to be careful how you give feedback or instructions.
The Strength card can also represent work related to compassion and listening skills. Examples include medical professionals, counselors, healers, mediators, and customer service. It can also indicate nonprofit work related to animal welfare or challenging populations.
In workplace conflicts, this is a clear message that a compassionate response is needed. Use a gentle hand to guide your team. If you’re dealing with influencing someone, be subtle in your approach. If you need to give feedback, be kind about it.
People and Personalities
People represented by the Strength card are strong, caring, compassionate, and tolerant. They are excellent friends and partners. These folks make great listeners and can be trusted to provide thoughtful advice.
Because Strength is the card of the astrological sign Leo, it can represent a person born approximately July 24th – August 23rd.
Strength Reversed Tarot Card Meaning
Fear – Weakness – Aggression
Reversed Meanings for the Strength Tarot Card
The Strength card reversed indicates that you are avoiding an issue. Resist the urge to run away from a difficult situation. Summon your courage and face the problem head-on. The longer you let this loom over you, the bigger and more ferocious the “lion” grows. While fear is a protective mechanism in dangerous situations, you can not let it rule your life. This is especially true when you’re making big changes to your life such as career moves or ending toxic relationships. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
Also, watch out for others trying to keep you feeling small. Examine the intimate relationships around you: are there some that are holding you back? You may find yourself having to take a hard stand for fair treatment and boundaries.
This card reversed can also indicate weakness. This doesn’t mean weakness of character. Rather, it often points to the cumulative effects of stress on the mind and body. You could be feeling beaten down by everything. It can signal burn out in a reading. Remember, don’t be hard on yourself. It’s important to take time for healthy self-care and recovery from difficult events. Take time to heal (resist wallowing though) so that you can summon the strength to get back up. Extend compassion to yourself that this will take some serious effort at first. Allow others to help you. If this is perceived weakness stemming from a lack of self-esteem and self-confidence, know that you are worthy to live a happy and healthy life.
Reversed tarot cards can also represent the excessive energy of a card. In the case of Strength, it could suggest an approach that’s way too aggressive. The Strength card represents a measured, gentle resolution to a conflict. Take a step back and see if you’re coming at this from a place of fear or anger. Forcing the issue with someone else isn’t going to move you forward.
Reversed Love and Relationships
The Strength card reversed in a relationship reading can indicate issues around fear or aggression. It’s a warning sign to deal with any lingering issues from past events that may be influencing the relationship. Open up a calm, judgment-free line of communication to talk through your fears. Be on the lookout for issues around codependency as well. Either you or your partner (and friends too) may be relying on the other too much for support. Depending on who this represents in a reading, start getting comfortable being on your own more.
Sometimes it can indicate an element of aggression in the relationship’s dynamics. Of course, if there’s physical abuse or the threat of, get out. If you are the one having trouble keeping your cool, seek outside help. Sadly, we don’t get a manual handed to us on how to deal with difficult emotions. This is made worse if we were witnessed to them in our childhood. Breaking the cycle of abuse is difficult, but absolutely can be achieved. Talking to a professional about this is important.
The Strength card reversed can also indicate that a conflict was mishandled. Maybe you were too direct or even too passive. If possible, try to have a do-over. Coming out and acknowledging you may have misspoke, or approached it in the heat of the moment, could be enough to clear the air. If that’s not possible, use this situation as a lesson learned.
Reversed Career and Work
In work-related situations, this card often relates to dealing with conflict. Sometimes the lion can indicate an abstract problem or a project. But, often, you’ll see it relating to people. Its presence can indicate an issue that was handled poorly. Often when this card is reversed, it indicates that a direct approach should be taken. That’s not to say that you won’t be tapping into the Strength’s gentleness, but don’t beat around the bush. In the extreme, it can represent the ill effects of harsh approaches to work issues.
This card also appears when you are running out of patience regarding a work or career issue. You may have no control over how disputes are handled. This card shows up a lot too for workplaces that are short-staffed and underfunded. The result is a weariness of that makes it hard to bring your best self to work. It can be demoralizing too. You can find both responses to this style of management: apathy and aggression. This doesn’t foster a healthy work environment for anyone. If you are in a position of power, use the positive aspects of the Strength card to uncover and deal with these issues. If you don’t have recourse in this situation, you may need to start looking for a way to cope -or a way to leave.
Reversed People and Personalities
The Strength card reversed can indicate individuals who are passive or unable to show up for you. For the latter, there can be very legitimate reasons for this: they might be stressed, ill, or just too preoccupied with their own struggles. Often these are temporary situations. If the relationship with this person is perpetually one-sided, you may need to gently let them know you need support as well. At worst, it could indicate a toxic relationship that you need to distance yourself from.
Conversely, you might find individuals represented by this card too direct or aggressive. Not everyone has the experience and awareness to deliver feedback with a soft touch. Also, some folks are thick skinned and aren’t bothered by things like chiding-banter or blunt call-outs. If it represents you in a reading, be aware if your manner of approaching others is causing rifts. Do you miss opportunities from failing to show up when your friends need you? Do you hurt people’s feelings with too many “jokes” that are interpreted as attacks? Be aware of how you’re coming across when others are being vulnerable with you.
Numerology: 8 or 11 (in some decks)
I have the strength to overcome any obstacle.
Some of My Favorite Examples
The illustrator Egan of the Delta Enduring Tarot shows the Strength card as a trans woman ignoring protesters (evoking a bit of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church) outside of her home. This imagery speaks to the resiliency the Strength card represents. While the figure cheerfully tunes out the hate just beyond her door… let’s be real, it’s easier said than done. We all have burdens to bear, some more than others. The Strength card urges us to carry on in the face of fear. It also suggests a boundary is needed. The protesters remain outside while she gathers strength from within. Protect your joy as you bravely show up and persist.
In The Moonchild Tarot, a yogi, Phyllicia Bonanmo, sits beside a powerful lion indicating that they are in equal strength and at peace in each other’s presence. This suggests that the two halves of the self, the higher and lower, are united. Between them are delicate butterflies symbolizing the gentle approach often required for the Strength card. Her hands are in the Gyan mudra pose: a sacred gesture connected to knowledge, peace, and calm. Some yogis describe this as a pose that helps connect oneself to a higher power.
The Mystic Mondays tarot uses a striking white tiger as a stand-in for the Strength card. This is another creative way to convey the power of this card. Most of the time in a reading, the querrent is the maiden figure in the Strength card. This subverts the image of a gentle young maiden taming the savage beast. Instead, the querent’s best course of action could be to integrate into themselves the strength, ferocity, grace, and wildness of the tiger.
The Ethereal Tarot uses traditional Waite-Smith motifs for the tarot card. I’m including it on my list of favorites because, well, it’s a beautiful card! I’m a sucker for anything Art Nouveau too. It incorporates the lemniscate symbol, a flower-crowned maiden, and the king of the jungle. In this depiction, I think the maiden’s half-smirk is intriguing. And doesn’t the lion look a little annoyed he’s been conquered?
Other Notes on the Strength Card: 8 or 11?
As mentioned earlier, Strength is usually the eighth card in the Major Arcana. You can sometimes find it switched with the Justice card, usually numbered eleven. I’ve heard a few explanations for this. Arthur Waite, who co-created the modern Rider-Waite-Smith tarot with Pamela Coleman-Smith, wanted the Strength card to precede the Hermit. Because he associated the Strength card with the astrological sign Leo, it made sense to have it appear before the Hermit which represents Virgo. This way the Major Arcana moves through the zodiac in order. In older tarot decks, such as the Marseilles tarot, you’ll find Justice as the eighth card and Strength as the eleventh.
Generally speaking, in the United States and the UK, you’ll find most decks are heavily influenced by the Waite-Smith tarot and usually follow its numbering conventions. Everywhere else, you’ll typically find a numbering system that corresponds to Marseille and historical decks that pre-date Rider-Waite-Smith. There are always exceptions of course! The popular Wild Unknown Tarot numbers its Strength card as 11. At the end of the day, there’s no right or wrong for this preference.