Understanding Tarot: Strength

Tarot card art from the Rider-Waite Smith Tarot Deck
This article is written by Tarot Reader, Claire Chilvers. You can find out more about her insights and readings at @ClaireChilversTarot

Strength: The infinite message of fortitude

The Strength card is numbered eight in the tarot. An eight in the tarot is a message of empowerment. This card is portrayed with a calm and serene woman who has managed to tame the lion single-handledly in this picture.

This card is often viewed so positively within the Tarot (it is hard not to with the bright yellow background and the reassuring name of Strength). It is ruled by the fiery sign of Leo, who, in turn, is ruled by the Sun. The Sun being a positive energy for us all and shining all around this card.

As I have mentioned before, all Tarot cards are neutral – with positive and negative aspects within them. But when Strength turns up in a reading, readers often draw on the incredible positivity of this card. After all, it is a sign from the Universe that we have Strength on our side, or within us, which is a great thing to know.

It can almost feel like the Universe is cheering us on from the sidelines as we are facing a challenge in our life.

And there, of course, is the negative aspect – the timing of this card usually conincides with adverse circumstances or when a reminder is much needed that Strength is present. Yes, this card needs to be bright and positive, because it is usually there to accompany us on some very dark days indeed.

Let us remind ourselves of our Tarot Fool, as he is continuing on his journey through his life’s path.

He has met his five mentors and over the last few cards, he has progressed through his given life lessons, which help him grow towards maturity.

He has had some choices to make with The Lovers, then the chaotic, challenging and courageous journey he embarked on with The Chariot, off to goodness knows where!

He must feel exhausted as he comes to rest at the Strength card – but, is immediately thrown into the incoming path of a lion! If he felt a little out of his depth in the last two cards, this will certainly be a test of his fortitude.

It seems that our Fool is having to learn his lessons the hard way, something that may resonate with us in our lives at the moment.

The lady on this card, who signifies the very essence of fortitude, is certainly a good lesson for The Fool and us too.

She is not trying to control the lion out of force, and she seems so calm and good-natured that the lion has co-operated with her willingly.

This kind of strength isn’t the brute force kind, it is the one that comes from within.

She has mastered control of her own mind and body, and therefore the external world follows suit. 

But, haven’t we heard that message before?


Right at the very start of The Fool’s Journey, The Magician gave that very message: ‘As above, so below’ which is the idea that we have the power to manifest our dreams.

If you notice, this card has many symbolic similarities to The Magician who first inspired us to create our dreams into reality; the flowers that were grown around his table are now adorned by this lady; the bright yellow, positivity of the card; the red cloak of The Magician is echoed in the lion’s coat and, of course, they are the only two characters in the whole pack who have the infinity sign hovering over their heads.

The infinity sign is actually featured in one other card within the Tarot, and it is not a Major Arcana card. It is, in fact, the Two of Pentacles.

If you are familiar with this card, you will see a man struggling to juggle two pentacles, it seems as if he is facing difficulties and challenges as he tries to make ends meet. There are two ships bobbing up and down on a rocky sea behind him, and he can barely take his mind or eyes off the task at hand keeping the pentacles aloft.

However, a green line links the two pentacles, and this is the infinity sign too. Whether or not the man has noticed it we do not know, but, in a card where the key message is about trying to survive the day-to-day challenges of human life, the infinity sign can seem a little ineffectual for some.

When we struggle in our lives the Universe gives us the possibility to create new possibilities and give us strength.

It seems these three cards and their connection with the infinity sign are the perfect trio.

The Magician helps us to unlock our potential and our ideas and then (just life our Fool), we start on our life’s journey to fulfil it.

It isn’t always easy and there are times when we lose sight of our hopes and dreams – quite simply, life gets in the way! That is the “two of pentacles’ playing out in our world, and when we get to this stage, we have to be reminded why we started the journey in the first place and that we have more than enough ability, determination, and fortitude to see the journey to the end – even if it seems a long way in the distance.

For our beloved Fool, this is a wonderful time for him to learn about the virtue of fortitude that he has hidden within him, and to start using it to his advantage. It is another harsh lesson for him as he grows into a man.

And for us too, Strength is a reminder that no matter what is thrown at us, we do have the strength to handle it.

We may need to take this time to regroup and remind ourselves of our original ideas and what we wanted for ourselves. A time to re-set our intentions and to have the strength to make any changes necessary to get back on track.

It takes strength to admit you need help or rest, it takes strength to admit you are on the wrong path and want to change it, to maybe move house, start a business, leave a relationship, go back to university – or to finish that one thing that meant a lot to you that has fallen by the way side because life got in the way.

If the Strength card comes into your life, embrace the infinite possibilities it is showing you and don’t underestimate how well equipped you are to achieve them. That has been the Tarot’s message all along!

Read More:

Understanding Tarot: The Fool’s Journey

About the author

Claire Chilvers

Claire Chilvers is a writer and tarot reader and lives in Essex, UK. She offers tarot readings to clients in the UK and around the world via video calls (Skype usually), if you would like a reading please contact her at clairechilverstarot@yahoo.com.