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Greater Arcana Study Group—Strength

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Abrac  Abrac is offline
Join Date: 13 Aug 2005
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Greater Arcana Study Group—Strength

A woman, over whose head there broods the same symbol of life which we have seen in the card of the Magician, is closing the jaws of a lion. The only point in which this design differs from the conventional presentations is that her beneficent fortitude has already subdued the lion, which is being led by a chain of flowers. For reasons which satisfy myself, this card has been interchanged with that of Justice, which is usually numbered eight. As the variation carries nothing with it which will signify to the reader, there is no cause for explanation. Fortitude, in one of its most exalted aspects, is connected with the Divine Mystery of Union; the virtue, of course, operates in all planes, and hence draws on all in its symbolism. It connects also with innocentia inviolata [uncorrupted innocence], and with the strength which resides in contemplation.

These higher meanings are, however, matters of inference, and I do not suggest that they are transparent on the surface of the card. They are intimated in a concealed manner by the chain of flowers, which signifies, among many other things, the sweet yoke and the light burden of Divine Law, when it has been taken into the heart of hearts. The card has nothing to do with self-confidence in the ordinary sense, though this has been suggested—but it concerns the confidence of those whose strength is God, who have found their refuge in Him. There is one aspect in which the lion signifies the passions, and she who is called Strength is the higher nature in its liberation. It has walked upon the asp and the basilisk and has trodden down the lion and the dragon.
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Abrac  Abrac is offline
Join Date: 13 Aug 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 4,466

This card and the Lovers have conspicuous mountains. They’re not mountain ranges but one lone mountain. In Waite’s Secret Tradition in Freemasonry, there’s a picture which has the following caption: “Beneath the belt are the four other planets of ancient lore, the sun immersed in the sea, and Mercury presiding over a mountain which I take to be that of initiation.”


Waite’s Pictorial Symbols of Alchemy has a picture of a similar mountain with a caption that reads: “The next picture is intended to set forth this vision, when the soul and spirit are seen on the high mountain of initiation. . .”

Mountain 2

The description goes on to say:

“That which is expressed, however, as a result of the vision is that the soul remembers the body—spoken of here as the father—and longs to return thereto, to which the Spirit Guide consents, and they descend from that high eminence. Two things are illustrated hereby—(1) that the soul in its progress during incarnate life has the body to save and to change, so that all things may be holy; but (2) that it is possible—as is nearly always the case in parables of this kind—to offer a dual interpretation, and the alternative to that which I have given would be an allegory of return to the House of the Father in an entirely different sense. But it is obvious that I cannot speak of it—at least, in the present place.”

I’m not concerned with number 2, seeing as Waite doesn’t explain what it is, but number 1 and that which precedes it—that is, the soul’s return to the body. I can see in in the Lovers the soul beginning its journey up the mountain of initiation, with the help of the Guide (angel). This card seems like it could be the soul after its return from the mountain top; the raging lion (body) has been brought under control by the soul, or “higher nature” as Waite puts it.

In this card Waite calls the lemniscate a symbol of life but in the Magician he calls it a sign of the Holy Spirit. I tend to believe in both cases it represents Divinity.
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Teheuti  Teheuti is offline
Join Date: 24 Aug 2003
Location: Northern California
Posts: 5,539

Originally Posted by Abrac View Post
In this card Waite calls the lemniscate a symbol of life but in the Magician he calls it a sign of the Holy Spirit. I tend to believe in both cases it represents Divinity.
Waite calls the lemniscate an “Eternity of attainment in the spirit.” PKT.

The lemniscate describes the path of planets when they appear to circle the earth along the ecleptic. This figure, from above, appears as an open circle but, from the side, as two loops. It signifies the two in one or the continuity between dualities. It can also be seen in what’s called an analemma, the North/South declination of the sun shown by its incremental daily movement at the same hour through each day of the year.

Photos of the sun at the same time throughout the year:

Strength forms the octave of the Magician and shares with the Magician the symbols of the lemniscate and red roses.
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