approach your fear with patience and tolerance
Strength carries forward the lesson of the Chariot’s efforts to control our impulses as we head into line 2, which takes us through tests of spirit and surrender — but here, it’s through inner strength and confidence. We learn to conquer fear not by force, but by listening to our animal nature (symbolized by the lion) and working with it, not against it. It is through approaching our fear with an undefended heart that true strength is experienced. Though the process may be dark and ugly, the appearance of this card may prompt us to examine the integration of opposites or of parts that we had been working on in Line 1, leading to wholeness.
(-) In resistance, we allow fear and timidity to take over, and we turn away rather than face our fears, continuing the loops our brain gets into because we’re afraid to confront it. We often think of Strength’s shadow as overbearing force (we’ve all seen the cards showing defeat of the lion through brute force), which speaks to the more aggressive and egoic aspects of the shadow; but consider here the denial of your subconscious — or even the lion as an exiled part. We aim for integration, but fear in the face of this integration can lead to stifling these needs and desires in self-denial, to flight reflexes that hinder rather than facilitate contact with the subconscious. Keeping our heart carefully shielded, we may then fall into overprotectiveness.
(+) In excess, we display aggression in an abuse of power, perhaps overcompensating for perceived weakness or overestimating our abilities. From a place of ego rather than heart, and in the opposite of the flight reflex we saw in resistance, we fight.
Questions we may be prompted to ask when this card appears include
- where are you being called to show courage?
- What fear prevents you from acting? What internal part is it protecting?
- What parts have been subdued into exile which may be better understood and integrated with a compassionate approach?
- How do your protector parts tend to react when exiled parts are threatened?
- Are you struggling with a challenge that may be overcome with understanding rather than force?
What else? The archetypes of the majors are complex and you may have other insights. How has this card come up for you? What are some examples of this card’s energies?