11 – Strength

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Please note that this series of interpretations is intended to assist specifically in personal healing and shadow work. There are many incredible websites that offer traditional meanings and correspondences. 

When you think of the word “strength,” what comes to mind? Is it a grandmother who fed and clothed her family through the depression? Is it a child who is overcoming unimaginable challenges? Is it someone who displays traditional physical strength? In the tarot, the Strength card reflects a deep level of emotional mastery.

In many decks, the Strength card depicts a woman gently closing a lion’s mouth. This reminds us that true strength can be gently harnessed and effectively expressed with loving care. While we often think of lions as ferocious, and they certainly are, there is quiet, deeper energy at work in these magnificent animals that is worth remembering when this card comes up. Where in the Chariot, we saw a need to outwardly take charge, Strength asks us to use the power within us in a patient, composed way. Emotional intelligence is demonstrated in the ability to feel intensely passionate while having the capacity to express ourselves in a focused and articulate way. For many of us this is no easy task but quietly influencing others is a powerful tool!

This card is a valuable lesson for those of us delving into our shadows. It may be helpful to make a list of situations where you have found your emotions getting the best of you. When was the last time you really lost it?  Does this tend to happen with certain people in your life or is it seemingly random? What are the topics that really get your blood boiling? Often the root of our outburst comes from somewhere deeper within–an emotional injury that has been left unhealed. The raw emotion that you feel can be helpful if wielded correctly. Many memorable humanitarians mastered this skill and changed history.

In shadow work, we discover that often our intense reactions to someone’s behavior or comments stems from shame we carry about our own thoughts or actions from the past. This is one of the most challenging and bitter pills to swallow but it is profoundly freeing and lends itself to lasting personal growth. It certainly takes strength to face this side of ourselves but it is integral to self-love and our own spiritual evolution. What does your lion look like?

“The lion who breaks the enemy’s ranks is a minor hero compared to the lion who overcomes himself.”

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Until our paths cross again…

10 – The Wheel of Fortune

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Please note that this series of interpretations is intended to assist specifically in personal healing and shadow work. There are many incredible websites that offer traditional meanings and correspondences. 

Charles Darwin believed that it would not be the strongest species that would survive, but the one most adaptable to change. We humans are not known for this trait, although some of the more enlightened of us have embraced it entirely.

The Wheel of Fortune reminds us that change is indeed constant. Everything in our life works in cycles from the seasons, our relationships with others, and our own aging and mortality.  In witchcraft, many of us honor and celebrate all stages of life: the maiden, the mother, and the crone. We believe that all stages are equally important to our self-actualization. This is important to keep in mind when our personal “seasons” are experiencing turmoil. It is at this point when we are likely depleted of the capacity to recall that Spring will follow Winter as it always does. The beauty of it is that life is rich because of the contrast. Despite our resistance to challenges, without them, we would lose sight of the times that deserve our deepest gratitude.

While the Wheel of Fortune often suggests an upswing of luck and a positive turn in our current situation, I feel it is helpful to consider both sides of the wheel in regards to our healing. There are times when we feel on top of the wheel and there are times when we will feel flattened by it. If we can find a way to make peace with the low swing of the wheel and embrace when the wheel is at its highest we learn to thrive regardless of external circumstances. It is not only important to remember that things will get better, but it is also helpful to be prepared that the good times are not infinite–but the universe has got you–let go and trust.

The Wheel of Fortune is also a karmic reminder that the way we conduct ourselves will have consequences. In this way, if we focus on sending out that which we hope to receive, we will be far more successful. What is it you want most of all? What has been preventing this from happening? Where are your blocks? Often we are the ones sabotaging our own success without realizing it. In your heart, have you accepted just how worthy you are of all of the delights that await the upturn of the wheel? If not, are you being too critical or do you need to rethink the energy you are putting out?

Whatever the reason that the message of this card has shown up in your life, it is a reminder that things are changing whether you wish them to or not. If you can learn to surrender to this you can find an internal peace that takes many of us a lifetime if we are lucky to find it at all. It might be helpful to journal about ways you have managed life changes in the past. I would also invite you to recall something in your life that was completely out of your control and intensely challenging. After some time had passed and healing had begun its gentle embrace, were you able to extract the lesson? Most challenging times, no matter how heartbreaking, will hold valuable information for us about ourselves and our response to the world.

You are loved, supported, and deserving. Be open to those who want to help when you need it and offer help to others when you can. It will all come full circle in the end. Trust.

“I don’t know how much we will rise,” I say stoutly. “And I have no fear of falling.
He looks at me. “You are ambitious to rise?”
“We are all on fortune’s wheel,” I say. “Without a doubt we will rise. We may fall. But still I have no fear of it.”
― Philippa Gregor

Until our paths cross again…

09 – The Hermit

09 - The Hermit

Please note that this series of interpretations is intended to assist specifically in personal healing and shadow work. There are many incredible websites that offer traditional meanings and correspondences. 

When was the last time you spent a decent amount of time alone–really alone?

The Hermit suggests a time of quiet introspection and a chance to build our self-awareness, humility, and insight. We all have an inner light to share but with the pace of life and focus on speed and efficiency, it is easy to lose sight of it. This card asks us to reconnect in a meaningful way, to turn inward and examine those parts of ourselves that may get left behind. For those of us who could spend limitless time alone, this suggestion would be a welcome one. For the more social creatures among us, the work in this card may be more challenging.

In a society where we are being constantly bombarded by stimuli, silence can feel very foreign. Think of the last time the power went out–were you surprised by the silence and the realization of how much noise you live with? The same can be said about functioning in society and culture. We grow accustomed to the noise, and only through retreating from it can we truly experience reticence.

In many depictions of The Hermit, the figure is seen carrying a lantern which only illuminates the few steps ahead of them. We must investigate that which is closest to us before we can confidently move forward.

I invite you to schedule time for yourself where you are not only alone but unplugged from texts and social media (gasp). Although we rely heavily on it now, it wasn’t so long ago that those things didn’t exist and time alone truly meant time alone. Everyone is different, so some may find themselves tapping into their inner wisdom quickly and others may find that they need a week-long solitary break to get there. For many of us, finding this time is not an easy task so it may be helpful to start out small: dedicate a certain amount of time every day for meditation. If you are not familiar with meditation, try a guided meditation to get the hang of it. Alternately, walking meditation can be a powerful experience. The point is to allow yourself to draw completely inward and spend some uninterrupted time getting to know yourself. On our side of the planet, these dark, cooler months can be a wonderful time to do shadow work and internal maintenance. Perhaps you could write a letter to yourself, introducing yourself as you would to a stranger. Maybe you could fill a page with all of the words that bubble up inside of you when you hear the word silence. Take a look at these words–your insight may lie there.

“Silence is the universal refuge, the sequel to all dull discourses and all foolish acts, a balm to our every chagrin, as welcome after satiety as after disappointment; that background which the painter may not daub, be he master or bungler, and which, however awkward a figure we may have made in the foreground, remains ever our inviolable asylum, where no indignity can assail, no personality can disturb us.”
― Henry David Thoreau

Until our paths cross again…

08 – Justice

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Please note that this series of interpretations is intended to assist specifically in personal healing and shadow work. There are many incredible websites that offer traditional meanings and correspondences. 

If you are a proponent of the Rider-Waite-Smith system, you might have expected Strength to be in the eighth position. We will roll with the traditional order as it has been used by this deck, The Wild Unknown.

What does truth and Justice mean to you? The Justice card will have you examining this in your life in some way. The interesting thing about our own truth is that it is likely to change as we discover blind spots we didn’t know we had. In itself, this is one of the most effective ways we can grow as humans! It is exciting and can actually be quite freeing to realize that your perspective is limited and begin to approach differing viewpoints from yours from a curious place rather than an argumentative one (but this muscle can take a lot of work). We have so much to learn from each other!

The interesting thing about the Justice card is that it often refers to a more karmic, Lord of the Flies, kind of integrity, rather than the man-made law we are familiar with. One of the more memorable references to this is visited in Kim Huggens’ book, Tarot 101. She shares a story about King Solomon and a dispute he resolved between two women who both claimed to be the biological mothers of an infant. These women both presented their arguments–claiming to love the child more than anything,–and both were equally convincing, so Solomon presented a solution: they would cut the baby in two and each woman would receive one half. At this point, one woman threw herself before the King and insisted that the other woman have the child rather than allowing any harm come to him (inadvertently proving that she was the true mother). Although this is a harsh example, it is certainly unforgettable!

In this way, the Justice card may ask you to examine how karmic law would observe the way you conduct yourself in your daily life. We can all use tune-ups sometimes! More specifically, how do you make decisions when no one is looking? Are you kind to those who are the most difficult to show compassion to? Even if you do not subscribe to the spiritual beliefs surrounding karma, if you are kind in your dealings, when the time comes that you need gentleness, it will be there.

Fairness is in the eye of the beholder. What does fairness mean to you? I invite you to journal about the word “fairness” and “justice.” What is your initial response to these terms? Is there a time in your life where you feel that you were treated unjustly? How did that affect you long-term? Can you bring to mind a time when you treated someone unfairly and could have handled things differently?

This card is all about balance. We do not always present our best selves in decision-making, but through intermittent evaluation and self-examination, we can consistently improve. If we know we have been operating at a lower integrity level than we are capable of we can change the channel. That is often when we do our best spiritual work.

“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

Until our paths cross again…