Go Get It: Passion/Strength/Lust
Crowley did a lot for tarot. The Thoth deck is a work of unsurpassed beauty in my opinion. No other deck combines the symbolic nuance with the artistic mastery in the same way. It is also controversial and causes problems at times. Crowley had very definite ideas that he projected onto the cards, ideas that related to his understanding of Qabalah and the occult. Crowley believed that Strength/Passion/Lust belongs in 11-Trumps. Other decks place Strength in the 8-Trumps. This makes the numerology of it problematic but not impossible. But lets not start with that.
The Rider-Waite deck depicts an angelic creature petting a lion. She is not worried about the lion biting her hand off. They are sympatico. There is an infinity sign floating like a halo over her head. She has reached the type of enlightenment that allows her to communicate with this beast, like St. Francis of Assissi who believed that nature itself was a mirror of God. The message of the Rider-Waite Strength card is that of unity with and eternity in the divine. I can see why Crowley found this to be reflective of the meaning of the master number 11 which is the interval of the step to reaching god. There is also an intuitive aspect to this because nonverbal communications with other beings and with the divine occur at the level of intuition.
The 8-Trumps has an older view of the relationship between man and nature (or the soul and the body). The eight asks for the a type of benevolent domination by man over beast. While there is a magnanimity toward the lion depicted, it is not considered equal. However, there is within the 8 the joining of spiritual and material forces toward a common aim. Even the spirituality of 8 is a pragmatic one, but this can also be seen as one who looks for the spirit in earthly things like nature. I don’t think that the Strength card loses meaning in the 8 position, its meaning is merely exalted at 11.
The zodiacal positioning of Leo echoes the fiery nature of Strength. The goal of the card is to align the divine nature, with one’s will and spirit with (either as an 8 or 11). This is not a “base” thing but one that realizes that physical being and divine being are parts of what make humans whole. This card also contains beauty. In Crowley’s version, it is the image of a naked woman. In Rider-Waite there is a garland of flowers. The end result of passion is a deeper connection to life and one that is enhanced by aesthetics (the same with lust, thanks Iggy Pop!)
If we consider the journey of the tarot as the raising up of the feminine, as in the Qabalah, the 11 occurs when she is seen as an equal. The two of disks (all twos, really) echo in this card. Thoth exalts that feminine in a way that doesn’t exist with Justice/Adjustment, the card that Crowley ousted, in that position. The positioning of the strength at 8, after the Chariot downplays this. I don’t think either way is more right, it’s just a matter of degrees and intensity.
The downside of Strength might be that you are becoming too controlling of a situation. This is a card that lives or dies in balance–the ability to give up just enough control to enable a precision that you cannot achieve by forcing it. If I were to rename the card it would be “Flow,” the marriage of mastery and intuition and that’s one way I see it when it appears in a reading. Ill-dignified, it could mean that you are giving in too much, holding on too hard or your will is coming into conflict with the desires of another.
Am I letting myself go enough in this situation?
Am I listening to my intuition?
In general, am I listening enough?
Am I being distracted by cravings and desires? Am I mistaking them for intuition?
What else can I do to immerse myself in the moment?