Tarot: Symbolism of the Strength

Hermit’s view on Sive as the Strength

Trump 8 in the Revenant Tarot deck.
Trump 8 in the Revenant Tarot deck.

It takes a special kind of person to turn great fear into great courage. Sive Ravenwood, a berserker with a lion’s spirit, is one of those people. The Strength is all about combining abilities to overcome weakness, and that is something Sive does very well. She, unlike her father or either of her brothers, recognizes when she needs help, and isn’t afraid to ask for it – a feat that sometimes does require a vast amount of courage.

Like in the Rider-Waite deck, the main figures are a young woman and a lion, with the woman being more of the “owner” of the scene, and dressed in the white gown that almost always represents purity of spirit. The fact that Strength is represented by someone who is fairly delicate of body and so pure of soul suggests that this card is not about physical power, although there is some of that, too. In the Rider-Waite card, the woman is closing the lion’s mouth to tame it, but in the Revenant card, Sive is simply patting the animal’s nose, and combing its mane. Not only has she tamed the lion – as evidenced by the green collar around his neck – she has befriended him, and he looks at the viewer, as if ready to protect Sive from some unseen threat. This is how the two of them come together to overcome each others’ weaknesses. The lion is much stronger than Sive is, but Sive has the awareness to be able to direct the lion’s strength toward helpful measures, instead of destructive ones.

The lion in both the Revenant and Rider-Waite cards is a symbol of the inner animal desires and passions that everyone has. In the Revenant version of Strength, the lion is dark brown, almost black. He represents those aspects of the shadow self, that which many people tend not to acknowledge. He wears a green collar with a metal infinity symbol hanging from the front. The infinity sign is a symbol of the power of thought, with has tamed the beast. It is a reminder that we, because of our capacity for complex thought, have the power to change seemingly unchangeable ways, endure pain, and stay undaunted by fear. This is echoed in Sive’s character: being a berserker, pain and fear actually push her to accomplish great feats, mostly physically, but she does possess the power to change, and so do we. There’s a little berserker in all of us. Both Sive and the lion wear green, which represents a connection to nature, as well as fertility, health, wealth, and compassion. It’s a reminder that sometimes being kind is harder than being cruel.

The zodiac sign for this card is obvious. It’s Leo, the lion. Leos are difficult to miss, as they almost always want to be center stage, which takes a certain strength of heart to be able to do. Leos are ambitious, creative, warm, and enthusiastic. They are loyal, and have a sense of honor, just like the lion in the Strength. He is loyal to Sive, and her warmth and kindness keep him so. Leo is ruled by the sun, so in this case, Sive is the sun to this lion. Leos are, generally, born leaders, and that takes not just strength, but compassion, courage, and wisdom. They are steadfast friends, which is another meaning of this card.

The rune on this card is Uruz, the rune of deep-fire. It is both strength and healing. It is the fiery core of the sun, and the flow of magma beneath the earth. One of its lessons is that it takes warmth to melt a stone, just as it takes kindness to accept one’s own shadow-self. It is a grounding rune, one that adds strength and stability, like that of a mountain. It is the bind of the strongest friendships, and grants courage to the soul, which is something that Sive possesses in spades, and usually what is needed when one draws the Strength card.

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