Meditations on Tarot Key 8, Strength
Tarot key 8 features a red lion, an ancient and alchemical symbol of our ripened and bridled instincts. There is a form of strength that is a positive balance between destructive and creative forces, both under our conscious control. Yet, this is not about passivity.
Some traditions hold that the height of spirituality to remain passive; this cannot be further from the truth. In fact, by remaining passive in the face of change, you could be seduced into believing that your inaction is synonymous with taking the higher ground. Gandhi used what he called first called passive resistance (then, satyagraha) to protest, in a nonviolent way, the unfair laws and policies that were keeping his people trapped by the British government. True passivity is merely a form of inaction and complacency.
The true key to strength is in balancing the seemingly opposing forces represented by the spheres of Chesed, Mercy, and Geburah, Severity. To err on the side of severity without the mitigating energy of mercy is just as dangerous as to practice mercy without the equilibrating forces of severity. We have grown up in a society that has trouble seeing the difference. Either you make (literal or figurative) war on your enemy without being merciful or you are asked to forgive everything without standing up for what is fair to both sides.
To possess true strength of will and character is to fight in the right way, tempering aggression with an appropriate level of softness and compassion. Love is the unwavering commitment to your connection and guidance from the higher realms, from the Divine from which Unconditional Love flows to us constantly. We are the ones blocking that Divine Love with ego-base conditions of our own making. On the Tarot card, this is represented by the garland of roses that is being used to subdue the lion. The garland bridles and informs the baser instincts with willingness to use our love and higher intellect to discern right from wrong in the dualistic sense. This is the love that surpasses human understanding; we are asked to find the strength within to not react with aggression.
We are wired to imagine things we love, but often fall back on the instinctual nature when hostility meets with its like. To react differently is true wisdom, true strength. The “green lion” is ever lurking in the back of our instinctive mind, ready to react with its full force to what it perceives as attack. By reacting in this way, we “feed the green lion.”
As spiritual aspirants, we are tasked to tame the carnal desires that are holding us back. It is by achieving balance that we embody these opposing forces as a form of the Divine tension. Once accomplished, the yellow lion, which represents the total realization of conscious awareness that allows Divine Will to descend into our active forces, informing our every thought and action.