In the past, it was actually titled Fortitude, and considered to be part of a loose triumvirate with the virtues of Temperance and Justice.
- Keywords: Fortitude, strength, courage, control
- Keywords (Reversed): Self-doubt, self-sabotage, feelings of inadequacy
- Yes or No: Yes
- Yes or No (Reversed): Maybe
- Element: Fire
- Zodiac Sign: Leo
In Rider-Waite-Smith-inspired decks, the symbolism of the Strength card is pretty consistent. Historically, it was depicted as either a figure holding up a broken pillar or subduing a lion. Over time, the lion imagery prevailed.
In Pamela Colman Smith’s artwork, Strength is represented as a white-gowned woman holding a lion’s jaws. In the background, there are mountains and trees. She’s wearing a garland of roses, and her head is crowned with an infinity symbol.
Surprisingly, controlling the lion seems to take very little effort — her posture is relaxed, her arms aren’t flexed, and her expression is calm. Even her hands seem to be gentle.
It speaks to a quiet strength, not a show of brute force. This meshes more with the card’s original name, Fortitude. The woman is courageous in the face of the lion, and her ability to face her fear allows her to control it.
The infinity symbol is said to represent enlightenment and spiritual transcendence. The lion, on the other hand, represents man’s animal nature — hunger, lust, and earthly desires and cravings. The woman has the mental, emotional, and spiritual fortitude to overcome these desires within herself, granting her complete control over her existence.
Strength Meaning (Upright)
Strength and The Chariot are similar, in the sense that both signify overcoming challenges. The primary difference is in where those challenges lie. The Chariot shows a figure pulled by opposing external forces, while Strength is entirely about the central figure’s inner fortitude.
When the Strength card appears upright, it symbolizes overcoming inner obstacles. You are mastering your emotions, and gaining control over your fears, prejudices, and desires. You are showing or developing an emotional resilience to stressful situations and remain composed in the face of danger. It’s all about triumphing over the self.
Strength Meaning (Reversed)
When Strength is reversed, the roles are reversed. Rather than exhibiting an inner fortitude, you are experiencing intense feelings of anger, fear, self-doubt, or desire. These might even be strong enough to make you lose your head at times, or even seem to take the fun out of life.
The secret here is that the central figure of the Strength card is just as strong no matter how she presents herself. Even when she’s reversed, she has the potential to turn things around and gain control over what’s bothering her. You can do the same. You have the inner fortitude necessary to show that lion who’s boss.
See also: Check out alternate Tarot decks here.
Strength Meaning – Love & Relationships (Upright)
In a love reading, Strength often represents the qualities you seek or find in a lover. It can be a signifier of someone with a Leo sun sign, or just someone who has a luxurious, lusty, leonine side. This person may be a bit of a “wild child,” and benefit from your fortitude to help ground them.
In a committed relationship, the appearance of the Strength card here shows a close, passionate partnership. Things may get heated at times, so it’s also a reminder that patience, gentleness, and self-control — not brute force — will be the best course of action.
Strength Meaning – Love & Relationships (Reversed)
When reversed in a love and relationship reading, Strength can indicate that you’ve given some of your power away to your partner (or your search for one).
Rather than taking control of your wants and desires, you’re allowing them to make you impulsive and short-sighted. This isn’t a good sign, no matter whether you’re single or paired up.
It can also be a sign of codependency. If you’re suffering from a lack of confidence, it can make you rely too heavily on your partner to “complete” you.
Remember, the woman in the Strength card is just as strong upside down as she is right side up. You have the inner qualities you need to be a composed, powerful, independent person; you just need to tap into them.
Strength Meaning – Careers, Business & Money (Upright)
In a career and business context, Strength means confidence. You have the motivation, drive, and skills you need to succeed, and it’s time to bring them all together.
Fear of failure is the only thing holding you back, so let it go. Get noticed at your current job. Leave it for a new career. Start your own business. The sky’s the limit here, as long as you can maintain your inner strength and composure.
In a money context, Strength advises against impulsive spending. If you’ve been a bit loose with your cash lately, now’s the time to tighten those purse strings. Any new investments or other money-making ventures should be thoroughly researched first.
Strength Meaning – Careers, Business & Money (Reversed)
When reversed, Strength shows a lack of confidence. Have you been getting passed up for promotions, or otherwise overlooked at work? The problem likely isn’t your performance — it’s your attitude.
This meaning is very similar to the meaning of Strength upright, but stronger. You have the skills, drive, and passion you need to get ahead; the only real problem is a lack of confidence. If Strength upright is encouragement, Strength reversed is a warning. Master your fears, or they will continue to drag you down.
When it comes to money, Strength suggests a feeling of insecurity. You might be having trouble curbing impulse purchases or loosening up enough to buy things you genuinely need.
Chances are, you have plenty of money at the moment — just be aware that that may not always be the case. Explore how to balance your spending in a sustainable way.
Strength: Yes or No?
Strength is a card of victory through inner power. It’s overcoming obstacles and standing firm armed with nothing more than your own fortitude. For a “Yes or No” reading, this card is a “Yes” — you have the inner reserves you need in order to obtain the outcome you desire. If you use them, you will succeed.
When reversed, Strength can still be a “Yes,” though this card is often a “Maybe.” This reversal is where self-doubt begins to creep in, and the central figure finds herself undermined by her own mentality. You can still potentially succeed here, but there are some extra obstacles that you’ll need to face.
The Strength card is a beautiful depiction of calm fortitude. The central figure isn’t a musclebound warrior — it’s a young woman in a white gown and flower garland.
This kind of strength is available to anyone, regardless of their size, age, or situation in life. When you’re able to master your inner conflicts, you can become unstoppable.
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