Tarot for Troubled Times: Strength
This week, I felt inspired to share with you one of my favorite cards (that lodestar for so many therapists!):
In Strength, we are presented with a delightful alchemy that combines the opened heart--filled with compassion, patience, kindness, and acceptance--with great courage, fortitude, and quiet determination.
The tender communion between the two beings pictured on this card portrays an inner relationship, in which we cultivate a compassionate stance towards ourselves.
Our cultural programming often encourages forceful self-control; we criticize, repress, and order ourselves around like tiny tyrants. However, we may learn that we get better results from soft control, gentle guidance, and tempering our self-discipline with benevolence.
In Strength, we are invited to gently, lovingly tame our inner beast. We turn to face our personal demons, examine our own dark sides, and engage in deep shadow work, opening to what we most deeply dislike in ourselves.
It takes momentous bravery to look with a soft, yet unflinching eye at our unrestrained impulses and instincts, and so this image is a true portrait of integrity and resolve.
Strength is the domain of distress tolerance and emotional regulation; of developing inner coping resources that help us endure when times are tough.
This is the face of equanimity and composure, dealing calmly with our frustrations by allowing them to exist, without letting them drive our actions.
If we are working on managing our alcohol use, this is the moment where we open to understanding our urges to drink, rather than judging or denying them.
This archetype encourages us to face our fears, and to endure life’s challenges with perseverance and tenacity.
It also suggests that we bring similar generosity to difficult others, knowing that many of our reactions may be grounded in avoidance of the qualities we disavow in ourselves, and that firm boundaries can be set with tolerance and kindness.
And finally--perhaps most pertinent to our current moment--Strength reminds us to not despair or give up, calling upon the deep wellspring of endurance that we will need on the road ahead.
Much love, compassion, and Strength to you all!
(Cards pictured here are from the Universal Waite, a recolored version of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, and the Modern Witch Tarot, a modern and diverse interpretation of the classic RWS deck.)
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Jessica Katzman, Psy.D.
I'm a psychologist with a private practice in San Francisco's Castro District. I'm interested in harm reduction, LGBTQQIAAP issues, psychedelic integration, social justice conversations, size acceptance, and any intersections of the above. I welcome your comments!
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