Welcome to the Midsummer Blog hop! If you've happened here by chance, then you are in for a treat if you follow the links below to all the other blog hoppers who are providing a chain that runs from 0 The Fool through to XXI The World.
My card of choice is Strength.
Most decks published today show Strength as Major Arcana VIII, however this wasn't always the case. In older Marseille-style decks Justice is found at position VIII.
So why the switch? Well, Back in the early 1900s, The Golden Dawn's
A E Waite (the creator of the Rider Waite Smith Tarot) was keen to add astrological references to the Major Arcana. But if Strength (Leo), kept her position at Major XI, then pesky Justice (Libra) would disrupt their plan to show all the Astrological trumps in their correct order.
And Lo! The switch was made! Righting some ancient Tarot wrong, no doubt :)
Aleister Crowley, another but more notorious member of the Golden Dawn, stuck resolutely to the traditional numbering for his Thoth deck. But changed the names of the cards - Strength became Lust. Contrary ol' coot!
Does this order-switching matter? Probably not really, because back in the day, the old decks didn't have numbered Major Arcana cards.
Why were numbers added? I fondly imagine that the various City States of Italy – each more powerful and vainglorious than the next – ended up with different cards in different orders. It's easy to imagine courtly gents in tights arguing heatedly about whether Temperance scored more points than Justice in their card game. That's the sort of argument that can get you run through with a rapier....
But I digress, what I REALLY wanted to share with you is the evolution of the image:
|Visconti Sforza - 1451|
Hercules giving the Ebil Nemean lion a jolly good thrashing.
Pretty danged violent to our contemporary eyes, isn't it?
|The Rider Waite Smith - 1909|
The combination of lion, woman and physicality that we strongly associate with this card makes an appearance.
|Tarot Sophistique - 2014|
A contemporary version of a Marseille Tarot image
Woman and Lion
we can see the nascent leminscate of the RWS in the circle of her hat.
The other virtues are Prudence (The High Priestess), Temperance and Justice (represented by, erm, Temperance and Justice).
I like the virtue of Fortitude being part of the Tarot deck. But Fortitude and Strength have slightly differing meanings:
Fortitude means courage in pain or adversary.
a) the quality or state of being physically strong
b) the capacity of an object or substance to withstand great force or pressure
The subtle difference is that Fortitude brings a moral strength, a valour (indeed a Virtue!) to the heart of the card, which Strength alone does not.
And there endeth the Lesson on Strength!
Hope you're ready to hop onwards to the next card?