So, the first thing you’ll notice when you look at the re-interpretation of the Strength card in The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr is that it is actually card XI rather than card VIII, as Strength is in the Rider-Waite Tarot. This is a controversy — or at least a discussion — in Tarot circles, with reasonable arguments on both sides. (You can read more about it through the links in the Strength entry.) In order to keep things consistent, I’ve chosen to keep Strength in the card VIII position for this blog series.
The move to card XI isn’t the only way in which Strength in The Goddess Tarot differs from the classic Rider-Waite. For many, the lion is the archetypical image of the Strength card. But on this Strength, there’s not a lion to be seen. Instead, Strength is represented by the Yoruba Goddess Oya (who is also honored in Santeria, Ifa, and other Afro-Caribbean traditions). Rather than opening the lion’s jaws, Oya instead is taming and commanding the mighty winds in this rendition of Strength.
Oya calls upon us to command powerful forces both within ourselves and in the world at large. She reminds us that we have the power to tame that which seems wild and out of control, through the force of our own Will. We have the ability to commune with the unseen and unseeable. As the Goddess of Storms, Oya commands the might of the thunderstorm, the hurricane, the torrential downpour, the mighty winds. While these are destructive forces, they are ultimately amoral — they destroy not because they wish harm, but because it is in their nature to destroy, to move things out of the way, to make way for new life and new creation. We can fear these forces or we can recognize that we are part of their cycle. Oya reminds us that we have this choice, and that we have endless reserves of power at our disposal if only we remember to use it.
Oya also reminds us that we have the Strength to face our trials, our obstacles, and triumph over them. When She appears in a reading, I take it as a call for the querent to remember their own inherent Strength and to draw on their own inner reserves. Oya assures us that we will be able to speak with authority when the time comes, that we will be able to command our energy and resources to achieve our goals. She also reminds us that even when we feel weak or at the mercy of the world around us, we are strong enough to withstand even the most forceful wind.
When Oya comes striding confidently into your reading, She reminds you that you have the Strength not only to withstand the winds, but to unleash the whirlwind if you so choose. She reminds you to be brave, even when your voice shakes. Speak your truth. Stand in your power. Command the wind and the lightning.