Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Strength (La Force)

Tarot Rider-Waite
One of the interesting cards is "The Strength". That card is normally depicted by a woman gently holding a lions mouth open.
This image shows it all what this card is about, and is a good example of the subversiveness of tarot. This card has often in the past been called "fortitude", which is emotional strength  and is slightly more fitting to the meaning of the card.

The card  is card number 8 in Tarot Rider-Waite, but in Tarot of Marseilles the card is traditionally placed as the 11th card. Rider swapped the numbering of this card with The Justice, however, many writers disagree with this change. The reason was astrologically: Strength is represented by Leo, and Justice is represented by Libra. Leo comes before Libra, so the numbering was changed.

Jean Dodal's Strength

Rider changed a few items of this card: The infinity symbol sits like a halo over the figure's head, and she nicely touches the lion, looking caring and gentle. In Marseille cards the hat shows the infinity symbol in a more hidden way, but the lion's mouth is very violently kept open. The meaning of the card is the same with both: Interior strength, willpower, self control, kindness, love, courage, vigor. In a relationship this card is a very good card, showing positive behaviour.

St Jerome: Removing the thorn from the paw out of kindness
The picture of the lion, being dominated and tamed, is an old christian symbol. In the story of St Jerome (St  Hieronymus), the saint removed a splinter from the paw of the lion, and was later recognised by this beast. The storyline is similar: The force used is brain and kindness, rather than overpowering the beast with physical strength. Surely, in medieval times, people looking at the card of the strength, who opens the mouth of the lion, would be reminded of that christian story. Jerome is saint patron of translators, librarians and encyclopedists.

With this Arcana, the card has used one of the most moralistic aspects of the entire tarot deck. The fact that kindness, self-control and discipline, in short the general virtues, are simply described as strength shows how highly regarded they are. As an advisory card, the difficulty of being virtuous must not be forgotten. As a descriptive card, being virtuous is generally a good thing, and the card is overall good. As always, the meaning of the card has to be interpreted in relation to its positions an combinations within the spread. In a position that shows this card in a balanced way, it shows that the person uses fortitude, and is positively influencing the outcome. Is the card unbalanced in the spread, it turns into advise to become "more clever" about the behaviour, to try to use willpower without using physical force or aggressiveness.

If you want to know more about this card, or are interested in a reading in Notting Hill or anywhere in London, please contact me under

Sunday, April 21, 2013

IV of Swords in Tarot Rider-Waite Tarot Rider-Waite, the Four of Swords depicts a tomb, in a church, with stone carving of a knight on the top in a sleeping and pious position. Many readers believe that it shows an actual person sleeping, and modern Rider-Waite clone decks often colour in the person, to make him look like a real sleeping person on a tomb. In the original Rider-Waite deck, it is just an effigy of a person who is in fact dead. This does not change the meaning, but I feel the image is easily misunderstood.
The meaning of this card is rest and reflection after a fight or difficult task or  time. This card reminds us to recover and rest. The person shown is praying, which means he is still receiving celestial energy if he asks for it, which is what this card is about: Build up strength again, especially mentally. Now is the time to meditate, relax and let your mind go. This card is very similar to the Hanged Man, except that in this card the exhaustion makes it compulsory to rest. The four of swords advises us to take things calmly, and not take them too seriously and let them affect you too much, because that could lead to depression and psychosomatisation. If this card describes a situation rather than giving advice, the card means stagnation out of exhaustion, and the resources are missing to advance and progress. This is a situation after a crisis or a breakdown, and there is no immediate improvement. You are not able to move on yet.
Do you want to learn more about Tarot and the Four of Swords, please check out

XII: The Hanged Man

Tarot Rider-Waite
(c) Eltarotdecarmel
Hanged Man (Vatican Museum)
Also a saint
The hanged man has always been a fascinating figure. In tarot, he is depicted hanging upside down with one leg free. He is often depicted as a saint. However, the sainthood, which moves this rather grim Arcana into the realm of being a Martyr, is not shown in the other tarot decks. Rider-Waite took the sainthood from the meaning of the card.

This might be because the hanged man is not necessarily bad, and it does not necessarily describe wrong decisions - but it can, depending on the situation. In Christian iconography, the process of being hung often describes a God-given suffering, that can be rewarded in the afterlife. Therefore, the hanged man is not necessarily hanging because of a previous crime, but he can be seen as the victim of circumstances.

In Tarot of Marseilles (unlike with Rider-Waite), the Hanged Man is suspended via two posts, that represent the spiritual and the material worlds. The cut branches represent the karmic negativity of the ancestors. The figure represents the psycho-genealogical tree, whereby the head is the root.

The Hanged Man means stagnation, no movement, and remaining in place. The meaning depends a bit on the question if the card is read upright only, or including upside down as well. When all cards are read upright, the meaning is stagnation out of someone's own will, and voluntary submission. With this card, the person has to have patience, and possibly sacrifices himself for other people. The card is therefore not necessarily negative (like most cards), but can give the advice that relaxation and stagnation is productive. It can be related to the Four of Swords of the Rider-Waite tarot (the knight lying on a tomb), which means resting out of exhaustion, or with the Two of Swords of Tarot de Marseilles, which means thinking and taking decisions carefully, rather than taking action. The Hanged Man integrates in himself the knowledge or the intuition of the Two of Swords, because the process of thinking is completed. 

He now must make sure he does not move into any direction, and not take rushed decisions. He needs to be patient. This card also represents to meditate, and contemplate about your past life, to be able to identify negative and positive sides and take future actions accordingly. The Hanged Man is trapped, but he has the opportunity to better himself in the future.

Tarot de Marseille by Yoav Ben-Dov
If the card is read in the reverse as well, the reverse card can mean involuntary inaction, because of something that feels like a force that is causing the inaction (family obligations, physical impairment, overpowering fears, and lack of self-esteem etc.). If the card is reversed, one needs to take a new perspective, and change the situation, either psychologically or physically. How a tarot reader can add advice to a bad card can be seen in my previous blog.

The following card in the Major Arcana, card number XIII, the Death or Arcana with no name, will break this inaction, and changes will arrive.

In finance, the Hanged man, can therefore also represent unemployment or a dead-end job, and as advice, it can - depending on the question - mean that it is better to remain in the job. In Health, it can describe a person who is physically not able move very well. Together with the Emperor in a reading, the problem of moving can be physically related to the legs.  Together with the Hermitage, this problem can be due to old age. Because of the lack of self-esteem, it could mean the propensity to be addicted to alcohol, prescription and recreative drugs. Therefore, this card relates to the second chakra (the spleen chakra).

If you want to know more about the Hanged Man, or are interested in a reading, please find out more under Readings are available in London, Notting Hill, or vial Skype worldwide in English, Spanish, Italian and French.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ke$ha's new video - did she do my course?

Tarot in popular culture is always interesting. Some people say that tarot is completely misrepresented.Tarot is often shown as a "dark art", slightly simplistic and generally on par with the use of a Ouija board. Ke$ha's new video "die young" is no exception, but I still like it. The plot is simple, Ke$ha and her mates go to some building, dance around, drink, and incidentally use every spiritual symbol there is. Tarot has a smallish role in this video, but it is worth mentioning, because tarot is the only actual spiritual activity shown in this video. Also, we see the all-seeing eye, the pentacle, skulls and lots of leather. 

The "game" they are playing with tarot cards appears to be similar to familar constellations. From the gestures in the video, the cards they pull represent members of the crew as well as the artist herself. Ke$ha pulls the death for her and holds it onto her foreheard. They all point and laugh. Before, her friend pulls out a card that I cannot see, and the artist herself pulls the devil. They are using a black-and-white Rider-Waite deck.
Shortly afterwards they are throwing all cards into the air, which must be a  new method of shuffeling.

As silly as videos like this sound, there is a purpose to this. Tarot is supposed to be a fun way of discovering something about oneself and other people. Tarot Group Sessions can be very useful for group bonding, and discovering aspects about each other. Although many people consider Tarot sessions as something completely personal - and in most cases it should be - there is the possibility to have more light-hearted sessions in groups. Particularly, with "familiar Constellations" the cards are placed by the group in order of how they relate to the individual. Once the cards are turned around, the tarotist/tarot reader can advise the group on how the group can be improved, or how they relate to each other. Group sessions require from the tarotist more control over the session: No-one should leave upset, and the risk is that personal issues will be uncovered or even discussed. This is why such sessions should be light-hearted.

Even if it means that everyone throws the cards around in the end.

If you are interested in single tarot sessions, group sessions or courses in London or via Skype, please contact me under or e-mail me under