Tarot Tuesday with Alayna Williams- Strength

Strength is one of my favorite Tarot cards. 

It's actually a very subtle card, and one that I used to help profile Tara Sheridan, the heroine of ROGUE ORACLE. Tara is a criminal profiler who uses Tarot cards to solve crimes, and I'm sure that she would approve of the use of the Tarot as a story prompt. 

When I think of Strength, I automatically think of big stuff. Burly guys. Large trucks. Weightlifters. Earth moving machinery. Car crushers. St. George slaying a dragon. Maybe Thor, brandishing a big shiny hammer. And that's the immediate bias that many of us often have: thinking of Strength as a physical quality. 

But in the Tarot deck, we see a woman with flowers in her hair, wearing a long white dress. She has a calm, peaceful expression on her face as she leans down to close the jaws of a lion with only her hands. This isn't a bloody battle of swords and fists. She's accomplishing her goal with a certain amount of tenderness, a gentleness that we can almost see in her face as she looks upon the lion. The lion seems to submit to her willingly, without a struggle, in the face of her compassion.

Traditionally, the card symbolizes fortitude and control over our own animal instincts, discipline to accomplish one's goals. It's interesting to me that Strength subdues her opponent without bloodshed. By her pose, we can't tell if she's been holding the lion's jaws for moments or hours. She is determined to achieve her goal, and she approaches it from a deep wellspring of courage and faith in her own power.

I was accustomed to heroines who kicked down doors with guns blazing and asking questions later. But in creating Tara, I wanted her to be different. I wanted her to have the endurance to solve the cases she's working, to be able to approach the lion in a thoughtful fashion. But I didn't want her to face all of her problems with a gun. As I thought about this card, I wanted her to be powerful, and confident in her power. I throw many obstacles in her way: death, disaster, secrets, betrayal, and estranged love. 

I decided to have Tara draw this card in ROGUE ORACLE, to identify with it. In her dreams, she became the figure walking across the desert with a lion at her side. She was able to tame the lion, to face the future and strategize about how she might conquer it. She fought monsters, saved the innocent, and rescued her lover from death.

And she did it with a softness about her that I admired, even in spite of myself. In the process of writing about Tara, I learned something: Strength doesn't have to be harsh or brittle. Strength means rolling up sleeves and facing one's fears, using one's mind and heart as well as one's hands. 

~Author Laura Bickle writes the Delphi Oracle Series as Alayna Williams.

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