Strength Is More Than Muscle

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The Strength card as depicted in the Rider Waite deck

The Archetypal Podcast returns from its Summer Sabbatical with its Twelfth Edition starring the eleventh Tarot card, Strength. After a turn on the Wheel of Fortune our Hero/Fool is taken in a new direction and learns from the Lion and Maiden depicted in this card.  Inner strength is called for with the knowledge that it’s made up of patience, self-control, and the awareness of one’s instincts and drives. Archetypal Consultant Julienne Givot gives us the breakdown of the empowered and disempowered archetype of the Damsel and reflections on Beauty and the Beast. Tarot Consultant Cyndera Quackenbush regales us with a retelling of an ancient Korean myth about a woman’s lesson in true courage.  See below for a written version of the story.

Key Words:

  • Fortitude – Lust – Courage – Patience
  • Self-control – Being solid – Patience – Compassion
  • Composure – Stability – Perseverance – Moderation
  • Kindness – Gentleness – Slowness – Softness
  • Serenity – Comprehension – Discipline – Inner strength

Film References:

La belle et la bête (Beauty and the Beast)  by Jean Cocteau (1946)

Wizard of Oz (The Cowardly Lion and Dorothy) (1939)

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The Tiger’s Whisker – A Korean Folktale

A young woman came one day to the house of a mountain hermit to seek his help. The hermit was a sage of great renown and a maker of charms and magic potions. When the young woman entered his house, the hermit said, without raising his eyes from the fireplace: “Why are you here?”

She said: “Oh, Famous Sage, I am in distress! My husband, who has just returned from fighting in the wars, hardly speaks to me and is as cold as ice. If he does speak it is with the most explosive fire in his voice! And he no longer enjoys the delicious food that he used savor at our supper table. I want a potion to give my husband so that he will be loving and gentle, as he used to be.””Ha, so simple is it? Can we cure a sick world with a potion?” the hermit said.”Master,” said the woman, if you do not help me, I am truly lost!”

Resigned at last, the hermit said, “Very well; I will help you to make a potion. But it requires an ingredient which I do not possess. The most essential ingredient is a the whisker of a living tiger.”

“The whisker of a living tiger!” She exclaimed. “How will I possibly get that?”

“If the potion is important enough, you will succeed,” the hermit said. He turned his head away, not wishing to talk anymore.

The young woman went home. She thought a great deal about how she would get the tiger’s whisker. Then one night she crept from her house with the most delicious morsels she had cooked especially for her task. She went to the place on the mountainside where the tiger was known to live. Standing far off from the tiger’s cave, she held out the food, calling the tiger to come and eat. The tiger did not come.

The next night She went again with some well-prepared food, this time a bit closer. Again she offered the food to the tiger. Every night she went to the mountain, each time a few steps nearer to the tiger’s cave and even though fear caused her knees to shake she took these footsteps forward.

Little did the young woman know, but the tiger was becoming accustomed to her presence and every night was also creeping closer in her direction. Eventually, one night, the two could see eachother in the moonlight just a stone’s throw apart. It happened again the next night and they were so close she could feel the warmth of the great feline’s breath. As the tiger knelt to eat the food she had given him, She reached out a hand very quickly and plucked a whisker from the Tiger’s face-

And the tiger

pretended

not to notice…

Clutching the whisker tightly in her hand, she backed away slowly, thanking the tiger softly and then went down the path, walking not running, towards the mountain hermit’s house.

“Oh, Famous One!” She cried, ” I have it! I have the tiger’s whisker! Now you can make me the potion you promised so that my husband will be loving and gentle again!”

The hermit took the whisker and examined it, his face alit by the flames of his firepit. Satisfied that it had really come from a tiger, he leaned forward and dropped it into the fire. It vanished immediately in the smoke.

“Oh sir!” the young woman called in anguish. “What have you done!” She proceeded to tell him the story of how patiently, over many weeks she had approached the tiger. “But you have thrown the whisker in the fire! It is all for nothing.”

“No, I do not think it is all for nothing,” explained the hermit. “Is any person more vicious than a tiger? The potion in which you sought was your own courage. You thought you did not have courage because you were afraid of a man. But true courage is being able to feel the fear and still take those steps forward. If you can win the confidence of such a wild creature, surely you can do the same with your husband?”

Hearing this, the young woman stood speechless for a moment. Then she went down the trail, walking but not running, towards home.

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