Welcome to part 3 of the Inside Tarot Series! Today we’re looking at Strength, The Hermit, The Wheel of Fortune, and Justice. As usual, we’ll look at the symbolism of the Rider Waite deck and then examples from various other decks.
The Strength card is one of my favorite cards and, incidentally, one of the cards that comes up most often when I’m reading for myself. It depicts a figure, sometimes male, but most often female, taming a lion. The card represents compassion and empathy overpowering brute force. Some depictions are quite violent, which is really unnecessary considering the meaning of the card. This is a card of spiritual fortitude. The infinity symbol usually floating over the figure’s head represents eternity and empowerment. Many depictions don’t showcase one overpowering the other, but the two of them existing in harmony. This represents a balance of feminine and masculine energies.
The cards above are from the following decks, in order: Rider Waite, Sacred Isle tarot, Tarot Mucha, and Celtic Dragon tarot.
The Hermit is The Fool at the end of his journey. After a lifetime of adventures and experiences, The Hermit now seeks inner truth and enlightenment, hence the lantern he holds. The Rider Waite’s Hermit does not offer up a lot of symbolic imagery, so let’s look at the other examples above: Gaian tarot, Wizards tarot, and Chrysalis tarot.
The Gaian tarot’s Hermit is cataloging his inner thoughts and truths while communing with an owl. The owl is a traditional symbol of wisdom. The Hermit of the Wizards tarot is in a library, a symbol of knowledge. The tome he holds is inscribed with the alchemy symbol for Virgo. According to myth, Virgo is the one sign to have undergone all stages of individual development, meaning it’s a symbol of maturity in terms of experience and wisdom. He is still seeking more, as he is illuminating his way with candlelight. The Hermit of the Chrysalis tarot doesn’t only seek more wisdom, he wants to share it as well. The olive branches on his head symbolize peace and victory while the crows above him are symbols of life’s mysteries, magic, and spiritual messages.
The Wheel of Fortune
The Wheel of Fortune is a card of fate, destiny, change, and/or luck. The Rider Waite version shows a sphinx, a symbol of knowledge and secrets, atop the wheel. The winged figures in each of the four corners represent the four Evangelists (man, eagle, ox, and lion.) The red figure on the bottom of the wheel is Anubis, the ancient Egyptian god of the afterlife. Typhon, the snake-like creature depicted on the left is a villain of Greek mythology for he challenged Zeus for control of the cosmos.
In the Sacred Rose tarot (second card above), Anubis and Typhon are featured prominently while the Sphinx watches carefully. The Chrysalis tarot and the Fairy tarot, respectively take far different approaches to The Wheel. The Chrysalis’s Wheel is at the base of the tree of life while the mother goddess is paying her respects to the fire of creativity. The Fairy tarot is far more lighthearted; The Wheel is used as a unicycle! It’s an apt metaphor. We’re all riding the wheel of life.
The Justice card can be taken quite literally, as it can represent a legal action of some kind, but it often refers to cosmic justice. Karma, if you will. The Rider Waite’s Justice is a seated figure balancing the sword of truth in one hand and balanced scales in the other. The Sacred Rose (second card) Justice is similar but is also blindfolded. Justice is blind and all that. There is little variation between the examples shown here other than the artistry of the images. The sword and the scales are a constant.
That concludes part 3 of this series! I hope you learned something new.