Continuing with our discussion of Tarot, we will address the spiritual power with these cards:

VIII – Strength

This card shows a young woman gently caressing a fierce lion, the representation of soft power. In ancient cultures, the lion—and the lioness of course—was the preferred symbol of raw passion and strength at both personal and societal levels. Using her spiritual strength this woman manages to convert that ferocious beast into a domesticated cat; the “invisible nature” of soft power makes that oftentimes it is disregarded and even undervalued in our usually aggressive social interactions. However, the capacity to persuade, and not to force, others is a critical asset that has more relevance now that women, using their transformational style of management (more democratic and participatory) are slowly displacing the hitherto predominant transactional style of men (more command and control in nature) Times change.

Note – This image of Amedeo Modigliani’s Portrait of Jeanne Hebuterne was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

In 1990, Joseph Nye, professor at Harvard University, published Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power where he said: “when one country gets other countries to want what it wants might be called co-optive or soft power in contrast with the hard or command power of ordering others to do what it wants.” For this author, power is the ability to influence the behavior of others to get the outcomes you want; a country can do it with brute force or using its soft power. According to Nye, it is based on its culture, political values, and foreign policies.

In 2001, Robert Greene published The Art of Seduction, his second book, where he described 24 seduction techniques. In The 48 Laws of Power he wrote: “ seduction is about power and manipulation as it is about romance, about how to make someone fall under your spell.”

Upright strength – When this card appears, it means that you are strongly motivated by your inner spiritual strength and you have the stamina to undertake great tasks. You do not try to coerce or force others to accept your will but rather you gently try to persuade them “to see things your way.” The invisible nature of that great gift makes some foolish contender to underestimate you and try to take advantage of a situation. You will manage to turn the tables around and show who really rules. By controlling your animal instincts, you are able to re-direct that precious energy.

Reversed Strength – When this card appears, it means that you are either depleted of your inner strength or you are perilously overflowing with it, leading to mistakes. Contrary to the Upright Strength, you have lost your connection with your source of energy. The equilibrium must be recovered by calmly assessing what is missing or what is excessive in your present situation. After a major setback, both at the personal and social levels, we feel weaker and more vulnerable to outside influences. You must pause and calmly re-consider what brought you to that situation. Only by tapping again your spiritual source of strength, will you be able to recover from it.


IX – The Hermit

This card shows an old man standing atop a mountain, a sign of spiritual mastery; he is someone that has chosen a hard path of self-awareness and sacrifices. In his right hand he is holding a lantern with a six-pointed star—the Seal of Solomon. As he takes another step, he sheds light on the pathway immediately ahead, not far away. His left hand, whose sensations are transported to our Right Hemisphere (the seat of our Emotionality) is holding a long stick, an ancient symbol of authority in tribes. This card epitomizes the need for self-introspection, separated form the maddening noise of the world, to reach an understanding of who we are and where we are going.

Note – This image of Francisco de Goya’s San Ignacio de Loyola was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Ignazio Loiolakoa—also known as Ignatius de Loyola and Ignacio de Loyola—was a Spanish Basque priest that “revolutionized” the staid Catholic Church by emphasizing the need to carry long, deep introspections in order “to know who we are” and by establishing, together with his comrades, the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1539. After being gravely injured in the Battle of Pamplona in 1521, he had a along recovery period for his lesion of the left leg, which eventually lead him to the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat. He did deep introspection and confessed all his past sins before giving up all his material possessions, his clothes included. He walked up to the neighboring town of Manresa where he begged in the street for his keep and spent long hours in a cave, praying to God Almighty and repenting. After a short pilgrimage to the Holy Land (where he had some “differences” the Franciscans who were in charge) he returned to Spain and studied Theology and Latin in the Universidad de Alcalá from 1524 to 1534. He travelled to Paris to study at the Collège Saint-Barbe where he obtained a Master of Arts degree in 1535. His meditation techniques were fully explained in his book Spiritual Exercises, which triggered a brief process by the Roman Inquisition until he got a papal pardon. It was the first friction between the Jesuit Order and the Roman Curia, which still persists today with the nomination of Jorge Bergoglio, a Jesuit priest, to Saint Peter’s seat.

A few years ago we did several Ignatian retreats (no talking of any kind) in a Juan XXIII house of Miami, under the guidance of the late Jesuit priest Padre Llorente. It brought us a lot of spiritual good and we are re-considering going back for another round. In this supposedly “modern age”, where all our spaces are invaded by obnoxious pings, we need the oasis of Silence more than ever.

Upright Hermit—This image is a clear call to engage in a period of deep reflection. Stop being distracted by the cacophony of torrential sounds of our consumerist society and take the necessary time to reflect on where you are and what is missing. Do you feel that you are achieving your professional or labor objectives? How is your relationship with your fellow co-workers, superiors, and subordinates? Do you have outstanding issues at home that you must address with your family members? Perhaps there are some personality flaws that make other people take a distance. Perhaps you should do a bigger effort to reach out to your children, spouse, parents.

Downright Hermit—This image means that you are either coming out of a period of introspection or that you should start to do it, trapped with too much self-isolation. Perhaps you went through a period of professional or labor re-engineering but now you are ready to jump again into the daily fray of our competitive society. At the strictly personal level, it might mean that your voluntary or casual withdrawal into your own cocoon is already hurting the feelings of someone close to you—a partner. Stop wallowing in your own concerns, fears, plans, and have a good look at him/her. Most likely you will find new ideas, new plans, new feelings that must be shared right away.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.


2 thoughts on “Symbology in Tarot – Major Arcana Part V

  1. Marito, this theme is super interesting for me and many people. I am pretty sure. I am going to read again savoring the words, word by word to memorize your description and your thorough interpretation. Thank you!

    1. Good afternoon and thanks for your nice commentary, dear Merceditas. We would like to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Un grosso baccione..Arrivederci!

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