The interchangeability between Strength and Justice
The layers and depths that both novice and experienced readers can use within the Major Arcana, and all of the tarot for that matter, to deepen a reader is too much to explain in one blog post. One of the last episodes on the Tea & Tombstones went in depth on the interchanging nature between Strength and Justice in positions #8 and #11. Depending on the deck that you are using, these two may flipflop from other decks.
In that podcast episode, I explained why I think that Strength makes the most sense as #8. To demonstrate why I hold beliefs, I broke out my Herbcrafter’s Tarot deck (pictured above) to illustrate these points. As always, if you read in another or different way, I honor your relationship to your tarot practice, but these are some of the thoughts I have cultivated from reading tarot for 5+ years.
The 3 Horizontal Lines of the Tarot
We are going to be using this image a lot!
As you can see, once we lay out the Major Arcana starting with the Fool (card 0) as the head, and then line up the rest of the cards in numerical order from 1-21, we get 3 lines of 7. Many readers, myself included, place significance on the 3 lines. Some will place titles on these 3 lines such as: LIFE, DEATH, REBIRTH or EGO, UNCONSCIOUS, SUPEREGO.
I place the titles of CREATION, DESTRUCTION, EVOLUTION. Each of the first 7 cards speak to creation within ourselves. The second line is the destruction that we must go through in order to evolve. In the wild, when a species evolves to survive, they often must lose a characteristic, behavior, or facet of their DNA in order to go through that evolution.
I think that Strength makes sense as #8 because it begins the Destruction line. We need the Strength in order to move through the Destruction processes. We need to be able and willing to get honest, raw, and real about what needs to change so we can shift into higher alignment.
The cards that precede and follow Strength
So, we have our 3 lines of 7 and each line speaks to the Creation, Destruction, and eventual Evolution that will happen when we move through these cards. ** It should be said here, that in real life, we don’t often move through the Major Arcana in such a linear fashion. We bounce around, move forward and back, and skip cards as we jump into others. That is how life works**
Following our 3 lines of 7, it is helpful to see which cards would precede and follow Strength in the 8th position. The 7th card (last in our Creation line) is the Chariot. The Chariot invites us to take the sacred connection formed from the Lovers, and let that move us into even higher alignment and felt sensation with the world around us.
However, the Chariot is more of an initiatory card. The minute that we start to cultivate the energies from the Chariot is the moment that we have to leave it behind. The Chariot cannot go with us on our full evolutionary journey. It literally cannot carry us into some of the spaces that we need to be in.
That is one of our first destructions. The destruction of our assumptions, expectations, or beliefs that the Chariot can carry us through all we experience. Strength follows the Chariot to give us the Strength to step off, and let it go. After we do that, we get to the Hermit. The Hermit asks us to further expand on an unknown spectrum, confront all we are losing and about to lose. The Hermit asks us to see the light and the dark as equal teachers, because the lineage of both is where the Hermit resides. From that knowledge, we can collaborate with all the energies we experience with a sense of reverence. Strength comes before the Hermit to help us fortify ourselves to do the hard work that comes with the Hermit.
The 7 Columns of 3 Cards
Another way to look at and read the Majors, once we understand the horizontal lines, is to begin to look at the 7 columns with the 3 cards. The column that has Strength as #8 also has the Magician (the first card of the Creation line) and the Devil begins our Evolution line. The Magician is the awakening of our personal magick with the magick found in every corner and crevice of this magnificent world. The Devil begins our Evolution line because we find both sovereignty and higher interconnection with Spirit. With the Devil, we literally find ourselves home and and in every corner that exists.
Each of these cards act as an initiation into the line we go through. We need the Magician to begin our creation because we need to awaken to our spirit and the Spirit of the world. We need Strength to cultivate the courage and will within our hearts to walk this path. We need the Devil to begin our Evolution by stripping away all that doesn’t serve so we can move into our wild reclamation.
One final note on the columns in relation to this deck and the idea of initiation. The Herbcrafter’s Tarot deck includes a specific herb for each of the cards. If you look at the 3 herbs that make up of the column of Strength as #8, you see that Magician is Sunflower and the Devil is Blackberry. Strength is garlic.
Each of these herbs provide healthy nourishment and key nutrients for the body. Sunflower seeds and oil have heart-healthy fats. Garlic has nutrients beneficial for the immune system. Blackberries have tons of vitamins, fiber, and anti-oxidants. If each of these cards initiate us into the line, it only makes sense that their herbal counterpart would be herbs that provide key health benefits.
What about Justice
I am not going to mention the associations that then place Justice as #11 because that would be a TON more information to go into. I will post about Justice as #11 at some point, but if you want to hear about Justice, I go into a deeper narrative on that same podcast episode. You can find that, and all my podcast episode, by clicking the link below.
I hope that this helps you in your readings and workings with the tarot. Keep howling wild one!