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La Force (Strength) from the Jodorowsky-Camoin Tarot de Marseille
Strength from the Sakki-Sakki Tarot

History and Iconography

Early representations

The earliest known list of the Trumps (Sermones de Ludo Cum Aliis) calls this card La Forteza (Fortitude or Strength). It's one of the three cards that represent the cardinal virtues in the Tarot (the others being Justice and Temperance) – the fourth cardinal virtue, Prudence or Wisdom, is strangely absent.

In the Visconti-Sforza Tarot, the card is portrayed as a man with a club who prepares to strike a small lion at his feet, although an alternative interpretation suggests that both are focusing on a common, unseen enemy. The man is reminiscent of both the Greek hero Heracles [1] and the biblical hero Samson [2], who are both said to have fought a lion.

The Rosenwald Sheet depicts Strength as a rather passive woman next to a pillar, which is probably connected to the myth of Samson pulling down the central pillars of the temple where the Philistines were gathered. The woman has a sort of polygonal halo around her head, as do the other two cardinal virtues on the sheet. On the Cary Sheet, this card is only fragmentarily preserved, but we can still see a striking woman who subdues a roaring lion, her long hair flowing in the wind.

In the Tarot de Marseille, La Force (Force or Strength) depicts a woman with a cape and a broad-rimmed sunhat – with some imagination, one can detect the contours of a lemniscate in it, which the Waite-Smith Tarot deck has taken quite literally (see below). With an unmoved expression, the woman closes the mouth of a lion that seems to emerge from her long robes. In decks such as the Grimaud, she appears to be masked.

20th-century representations

In the Waite-Smith deck, the woman on Strength is dressed in white and wears flowers in her hair and around her waist; a lemniscate is depicted floating above her head. She seems to be petting a lion softly and lovingly while closing its mouth.

Suggested Divinatory Meanings

Strength can signify the courage it takes to conquer your fears and to hold your chin up in the face of hardship. This kind of strength isn't necessarily forceful – it can just as well be the voice of tolerance and calm. Carole Sédillot writes in Ombres et Lumières du Tarot: "[F]rom this Arcanum emanates an inner force that allows the initiate to be the absolute master of his passions and his energies."


These are not accepted outside of those who follow such attributions


Golden Dawn oriented (and derivatives)

Numeral : XI; 11

(though note that many 20th century decks have adopted the GD-numbering, exchanging trump 11 with 8)


(Note : These correspondences are specific to Strength as Trump 8. That is, they may not be appropriate for decks which places Strength as 11.)

  • Astrology
    • Type : Zodiac
    • Name : Leo
    • Symbol : ♌
    • Element : △ (Fire)
  • Alchemy
    • Type : Process
    • Name : Digestion
  • Colour : Yellow
  • Yetziratic Intelligence (Golden Dawn Version): Intelligence of the Secret of all Spiritual Activities
  • Musical Note (Paul Case Version): E Natural
  • Cube of Space position : East-Below
  • Tree of Life position : (3,5) (Binah, Geburah)
    • Interpretations :
      • Understanding of Severity
      • Severity of Understanding

In other languages

  • Dutch: Kracht
  • French: La Force
  • German: Die Kraft
  • Hungarian: Erő, Állhatatosság
  • Italian: La Forza
  • Portuguese: A Força
  • Spanish: La Fuerza