Thinking about the Strength card in the Tarot, and looking to the mighty Lion.
This image by leptailurus-serval
This LION ain’t LYIN’
The Lion man of the Hohlenstein Stadel
This is one of the very oldest sculptures ever made, on record. 40,000 years old, to be not exact but close. THAT’S CRAZY. That’s a lot of years, and an anthropomorphic sculpture of a Lion and Human? How cool is that. 40,000 years ago, our imagination was alive, and we were thinking of our beastly feline as a counterpart. Our source of power, the wild and fierce lion as our head, but the ability to act with hands and legs – the limbs of man. I’ve been doing my lion’s share of thinking and reading lately, and this lion’s been roaring for my attention. Read on.
The lion has been featured in the oldest known Tarot Deck (The Visconti, shown left) as well as in its modern and more widely used counterpart, the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot Deck (Right). Created in the mid 15th Century, the Visconti Tarot emerged at the beginning of the Renaissance, a period when our ties to ancient beliefs were being rediscovered and woven together with Christian ones. In this case, the lion re-emerges some 40,000 years later and roars it’s head – As the Strength card in the 78-card Tarot Deck.
Let’s learn more about Strength and the lion. Let’s go back few yesteryear.
The Cult of Mithras was an ancient mystery school in Rome from 1-4 AD. In case you missed the memo, a Mystery School is a group of people that meet to understand the greater mysteries of life and death, entering degrees of initiation based on their level of training and understanding the mysteries. Each mystery school has their own pantheon of Gods and Goddesses. The Cult of Mithras met in underground temples that were created in caves, and their cult incorporated Bull and Lion imagery. In these Mithraic caves were depictions of a Lion-headed man, just like this to be exact:
Looks a little bit like a 40,000 yr old sculpture, ain’t it?
In The Secret Teachings of all Ages by Manly Hall, he notes that “Candidates who successfully passed the Mithraic initiations were called lions and were marked upon their foreheads with the Egyptian Cross.” Representing both nobility, strength, and wisdom, the lion represented the highest level of control and understanding; taming their animal nature without losing their force, and gaining the highest degree of wisdom. Thus, true Strength, as the Tarot image/card implies, is achieved through wisdom and fortitude, and also submission before the Gods.
Let’s look at the lion from another angle. In Elisabeth Haich’s autobiographical book, Initiation, she discusses her past life in ancient Egypt (crazy maybe, maybe not) where lions were used in place of horses. According to her, only true initiates into the greater mysteries could tame and work with these lions. During her initiation into the mystery school of ancient Egypt, Elisabeth Haich could ride and use the lions at her will. In the book, she describes a form of telepathy and vibrational control (raising her psychic vibration to one of power) that sends the lion a message she is in charge. Pretty Cra, but fascinating to think about. And certainly makes sense when looking at the bright yellow background (hmmm, yellow like a lion’s mane?) and image on the Waite-Smith depiction of Strength where the woman gently closes the lion’s jaw.
King Solomon, Israel’s king in who reigned from 970 to 931 BC, (and a prophet, in Judiasm), was also known as the tamer of beasts, his throne ornamented with lions, and he himself holding the key to all knowledge. The lion, it seems, represents not only Strength, but wisdom, nobility, and rulership.
Even the Rolling Stones know what’s up. A beast can be a burden if not trained, tamed, and telepathed properly:
the rolling stones – beast of burden