|Spiral Tarot (US Games 1997)|
There's so much going on in this card. We have the usual maiden and lion, but also red roses and white roses, symbol of Fire, Leo, Hebrew letter Tet (serpent), and the Tree of Life. You don't have to use those correspondences, but it's handy to have them printed right on the card, and lovely that they are incorporated in such a beautiful way.
'Ishtar subdues her lion nature,' reads the LWB. 'She loves her animal side, but does not want her instincts to gain dominance over her connection to the divine.'
Now that's interesting. Let's take a closer look at this Ishtar.
Ishtar was the Mesopotamian goddess of war and sexual love. She is more or less the same goddess as Astarte and Inanna, though there is some debate about this. For the most part, Ishtar seems to have been associated with the planet Venus, protectoress of prostitutes and patroness of ale houses. So what she has to do with the Strength card I'm not sure, unless it has to do with some New Age or neopagan meaning attached later to her. I'm not really comfortable with Strength being compared to Ishtar -- I'd need to know where that came from. ... Wait, wait, wait. I think I may have thought of something. Aleister Crowley's Strength card is called Lust and features a woman who is 'more than a little drunk, and more than a little mad; and the lion is also aflame with lust. This signifies that the type of energy described is of the primitive, creative order; it is completely indifferent to criticism of reason.' ~ Book of Thoth.
Now, Crowley had some serious issues with Bible imagery, and his Lust card is clearly the Whore of Babylon, but I can see connections to the goddess Ishtar, if she is the protectoress of whores, patroness of ale houses, and goddess of sex.
This may seem to be a far cry from our contemporary interpretation of Strength being the 'taming of the beast through the mildness of the maiden', but when you think about it, the RWS image is just a tamer version of the same concept Lady Frieda Harris depicts in Thoth.
Angel Paths Tarot suggests that this is a card of 'spontaneity and enthusiasm', and is about enjoying the whole life process. I can see hints of that balance in the Spiral Tarot card, with the red and white roses representing both lust and purity. The Hebrew letter, Tet, serpent, makes me think a bit of temptation or pleasures of the flesh, and the wreathed maiden in the pink dress seems to represent innocence and freshness (something you don't see much of in the Thoth version, though Crowley would argue that lust itself is pure and unsullied. Which might sound like a refreshing point of view until you found out the sort of things he actually did -- not unsullied, I can tell you. But I digress.)
Well, despite all these ruminations, I really do hope it's just a plain old Wednesday today. I don't really want to be taming or 'experiencing' any beasts today.