Alchemical Study Group - XI Strength


I was reading Alchemical Psychology (I highly recommend this book) and the following stood out of the section on Calcinatio dealing with XI Strength.

Alchemical Psychology; Thom F. Cavalli said:
The fire operation also acts to separate the gross from the subtle by purifying and reducing dense matter to fine, white ash. In human terms, this means that we must take command of our instincts to avoid being a slave to their impulsive energy. We need, in other words, to burn away need-driven desires and uncontrollable urges. The alchemists envisioned this operation by depicting a green lion devouring the sun.


(from the book)

"Many people had attempted to conquer the Lion, but few had succeeded."
--The Parabola of Hinricus Madathanus Theosophus (pg. 160)

Following Fortuna as the Wheel of Fortune is Strength, who is an aspect of Fortuna. In medieval art, Fortuna was depicted as riding in a lion-drawn cart. Here, Strength rides astride a tamed lion. She is white like fume or smoke.

Strength also is the virgin aspect of the threefold Great Goddess. The virgin is the only one who can tame the unicorn, which is interchangeable with the lion in alchemy. The lion represents our untamed animal nature, our libido. Virgin represents our higher selves. The higher self tames the lower animal nature through love. Thus, Strength holds a flaming heart, the symbol of love. The sun and moon are the higher aspects of the Lovers. They pour the masculine and feminine alchemical fluids into a heart vessel.

The alchemical process represented in this card is fermentation, part of the process of exultation exemplified by the Hermit. In the exultation of matter, a ferment is incorporated with the matter to exalt it--it enters matter and brings it to a higher form. This is an anaolgy for the soul entering the body.

The green lion refers to antimony. The alchemist Valentine noted that antimony has the ability to free gold from impurities, and he concluded that it had the innate power to have a similar effect on humankind. Antimony also is the best source of mercury, but it is young and imperfect. Thus, green is the color of beginnings. Valentine also noted in The Triumphal Chariot of Antimony that antimony is poison, but can be transmuted into pure medicine.

The number eleven is a master number. One plus one equals two, which is the archetypal feminine principle. Eleven is the Anima Mundi. In China, it is the symbol for the Tao.

This image is based on an illustration in Michael Meier's Tripus aureus (1618).

Tarot wisdom: This is a card of inner strength. Our animal nature, our libido, is the source of strength and vitality, but similar to the lion it can be dangerous, and demands respect. Like the woman in the picture, we can tame the lion, and make its strength our own, it becomes our mount as we give it direction. But the word "tame" is misleading, the woman does not overpower the lion -- he has more physical strength than her --her power, as is ours, is love. She loves the lion, and the lion loves her back, therefore he does her bidding. Power comes when we love ourselves, and to totally love ourselves we must love our animal selves.


Kenny said:
I was reading Alchemical Psychology (I highly recommend this book) and the following stood out of the section on Calcinatio dealing with XI Strength.

I second the book recommend.:) _ Alchemical Psychology: Old Recipes for Living in a New World_ And add _Esoteric Keys of Alchemy_ by Paul Foster Case....:)



I have always had trouble with the Strength card. I like in this card that she is riding the lion, rather than just sitting with it. I feel that it shows the process of loving our animal selves is ongoing as we go through life, it's something we must work at.