Strength and the story of Samson


Strength and the Mouth of the Lion

I agree totally with Mark Filipas in this quote:

The name of the eleventh letter kaph (KP) means the power to subdue, corresponding to the allegory of Strength. It is also the root of the word KPP, meaning to force, to conquer.
The letterform suggests the gaping mouth of a beast, and some of the earliest decks (such as the Jean Noblet Tarot c. 1660) depict the lion’s mouth facing in the same direction as the letterform.

In most of the images the interpretation has been that the mouth of the lion is being opened and/or closed.

Michael Maier says in Phoenix Redivivo: [The Songs of the Resurrection of the Phoenix.]

"The poets say that some fierce animals fell from the moon to the earth. Of these was that furious Lion, rising from the congealed foam of Diana, put to death by Hercules. The fables hide great truths. In this lion's mouth is hidden a thing highly esteemed by sages. Who will conquer this lion? The strength and club of Hercules are required. Try to know this Lion. He is fed with celestial dew."

The full title, in French, is: CANTILENÆ INTELLECTUALES DE PHOENICE REDIVIVO. In his recension, J.B. Craven writes: “This singular treatise was first printed at Rome in 1622," the year that Maier died," reprinted at Rostock in 1623, and "since then became very rare." The French edition, the only one I have seen, is issued from Paris, 1758, and is taken from the Rostock edition. “The Songs of the Resurrection of the Phoenix, is translated into English by Mike Dickman.

To paraphrase: It is not only the fables, but also the Tarot which hides great truths. And what is hidden in the Mouth of the Lion?

There are some clues. . . .
Yours sincerely


Welcome to AT, samten,

I suspect I will likely disagree with the manner of your description as time unfolds - but perhaps I have read your post (two above) incorrectly. If I have read it correctly, what I am seeing is thinking that suggests a kind of lineage of intended meaning and structure, rather than the transmission of artefacts with their various meaning arising within the rich ground in which various sagas and myth cycles have overlapping (even if also different) intended meaning.

For example, and though the Lion is indeed used not only in heraldry, but also in alchemy, astrology, and in Greek texts (such as the Heraklean cycle) and the Bible (Daniel and Samson come especially to mind), there are also perhaps narrower intents in the uses of the image when applying it to tarot.

In some ways, I am especially reminded of the equivalently depicted strength of Assyrian depictions dating from circa 1000 BCE, which to my eyes clearly depict something of the intent of the formidable strength of the depicted figure (in the context of the times, what a formidable rendition that one had better not even begin to mess with someone of that strength!):