When we see you

We release

Opening pain to the wind.

To open, to resist, to express.

A woman holds a lion’s jaw under a yellow sky. She wears floral string across her head and a white gown that descends to the floor.  The lion looks up, licking her wrist, teeth gnarled. 

Her expression is calm, she appears composed and comfortable as she holds the dangerous animal. 

The card is called Strength, or La Force, meaning power, force or, the capacity of the spirit. 

What is strength? 

One definition of strength is the ability to withstand. Which could be said to be the ability to feel. To feel may hurtful, saddening, and depressing. To feel we have to allow, to allow, and to let go, is to be vulnerable. 

Vulnerability is an opening.

Being strong is a state of openness.

Opening to life means to feel the pain that we have experienced, that is all around us and that we have been born with. When we open our bodies to the world, we become vulnerable, exposed and at risk.

We may feel tension within our body signalling danger.

These tensions are vibrations of pain from life experience. They resonate in our cellular body, keeping us in safety patterns of fear, anxiety and avoidance.

When we see Strength we may be called upon to open the jaws of this hurt body.

~

So where does this woman gain her strength? How does she open the lion with such grace? What does she connect to? 

Above her head is the infinity symbol; she connects to infinite wisdom. 

What is the oldest thing we do, that is with us until we die? 

She breathes. 

When you consciously breathe into your body, you acknowledge the pain of the body.

Finding ghosts within the fascia.

The card calls us to breathe into and open up these haunted parts of ourselves. 

When you inhale and exhale deeply from the body, there is a softening. A window has been opened for pain and tension to leave. 

The breath is like the wind, and the voice is a breath. When we breathe into pain, we create a space where we can speak from pain.

And when we speak from pain

we can release from pain.

~

But the woman holds this lion patiently. She has surrendered to her task. To tame wild beasts, and release old wounds we must surrender, and be patient. 

‘Strength II’ by Connie Hurley and Jack O’Flynn. Colouring pencil, pen, paint on handmade paper. 2021

A sexual tension can be read into the woman’s relationship to the lion, and seeing this card may be a signal for you to express your sexual desires, or to harness your sexual energy in a more focused or embodied way. 

To some, opening their sexual body will present the fear of orgasm, connection and touch; a fear of their sexual self. In the depths of our body their may be stored memories of pain that prevent release into authentic sexual experience. 

Once again, we find the breath, to untangle knots in the sexual body and experience the sensations of your desire and pleasure the breath will guide and support you. Connecting you to your partners, and to yourself.  

~

But some will see the woman closing the lion’s mouth; controlling and restraining it. To be strong can also be to resist; to resist our temptations, endure and stay calm in the face of hardship and difficulty. 

This card calls on us to be stoic as storms rage. 

Arcanum XI ‘Strength’ Tarot de Marseille

If this card is an act – it is an action from a deep place.

An intuitive, instinctual act. 

If your intuition feels lost, engage in acts that connect you to your physical body in a consistent manner.  Intuition too must be allowed, it is a force like the wind; unruly and invisible. 

Sometimes we have to become still to sense what direction it blows in.

~

But truly, this card is a new opening. Opening like a wild gust of air.

With our breath, we can begin this opening, with our voice we can release old selves, and with our instincts, we can move into the unknown.

~

A guide to daily breathing 

Breath deeply, slowly inhaling through your nose.

Find an opening in the back of your throat. 

Inhale down into the heart, feel the ribcages expand.

Breathe into the stomach, let it relax. 

Allow the breath to reach the pelvic floor.

Exhale and release. 

Incorporate this deep breath into your daily life.

~

Artwork comes from a collaborative project interpreting the Arcana of the Tarot between Jack O’Flynn and Connie Hurley, conducted by post.

Connie is an artist and star living in Edinburgh who is interested in gendered social and support structures, DIY methods of making, folklore narratives, processes and love. her work moves between sculpture, installation, performance, curation, facilitation and friendship. https://cargocollective.com/conniehurley

~

Jack O’Flynn 2021