In most other traditional medieval art Tarot Decks, key 8 is called STRENGTH; However, in Aleister Crowley's estimation, the word strength doesn't do this description of intelligence justice; an opinion I share.
The LUST/Strength Card is Key,11 of the Thoth Tarot and Key 8, Strength, in the Druid Craft Tarot Deck. Key 8 in the Thoth Tarot is the Adjustment Card; However, I'll choose to place it with Key 8, Strength Card, for Thoth Tarot Readers, as does Robert Wang in his book, THE QABALISTIC TAROT.
In the Druid Craft Tarot-Key 8-Strength, instead of an attractive woman controlling a lion, we have a Celtic Priestess controlling a pig and/or wild boar. This makes absolute sense, for no lions roamed the wild forests of the Welsh lands. In ancient Britain, wild boars were even more feared than wolves. These great pigs were tough, hard and great survivors. Hence, they symbolized the true wild nature of the animal survival mind. Here, a completely relaxed lady, has tame the wild animal survival mind, and is in complete control of her wild predator self. With a light touch, she guides her companion, the animal survival mind, with the knowledge, understanding and love of friendship. Hence, the sword, lies unneeded on the fertile ground.
The Lust Card-Key 11, is the Path of Teth, the 19th Path on the Tree of Life. The Hebrew letter, Teth, means snake, which is often refereed to as Serpent Force. The zodiacal sign assigned to this card is Sun Powered sign of Leo; Leo is symbolized as a Lion, while Teth, is a Snake, the combination of these two, is the Lion-Serpent, the idea of which fostered the Dragon or Chimera images of the ancients.The interchangeability of the Lion and the Serpent symbols represents an important key in understanding the great embedded profundities of this card.
The serpent seems to be missing in the Druid Craft Tarot-Key 8, yet worn on her upper arm is the golden Celtic spiral, representing the "spiral" or serpent force of Life. The Thoth Tarot -ATU 11 displays this Serpentine Force as the "Holy Serpent" which represents the Kundalini force.
Also the Red Lion is the Alchemical symbol of Sulfur (solar power) combined with Mercury-Will (the Magus) which is the Philosophical Mercury underlying the formula of Creation called the "Philosopher's stone".
The Symbol of the star filled sky , a reference to the Egyptian Goddess Nuit, "Mother of the Gods", is above the head of the Goddess figure that is riding the multi-headed lion, reinforcing the Magus/Binah connection, and symbolizes the directing willpower of the 12th PATH; called the Philosophic Mercury.
The Path of Teth, connects Chesed (Mercy) and Geburah (Severity) and channels a great outpouring of Energy from the Masculine Chesed, to the Feminine Geburah. This Great Outpouring, is the Path on which Fire becomes Light. Light is information, which automatically forms into manifestation; from Geburah "tough love" to Chesed the Architect.
The Supernal Triangle is composed of 1-Kether (Crown), 2-Chokma (Wisdom) and 3- Binah (Understanding), and is composed of what Dr. Paul Foster Case stated in his BOOK OF TOKENS, as the "Radiant darkness of the Limitless light." The Supernal Triangle is above the Abyss, while the Path of Teth crosses just below it (the yellow path between Chesed and Geburah). Thus the Path of Teth, Lust, is the first Path of Microprosopus (Microcosm or Lesser Countenance.) and the Primary Path of the Higher Self, linking great opposites below the Abyss, forming the "Lion Serpent".
As symbols interchange, such as the Lion and Serpent, one understands that the realities these symbols represent, can also be interchanged. In truth, the 1st law of Thermodynamics,"One Energy that can not be created nor destroyed, only transformed", is the One Spirit of Qabalah, and can take any form it Understands and in great diversity; as the Universe has shown. Wisdom, is represented by the snake holding its tail in its mouth (also a 8 symbol). Many of us of the western cultures, know that the Serpent was also considered the Tempter, in the garden of den myth. However, since it is Fiery, the Serpent is vital Life Force, and/or the Redeemer. Just as the Sun is to earth. However the Sun itself is also Tempter, that uses, at first seductive warmth, to relax the sun-bather. Sometimes, burning the tempted-sun bather to near death on the beach and Redeemer, by providing Vital Life Force.
Transformation can be confusing but it should be known that without the flow of vital life force that carries the Understanding/Knowledge between opposites, there would be no "Power of Limitation", or polarity that produces electromagnetic energy that all manifestation is constructed of. To those who don't know, the "Power of Limitation", not only gives us the ability to examine/measure, self, but also to discern the information we wish to be. Thus, we have the Greater Countenance, the Macrosopus, of Limitless Light (Unlimited Universal Collective Unconscious), that can only be known as Darkness or Dark Fire (Dark Energy), designing Two (Male- Female) unbroken Self concepts, from 0 to 8 (8 is the Serpent Force), so that limits could be produced by the interchange of Will to Force and Will to Form. The Dark Light is the invisible/unseen subjective infinity of the One,(Macrosopus) and the Limited light of manifestation is the "O-bjective" of Kether who is Eheieh, I Will Be and knowable finite side of the 8, (Microsopus). The Soul, is therefore, a sphere (PI -infinity)which is often called by Gnostics as "The Mirror"---one side infinitely dark, the Abyss, and the other side reflective of the understood image of personalities who look into it. That could also be called the Unconscious and the consciousness.
To put this simply, The Lust of the One, by becoming Two, creates the "Law of Attraction" which we may know as Love. Love, makes opposites collide in a spiral frenzy of information sharing and must always join in impassioned flow of mutual attraction, (electric and magnetic) but at the same time there is conflict as they try to hold onto their own individuality. This keeps the O an 8. Hence, without attraction and conflict, there would only be O. You may have heard that it takes "2 to tango" and/or create rhythm, which is a harmony of opposites. Hence the "Dancing Shiva and Shakti" of the Hindu system. This is the stuff of Vital Life Force. I think you can now see why Vital Life force, is also called "sex energy" and why there are so many love connections and conflicts. Hence, Crowley calling the Traditional -Strength card, Lust. For the Divine Frenzy of copulation of opposites, never ceases. The Electric =Masculine force and the Magnetic=Feminine Force, must copulate in a rhythm of mutual "understanding" to create form.
The Lion symbol, Thoth Tarot, in the context of the Qabalah, has to do with the vitality of energy and is not a representation of intellect, as it refers to the greatest strength of all, the Light of the Sun, the ruler of Leo. The Solar Power represented in the Lust or Strength Card, can open the Higher levels of Consciousness beyond the Sun (Tiphareth) itself. The graphic representation of the Ancient god Mithra, whose body was that of a man and whose head was that of a lion, depicts this concept anthropomorphically.
The Brute force (symbolized by the Lion) of Kundalini (Serpent Force--Vital Life Force) can be used destructively or constructively, and on the very Path of Teth, flows the Vital Life force from Chesed (Mercy) to Geburah (Severity) which forges the Sword of Geburah (shown on the Druid Craft Tarot-Key 8), indicating the possibility of the initiate being overwhelmed by the power which one evokes. We are reminded ( Re-Minded) here, that as the Sun is a vital life force to manifestation, the Dark Sun, is vital to the flow of the Higher Collective Mind, but knowing your limits, and tempering yourself, will keep you from becoming Sun burned in the flesh by the Power of Kundalini, and the severity of a Mind Burn ( Emotional trauma) in the consciousness. Lust, in a Godly sense, can "burn out your lights"! So the initiate must become adept at Self Knowledge, knowing when to move and when to relax, a rhythm, so that they don't damage their "I sight", keeping their individuality when joining individual intelligence with Higher Collective Intellectual Forces.
Therefore, too much Sun/Vital Sexual Force can be dangerous, so that is why the Tantrics, and Gnostics, go through long, diligent meditations, exercises of intellect, and philological devices so that this flow of Vital Life Force is unblocked, but still controlled, (not feared) and can flow through and out in the union to 2 who become one, forming a Vital Spiral of energy flow, that Re-Vitalizes Life all around them. So all of you who wish to experience the Rapture of Kundalini, note that the Rapture can become a raptor to those whose "House is not built on a strong foundation" of fearless Love. Whole Love, Spirit-Mind-Body in unconditional union, is what holds your molecules together, even under the rapid increase in atomic vibration that your body under goes when the "Kundalini rises", will not disturb the cohesion of your ternary identity, nor even the molecules who are also in copulation.The Lust of the Divine Creative"----is the Orgasm of Vitality that never stops flowing and we call it "being alive".
To repeat,the Thoth Tarot- LUST card, ATU-11, replaces the STRENGTH, card which is Key-8, in the Golden Dawn , Ryder-Waite-Smith, Druid Craft and other more traditional Tarot Decks. So it may be confusing when Qabalists place it in the yellow Path of Teth, which is normally called STRENGTH-Key 8. As I stated, I agree with Aleister Crowley's expansion of the STRENGTH card, into the LUST card because the Passion-The Vital Force of Universal Construction, "the motion within the movement" of everything, is the Passionate expression of the I AM, where existence becomes 2, who then join (0=8 x 0=0) to become One Passion that creates All, i.e. the Active and Passive force of Kundalini, and/or of Lion-Serpent. It can also be called "Serpent theory" instead of the Quantum Physics "String Theory", where every particle has a serpentine string of active-electric and passive-magnetic- energy with in it and becomes two particles (positive/active and negative/passive) as it enters this limited light universe. In other words, there is within all, vibratory strings of Vital Fiery Force. Thus, Lust, where active and passive forces come/dance together, seems a more appropriate understanding of the underlying "motion" of Life. Hence, Crowley understood the old axiom ,"God is sex".
The Kundalini, or Fiery Lion Serpent is the Vital aspect of Life Force, which in manifestation, is duality of passivity and activity. Kundalini is known as the Sacred Fire, when in its active phase, purposely undirected by individual ego's but totally under the control of the Anima/Animus dance within each of us.In Sanskrit/Hindu, these two forces are called the Ida /Pingala; the twin serpentine forces that rise along the spinal chakra pathway.
The UNIVERSE ATU 21, is the completion of the LUST CARD, and you'll see the Woman figure riding the Lion Serpent on the Lust card, or petting the Lion or Boar in the Strength card, and later, dancing with the Serpent Force in the Universe card. Both illustrations are veils, concealing of principles, though at different ends of manifestation. LUST is the beginning of the Microcosm, where copulation/co-operation begins and THE UNIVERSE is the consummation. Both of these cards are of that which is Womb, at the Highest Level, the womb-man who has tamed the Lion-Serpent and the womb-man who dances in space surrounded by the Cherubim of the four elements are both expressions of that which is the EMPRESS key 3.
Again, this is a very powerful path and those of sensitive psyche, will be profoundly affected as this Divine Creative, cannot be known with the "I's", veil in Victorian sensibilities. One must appreciate the fact, that this Path of Teth, Lust/Strength, is a statement of methodology; whereby, the Will controls the Vital Life Energy. We must also remember, that the word Power, means "the ability to do work" and our body, if Loved as a master Craftsman loves and adores one's favorite- tools, gives us Will -Power in this dimension of crystallized energy. A power to weave our very own Vital Life Force into masterpieces! This requires a focused willful intelligence, and not some mad hatter personality, that can't even control its own thought and is afraid of its own lust. Skry this card only after you are capable of holding a one- thought or image focus during an entire meditation, while feeling "very turned on", yet not needing to do anything to end it! Any Psyche that Touches the Lust OF The Great Father/Mother, will be profoundly charged, changed, and expanded beyond comfortable perspectives, all of which can be dangerous to our delicate egos. but empowering to our Inner Divinity. In other words, one must be diligently trained in channeling higher and higher vibratory levels of Vital Life Force, before one "Rides the Lion-Serpent". That is why A.Crowley calls the Traditional Strength card Lust. For even the "little lust" of the manifested (Microcosm) seems to be beyond the cultural ego's control, as every politicians "secret life" will show. It is hard to imagine, what the Macrocosmic Lust would do to such a weak psyche... but then again,we have examples in Adolf Hitler, etc.
Lust/Strength represents a very important initiatory formula dealing with Serpent Power. This Spiraling Power is the Force that opens,or stimulates all the Chakras (energy centers) in the Human body. The Principles embedded in the Lust or Strength Card, tell us how to use this power. This is a "Divine Frenzy" which when stated Alchemically,"the heat of the furnace makes the Stone" or if religious,"inflame thyself with Prayer". The Heat applied, is the great passion or "adorable Fire" within the confines of Tantric exercises (Tantra means, "to expand and liberate"), or the exercise of the Middle Pillar (Aleister Crowley's book,777), all of which I recommend the interested party research.
Crowley's imagery may shock some, as he presents the Whore of Babylon, taming the Lion-Serpent but then he understood that the epitome of virginity (sign of Virgo), was the Sacred Virgins of the Temples, before Christianity, made them "evil women" or Saints, of which both perspectives were confusingly applied. The Christian word "Whore" is a bastardization of the Greek word , Hetacrate, meaning female companion. Something more for the diligent student to investigate! What is most disturbing to me, is the fact that people don't know that the Human body is the Sacrament of Spirit, it is the fulfillment of the Will of The One, Kether who is "I Will Be", and has now completed that Will by Being you!
When the Lust or Strength card is thrown during a reading, it means the querent:
- Is relying on spiritual powers to manage the situation at hand and is receiving the strength to over come.
- Following ones own inner light, doing what their "heart of heart". inner -self, says is right.
- There can be an experiencing of a "gut level" driving force, instinctual.and compelling for protection or survival.
- Also, possessing the courage of one's convictions.
- The strength of Passion, in the Higher Nature, which are power, courage, energy, action and magnanimity.
- One is experiencing the Law of Self-Domination, self-rule and self control.
Thank you for your interest,comments and supportive donations. May you live long and prosper.