“The card entitled ‘Strength,’ like several others in this cycle, reveals a profound simplicity, the kind it takes a lifetime to understand. In the picture, a woman has apparently tamed a lion with her gentleness. The strength suggested by the title is not physical strength but the mental strength that the higher self manifests. Notice that the 19th path is a vertical path connecting spheres that are essentially opposite. Chesed, the sphere of Jupiter, represents creative, up building, organizing forces and is associated with mercy, abundance, and order. Geburah, the sphere of Mars, represents destructive, restricting, disciplining forces and is associated with severity, power, and justice. Essentially, Chesed and Geburah are the primary creative and destructive forces of the cosmos. The 19th path balances the spectacular primal energies with the perfect discipline of Geburah and the perfect order of Chesed, and that harmony is reflected in the sphere of Tiphareth below.”
   “Does the lion suggest that those energies can be dangerous?”
   “Oh yes, extremely dangerous if not handled properly. The three vertical paths on the Tree of Life connect spheres that are essentially opposite in nature. Understanding the law of polarity is the key to understanding how to handle the forces--the key, really, to survival and spiritual development. If you look around, you can find examples of polarity everywhere. Obvious examples of polarity are hot and cold, masculine and feminine, love and hate, spiritual and physical. In fact, you can find examples of polarity on all levels of being, and you can always move from one pole to the other by degree. For instance, you can move by degree from hot to cold or from love to hate, or vice versa. The universe is not caught in an eternal conflict between good and evil, God and the Devil. One pole is not absolutely evil and the other absolutely good. The spiritual is not better than the physical, just like cold water is not better than hot water. They are simply two poles of one thing, and everything is relative in context.”
   “But doesn’t the fact that we are attempting to evolve from something lower to something higher suggest that some states are better than others?”
   “Essentially, the ability to polarize from one state to another to establish harmony reveals to a great extent the degree that a person has evolved. Remember that I said everything is relative in context. Hot water is better than cold in some contexts. Severity is better than mercy in some contexts. Knowing what is needed and having the ability to polarize to the required state is the true strength. As an occultist, your primary goal is to know how to polarize mentally from one state to another, from the physical plane to the spiritual plane, for instance, or vice versa, depending on the circumstances. If you develop the discipline, you should ideally be able to move by degrees emotionally, mentally, or spiritually for the highest good in each situation, maintaining balance the way a person on a bicycle maintains balance. And, like riding a bicycle, once you learn how to do it, you never forget. Notice, though, the hill of attainment in the background behind the woman. Attaining that level of knowledge is no easier than climbing a mountain. Just ask the hermit.”
   “But in the card, the woman appears to be dominating the lion.”
   “The positive pole tends to dominate the negative. ‘Strength’ is a depiction of that tendency. Relatively speaking, the feminine, associated with love, gentleness, nurturing, and beauty, and the masculine, associated with will, courage, energy, and aggressiveness, are combined in harmony. The lemniscate floating above the head of the woman suggests a recognition of the infinitude within, revealing a spiritual knowledge that tames the masculine lion, the higher, positive vibration of Chesed symbolically dominating the sphere below it. And in fact, each sphere is positive in relation to the sphere that it emanates, and negative to the one that came before.
   “But the control of energy also hints at another basic Hermetic law: The energy of the universe is essentially mental energy. With this knowledge, you can learn to project energy into another person’s aura, with that person’s permission, in order to change his energy levels. I’m sure you’ve seen a bright, cheerful person waltz into a room, making everyone feel happy, just as, conversely, you’ve probably encountered someone who can make everyone in a room feel depressed. Living in your higher self, you are more aware of these fluctuations of subtle energy, which makes it easier to protect yourself and to help others who are seeking assistance. But do not, I repeat, do not ever forget another basic law: the law of karma. The energy you send out will come back to you, sooner or later. The vast majority of people send out mental energy unconsciously, unaware of the consequences, but the higher self strives to remain aware at all times, if possible.
   “You have purified yourself mentally in a previous cycle in order to polarize from the negative to the positive more easily, but remember that you often encounter negative thought-forms in the world, so while you meditate, I strongly recommend that you continue the practice of mentally cleansing yourself. In this day and age, even the greatest adept needs to cleanse his mind regularly.
   “In this card, you see a woman who is able to tame a lion because she is aware of spiritual laws and energies. The lion suggests not only great physical strength and power but also relates to the element of fire, appropriate for the sphere of Geburah, and the astrological sign of Leo, which is associated with this card. Since we all have masculine and feminine characteristics, containing the quailities of Geburah and Chesed, and all the other spheres on the Tree of Life, we can use the law of polarity to balance energies in order to live effectively in the higher self on this plane. If we are not aware of the subtle energies around us and inside of us, too much severity could lead to cruelty and too much mercy might allow terrible evil. The higher self uses spiritual laws to harmonize all the energies inside and outside as much as possible.”

Atziluth: Lemon yellow.
Briah: Deep purple.
Yetzirah: Gray.
Assiah: Reddish-yellow.

Take the next path.

Cards associated with Leo:
Five of Wands.
Six of Wands.
Seven of Wands.
Cards associated with the fifth sphere, Geburah:
Five of Cups.
Five of Swords.
Five of Pentacles.
Cards associated with the fourth sphere, Chesed:
Four of Wands.
Four of Cups.
Four of Swords.
Four of Pentacles.