8: Fortitude

We stand alone. We stand together. We hold up the world by ourselves. We hold up the world with each other. Lust is held in and bound, passion put aside for what needs to be done, but always prowling around is the feral lion-self that rubs up against us in the night. An endless array of bound, poised selves, an infinite cathedral with sacred cats prowling around; what they touch comes to life and sates their desire for petting.

What do you want? What is your lion’s desire? What passion of fire is the true cathedral you must hold up, alone or with others?

Usually, this card shows a woman taming a wild beast. Here, the ‘beast’ may be as human as the ‘woman’; the question of which one is free and which one is bound became open. The woman is as strong as Atlas, holding up the ceiling, but her strength holds her there – if she lets go, will it hold? Moreover, she’s wearing a huge posture collar. She’s the bound one here. Is she the wild one, tamed by the seeming beast?

Like the Chariot, there is an undercurrent of mind-body dualism here. The lion-girl could even be pulling a more traditional Chariot, one of the wild urges dragging a disciplined mind all over. Here, though, she is tame because she enjoys it, as is the pillar: strength bound and tamed, the knowledge that you have the strength to break the bonds once they stop being fun.

The strength to wait, to think, rather than to leap forth and beat a problem into submission. The strength to not use your power; the strength of measured inaction.

The animal strength here is free, but held back. It’s waiting and enjoying itself. The mental strength is bound; she’s not allowed to obsessively overthink the problem – she may spend most of her time with her mind turned off until she’s needed. This is the virtue of Fortitude – to have the courage to refrain from acting improperly, and to have the courage to act properly and incisively when it is the time for action.

Hold it in, stay true to your higher passions. Or shut up and pet this lion. She purrs so wonderfully, after all.