The wisdom of tarot for dark days is about the wilt. It’s a surrender that allows you to find your resilience again on the other side.
On a day when the energy of the world—transmuted through the news, my personal life, the lives of the people around me—feels particularly dark and heavy, I have pulled the Strength card from the tarot deck.
This particular Strength card is from The Dreamkeeper’s Tarot created by Liz Huston. It shows a woman enwrapped by a serpent and growing out of a broken egg. There’s a key in her hand, and the waning moon is behind her.
In classic tarot decks, such as the Rider Waite Smith, the Strength card depicts a young woman softly closing the mouth of a lion. Both images speak to the strength that is needed to face our inner monsters and to the concept that strength comes from wisdom and presence rather than brute aggression.
Inner and Outer Monsters
The Strength card is about finding compassion, kindness, and patience—those qualities that we don’t normally think of as being “strong.” Part of what I see in this dark moment is this woman struggling with the serpent that surrounds her, but I’m also thinking about relationship. What is her relationship to her own struggle? Is she compassionate to her inner monsters as well as the external ones? Is she fighting against her own struggle or allowing both herself and the serpent to rise together from the egg and be born?
[Read: “How to Read Process-Oriented Tarot (No Memorizing Required).”]
Usually, when Strength arises, we are looking at a struggle within ourselves. The serpent or the lion are the monsters of our minds, the parts of us that are trying to be still, to stop moving forward or stop trying in order to keep us safe from risking change. But there’s a birth happening here at the same time. When we engage with the struggle, when we learn about these ferocious parts of us rather than fighting them or trying to resist them, we might be able to access the key the woman is holding behind her back.
Tarot for Dark Days: The Wisdom of the Wilt
Difficult times always come with some sort of useful learning, change, or gift. We can’t always see it in the moment, but change always has some positive and some negative results. We don’t always want to change, we don’t always feel ready, but being born happens at its own pace. The egg cracks, and here we are—exposed to the air, in the middle of our struggle with ourselves.
[Read: “Stop Fearing Change.”]
When I shared this card with a friend, she brought up what had happened in her garden recently. The snowdrops and hellebores had bloomed in the early spring in the Pacific Northwest where she lives, but then a few days of frost caused them to wilt. Then, the sun returned, the earth warmed up again, and the flowers returned to life. I loved this story because of the idea of the wisdom of the wilt. The flowers were able to come back to life not because they struggled against the frost, insisting on blooming despite the terrible conditions, but because they actually drew back into themselves. They surrendered to what was happening. Sometimes we need to do that with our struggles. We need to slow down and feel the pain of what’s happening so that we can find our resilience again on the other side.
So, if you are in a difficult moment right now, struggling with something, look for strength in softness. Look for love, compassion, self-care, kindness to someone else. Even in your need to rest or cry or numb out with a dumb TV show. Let yourself feel what you are going to feel. Give yourself a chance to recover your resources so that when it’s time to come back to hope, movement, and positive change you have the energy—and the soft, compassionate strength—to be powerful again.
Want more tarot wisdom? Discover ten ways to use tarot in your everyday life.