The card on the left is from the most well-known and often used decks in the world of tarot called the Rider-Waite. I’ll be using the images and traditional meanings from this deck to discuss tarot in the Learn Tarot with Harry Potter series. The artwork of Luna belongs to Felicia Cano.
Traditional Meaning of Strength
As we study the Strength card from the Rider-Waite deck we see several variations of the theme of strength. A woman clothed in a loose white tunic tenderly leans over a ferocious lion. She peers into his sharp-toothed mouth and gently hold his head in place with her hands. It is hard to tell whether she is keeping his mouth open or shut, or maybe even petting him, but whichever it is, she is in control. His tail is tucked between his legs and he gazes up at the woman in submission. A garland of roses twists around her waist and an infinity symbol hovers over her head like a halo. Despite being in what seems like a dangerous position, the woman looks not only calm, but serene; completely at ease with how close she is to the mouth of the lion. Behind her is a bright yellow sky, and below their feet is a lush green landscape.
In some ways the strength card’s themes are obvious – it speaks to inner strength and courage, of not being afraid of the ‘beast’ before us, but it also brings nuances to the idea of “strength” and helps us examine what being strong means to us. The woman is strong, not because of her brute force and physical strength, but rather because of some inner calm and confidence she possesses. True, she isn’t afraid of the lion, an animal which is renown for its prowess in overpowering and brutally killing its prey, but it isn’t just that she isn’t afraid, she has actually tamed it. Her peaceful nature and inner calm have somehow subdued this ferocious beast. The Strength card tells us that we can do this to the ‘beasts’ in our lives, through calm, gentle action and inner courage. The Strength card tells us to go through life with a kind of grace and a gentle handle on things, and to be consistent and patient in our dealings to come out on top. It reminds us that having courage and believing in one’s self puts us in control, even in the most precarious situations.
Luna Lovegood as Strength
If there is one character that embodies the Strength card in the Harry Potter series, it’s Luna Lovegood. I mean, there are plenty of strong female characters in the series, but none have the inner calm and fortitude that Luna does. To understand why Luna personifies this card more than all of the other strong females, we need to take a look at who she is and how she behaves in the series.
We first meet Luna in Order of the Phoenix, which is Harry’s fifth year at Hogwarts. Harry, Ginny, and Neville are looking for a place to sit on the Hogwarts Express and end up in the same cabin with Luna. The first impression we get of her is of someone quite strange. She is wearing a butterbeer cap necklace, has her wand behind her ear, and she is reading a magazine upside down. Throughout the ride, she pops up from her magazine to interject weirdly observant (and truthful) comments, and even laughs hysterically at one of Ron’s jokes, to the point where he doesn’t know if she’s laughing at him or not. She seems like a silly side character, but when the train arrives at Hogwarts and Harry notices the thestrals for the first time, it is only Luna who steps in to affirm what he is seeing. From this point on, Luna grows into an important character in the series, and a perfect representative of both inner and outer strength.
Firstly, Luna shows inner strength by not caring what others think. She wears what she wants, reads what she wants, and is open to strange theories even when others make fun of her. The picture above, and one of the cutest scenes from the books, is when Luna wears the animated lion hat to support Gryffindor in the Quidditch match. It roars out loud and is absolutely ridiculous, and draws stares and ridicule, but in typical Luna fashion, she doesn’t care and rocks the hat anyways. Luna never tries to change who she is, despite being made fun of. We get the sense that she is ‘silly’ or ‘out there’ but if we look deeper, we see how much courage and inner strength it takes to be who you are no matter what others think of you.
Secondly, Luna remains calm in the face of adversity, almost to the point of absurdity. We see this most pointedly in the scene from Order of the Phoenix when she is being held by Umbridge and the Slytherin Prefects, and when she talks to Harry at the end of the year. In the first instance, she is being held tightly by the thugs in Umbridge’s office. All of the other characters are struggling and being beaten up, but Luna is described as staring out the window and looking unbothered by it all. Somehow she manages to remain completely calm despite the violence being done to her and to those around her.
In the last scene of book five (and one of my absolute favorite moments), Harry runs into Luna when he’s trying to avoid the end of the year feast. He is feeling isolated and angry about Sirius’s death. Luna is putting up flyers to ask for her belongings back. Harry becomes angry as he hears how each year the students steal Luna’s things, but Luna remains remarkable calm and serene. She remarks nonchalantly that her things always turn up, she just wanted to pack early, but she is going to have a dessert because she knows she’ll get them back by morning. She proceeds to have a profound conversation with Harry about death, and leaves him feeling a little less burdened by his grief. Luna never seems bothered – which can be seen as weakness by some, but really, she is one of the only characters to not become enraged and still make it to the end, loved and respected by others. (Harry even names his kid after her).
Luna is also a support system for others. She is always seen comforting, listening to, or encouraging the other characters. We see this most specifically with Harry, in her willingness to sit with him in his grief over Sirius. She doesn’t make him talk about it or ask him questions, she simply sits with him where he’s at. Because she has gone through similar grief, she is able to hold that grief with others, which shows her amazing inner strength, patience, and wisdom really. She also is seen comforting Ginny and even Hermione at times, and states truths that others need to hear, even if they are uncomfortable with the observation.
Lastly, Luna shows courage and bravery in her actions. She ventures with the group to the Ministry and plays an integral role in the battle there, faces Umbridge and her thugs before going to the Ministry, joins Dumbledore’s Army, and even though we don’t see it firsthand, we hear how she has sided with the students in rebellion in The Deathly Hallows. She is kept prisoner for several months in book seven, but even this doesn’t seem to wither her inner strength or faith in Harry and his mission. She fights bravely and with courage, making her a perfect representation of the Strength card.
The portrait of Luna above really relates to he imagery in the Strength card. There is the same message of strength and hope, especially when we consider the context of Luna and the lion hat. Obviously, the hat itself ties into the imagery on the Strength card, and although it is different (Luna is in its mouth), it is apparent that Luna is in control and wearing the hat; that the hat isn’t wearing her. Her good nature, serenity, and inner strength shine through in her eyes, her expression, and her hand gesture, just like in the Strength card.
How Luna as Strength Helps Us Read Tarot
Luna Lovegood as Strength helps us read tarot because as we think about how Luna stays true to herself, keeps her calm, and exerts courage, we can think about these elements in our own life. Let’s look at a few questions about Luna from book five onward. They are asked with Luna and the Strength card’s themes in mind:
- How does Luna react when she is being ridiculed and why do you think she acts this way?
- What do you think Luna’s inner process is – what goes on in side her head, especially when faced with adversity?
- Do you read Luna’s calm detachment as a weakness or a strength? What beliefs inform this opinion?
- What do Luna’s fashion/reading choices tell us about her strength of character?
- What’s your favorite instance of Luna being a support system for others in the books?
- How does Luna as a character influence your thoughts on the theme of strength?
How We Can Ask These Same Questions of Ourselves
As we ponder the above questions about Luna, we can turn these questions towards ourselves. This is helpful as a fun way to self-reflect, but more importantly, if we contemplate these questions, we can tie them into any tarot reading where Strength comes up. Whether is for yourself or a querent, think about these questions when the Strength card appears in a reading:
- How do you react when you face adversity in your life? Why do you react this way? Do you think it is coming from a place of strength?
- What is your inner process when faced with these tough “beasts” of situations in your life?
- If you were to be able to react to adversity with detachment or calmness, would you feel this was based in weakness or strength? What beliefs inform this opinion?
- What do your ‘lifestyle’ choices say about your strength of character?
- How do you provide strength for others, or others for you? Where do you find sources of strength in the world?
- Think about the theme of strength or inner strength – what does it mean to you? What words do you associate with it? What experiences? What type of people?
This post should get your started thinking about the Luna Lovegood, the Strength card, and your own thoughts and reflections on the theme of strength. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to hear any observations you have from the stories or in how this helped you read the Strength card in tarot!
Next week we will explore Remus Lupin as card number IX, The Hermit.
Listen to the podcast episode of Luna as Strength :