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I’m not an expert on Taoism. The philosophy has been a big part of my world view and how I live life for well over 30 years. It has held true for me and I come back to it time and time and time again. I’ve been reading The Tao Te Ching, I Ching, Alan Watts, Chinliang Al Huang, Deng Ming Dao and more since the 1980s. Taoism predates Tarot for me, which is saying something.
Like Tarot and magick, exoteric Taoist philosophy (I can’t speak for the religious aspects or for esoteric Taoist practices) is broadly inclusive. If you think of the Tao as the multiverse sort of meta-everything then anything written within our universe about it is part of the greater whole and a valid point of view. Therefore, as someone once wrote, everything written about the Tao is canon. Be that as it may – if you are interested in Taoism, go grab a book and have at it. Good stuff, that.
If you want to learn more about the esoteric side of Taoism I highly recommend Benebel Wen’s excellent book The Tao of Craft. It was published just as I was beginning to lay the groundwork for rebranding Modern Oracle Tarot into TaoCraft Tarot. I took it as an omen that I was on the right path even though that path is more on the philosophical, exoteric side of things.
I mention it Taoism because today’s Strength card brings to mind probably one of the most Taoist ideas to come out of a card reading in a while. This deck hasn’t touched the Taoist vibe very much. Speaking of decks, today I’m working from the Alleyman’s Tarot by Seven Dane Asmund. The artwork on this particular card is by Madam Clara for the Five Cent Tarot.
Taoism is about being in harmony with nature. Sure, that means the rocks and flowers and trees and bees kind of nature, but it also means your nature. Taoism is about living in harmony with your authentic self.
Being in harmony with your authentic self doesn’t mean you can’t do better next time. Authentic self does not mean static self. People change. Ideally people grow and mature and hopefully become wiser and kinder as time goes on.
Part of that nature, for some of us, is to be hard wired people pleasers. The idea of strength and weakness and being a better person is often tied to idealism more than realism. The path to being a better person is often fraught with “should” and “ought” and external definitions of good and external measures of character. We tend to want to eradicate or drastically change anything that is considered a weakness or a character flaw.
The major arcana Strength card is all about strength of character, not at all about the physical variety. Internal progress is measured internally, not measured to outside signposts.
It is a strange thing to say consider keeping your weaknesses. Perhaps instead of getting rid of our weaknesses, we should keep them, but learn a new relationship with them. Find and use the good aspects.
Repurposing a weakness into something beneficial still gets rid of the so-called weakness. It is a strange sort of keeper, to hold on to what some people might label as weakness. Transforming our downfalls into superpowers is a Strength all of its own.
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