XI – Strength
Sally Anne Stephen
The Color Purple
So many of the traditional interpretations and keywords for the Strength card personify the character of
Celie in this story. Finding one's way to meet adverse force head on with benevolence and compassion is
indeed a central theme throughout. And as we discover, the strongest souls don't always win the match
by overpowering the will, but quite often countering with an unexpected reaction is what ends up
subverting the opponent's advantage. Celie keeps her innocent spirit safely tucked away among the words
of her letters and despite the many unbearable circumstances she faces along her road, she somehow
manages to persevere through a substantial part of it without any conscious sense of her own self-worth.
Finding love and understanding, reconciling the forces of the past - with others in her life as well
as herself, finally frees Celie's heart and allows her to discover and embrace her personal power.
The card's image shows us a woman whose life story can be accurately gauged by the depth of her
expression, occasionally pausing to read between the lines in her face and finding solace among hopes
and dreams as could only be seen though her eyes. Always at her side, the young girl that she never
really got to be, yet to whom she remains true in her heart. The iron shackles symbolic of another
era of oppression have come loose, no longer holding the spirit captive. And should we ever need to
find our own Strength within, a reminder to notice the color purple as we pass by the fields.
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