Strength

Beauty and her Beast

The damsel. But not the victim.

More like, radical softness.

Strength is the oxymoronic story of the weak but beautiful prey beguiling the mighty predator into submission.

Strength is Brave. Out of anger and spite, Merida turns her mother into a bear. A similar curse had befallen a prince, legend transformed this bear into something mythical, unbeatable, like a great Chariot, Merida’s mother seemed sealed, forever to left to her fate to rage and rage with no respite. Except :: “Mend the bond torn by pride.” The curse can be flattened with love, not war. Gentle forgiveness, not brute strength.

Steven Universe :: Rose Quartz and her pride of snuggle lions.

Lion, then, and his devotion to Steven.

Pearl facing Sugalite and winning. From that episode ::

Steven Universe :: Strong in the Real Way. Rebecca Sugar.

Strength is the gentility of tactics. Using your brain instead of your fists. Diplomacy, compromise, an understanding.

The King of Swords respects lady Strength.

Patience and fortitude are this girl’s calling. (Patience and fortitude :: the symbolism behind ovaries.)

Lady Strength is the archetypal dead/sleeping princess trope. 

Beauties slept in their woods, waiting for princes to come and wake them up. In their bed, in their glass coffins, in their childhood forests like dead women. Beautiful, but passive; hence desirable: all mystery emanates from them. It is men who like to play dolls…The secret of her beauty, kept for him: she has the perfection of something finished. Or not begun. However, she is breathing. Just enough life – and not too much. Then he will kiss her. So that when she opens her eyes she will see only him; him in place of everything, all-him.” (Hélène Cixous)

Listen to Franz Schubert. String Quartet No. 14 in D Minor. Death and the Maiden.

Waite names our belle Astraea (whom will see later again as the Star) :: Astraea is the eternal virgin, the goddess of purity and innocence. Aestraea was said to have left the world until she could return to bring utopia to humanity. Innocentua inviolata. That garland of flowers around her waist is “the sweet yolk and divine burden of Divine Law.” 

She is the first in the maiden-mother-crone coven. 

In Waite’s purview, Astraea is the Victorian Angel in the House, expected to be devoted and submissive to her husband.

But, she is Persephone, our perpetual daughter, the Goddess of Eternal Spring, shacking up with daddy death. She keeps him under control. But back on earth, while she dances with Death, her mother weeps, lost in her grief Demeter neglects the crops, all the plants whither and die in the cold dead winter :: there ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone. The thing is, Hades is not Satan and he relents. He lets her return to the land of the living, so long as she agrees to return and spend half of every year in the underworld with him. She agrees. This is why we have winter.

Disney’s Silly Symphony :: The Goddess Of Spring.

Her role is necessary. The embodiment of the very idea that the Empress calms the Emperor.

Like the Magician, her background color is yellow. Things are coming up right for her. Sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows everywhere. She is Cyrene, handmaiden to Artemis, who one day, finds herself struggling against a lion. Bare-handed, she wins. Bewitched, Apollo (the sun: all that yellow behind her) spirits her away to paradise.

She is Snow White, who tends to all of the little animals in the forest. She understands them and the dwarves and loves them all on a maternal level.

She’s Belle who tames her beau and tenderizes his instinct.

Nausicaä too, because radical kindness will save us all. 

She’s Sansa Stark. Madame de Tourvel. Eliza Hamilton. 

The Strength card is the opposite of a knight: no fire, just love. The lion is her fire.

St. Augustine likened the bear and the lion with the Devil : “Who is figured in these beasts, because of the bear’s strength in its paw and the lion’s in its mouth.”

Looked at this way, Astraea’s task is to tame male lust and tenderize the animal instinct.

Blondeness is an index of the virgin’s youth as well as innocence. Blonde hair implies pale skin, which in turn entails lack of exposure, again on a doubled level, either to the rays of the sun in outdoor work or to the gaze of others.” (Marina Warner)

In the first episodes of  My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, we get each of the mane six’s archetypal reveal, each pony personifies one essential ingredient to the greatest magic in all of Equestria: friendship magic. Fluttershy is our Strength. She is the “weakest” pony, the pale yellow pony, her element is kindness. When the scary manticore threatens their expedition it was Fluttershy who saves them. Fluttershy saw that the manticore was in pain, she nursed him to health. Fluttershy is very timid, and down-right does not like extreme social situations (her inverse, Pinkie Pie/laughter (Page of Wands), is her foil, voiced by the same woman too), but despite her perpetual anxiety, Fluttershy is not a coward.

I’mma further this theory by stressing, also, her friendship with Discord, a chimerical chaotic Devil. This pair is a Beauty and the Beast fan fiction favorite.

Looking down Death’s gullet stirs Belle. Because at the heart of Beauty and the Beast is not friendship, but carnality, the dangerous side of sex. 

The beast is male desire incarnate. He embodies the Eros figure as phallic toy.” (Warner) 

This primal narrative was Angel Carter’s recurrent muse, the essence of her Bloody Chamber :: “And I saw myself, suddenly, as he saw me, my pale face, the way the muscles in my neck stuck out like thin wire. I saw how much that cruel necklace became me. And, for the first time in my innocent and confined life, I sensed in myself a potentiality for corruption that took my breath away.

Belles are the type of girls who like them some fuckboys, your Flynn Ryders and froggy lothario, Prince Naveen too.

The moral is also that the beast is also just a man, a human transformed as punishment for his temper, his ugly, snobby rage. Belle sees the good in the beast man though. She sees him as worthy of the work it’s going to take to domesticate him. She forgives him his angry fits. She sees him like a child.

Strength is the end of Beyoncé’s Lemonade :: All Night :: the way she forgives her husband.

The lion could also represent your own demons, the beast inside.

And the only way to tame those demon mfs is to lull them to sleep. Tickle under their chins just like all cats like. Don’t disregard your darkness. Court it. Use it to make you greater. (There’s a little Chariot inside this pacifist flower.)

Think of the Bride, Beatrix Kiddo, in Kill Bill. She waited, and waited, and then she faced death, and won. In killing the father, the daughter gets to live and become the mother.

Bibliography

The Book of Symbols; Reflections on Archetypal Images. ✨ From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers. Marina Warner. ✨The Newly Born Woman. Hélène Cixous and Catherine Clément.✨ The Bloody Chamber. Angela Carter.

Writing Exercises

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