The Neophyte has travelled a long way from the hapless youth in Atu I, and in the card Strength VIII has moved from a temporal to a liminal landscape. We see the transformation of the proud Charioteer to a young woman, her purity is symbolized by her white vestments, simple dress and her flower garlands suggest modesty and unity with the natural world. The lemniscate (symbol of infinity) is no longer merely a potential, as in The Magician’s hat, but is now incorporated into her very being, like the halo of Christian iconography. This Atu represents spiritual power, but it is not used for selfish ends. The Priestess shows compassion to the ‘King of the Beasts’ and reminds us of the tale of Andrlocles, who removes the thorn from the lions paw. The Magician now has real force, and has sublimated her Nesphesh (Kabbalistic animal soul) and Ruach (ego) to the service of the Neschamah (higher self). She shows in her fearlessness that she will use her Strength, not to take revenge on those who have wronged her, or abuse her new-found abilities to harm or punish but to protect herself from the attacks of others!
The number eight is an important number in Magick, it represents the Altar of the double cube and is ‘Hod’ on the Tree of Life, the Sephira of Mercury, Hermes and Tahuti, the Ibis headed God of the Mysteries. The path has taken the Aspirant to a crossroads and she has chosen service to others, she is transforming, from the naive magician of Atu I, through the proud and powerful warrior of the Charioteer VII to a disciplined and virtuous woman. She has forsaken Severity for Mercy. Her life is no longer preoccupied with fleeting transience and her past has been obliterated in the fire of Sekhmet, the combination of woman and lioness who exists in a realm inaccessible to all but the purest, most dedicated of seekers. The card Strength VIII marks a new stage in the development of The Magician. She has left all that no longer serves her Higher Self behind and begs the question, “If you are NOT your ego, who are you?”