8 Strength: Kitty Pryde
“Only the weak are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong.” ~Leo Buscaglia
Today we continue our look at the Major Arcana of the Tarot through the lens of Marvel’s X-Men comic book characters! Thus far we have discussed Professor X as the Magician, Storm as the High Priestess, Jean Grey as the Empress, Cyclops as the Emperor, Nightcrawler as the Hierophant, Rogue as the Lovers, and Wolverine as the Chariot! Today we showcase the intangible Kitty Pryde as Strength!
Kitty Pryde was only thirteen years old when she began manifesting intense migraines that heralded the emergence of her mutant powers. Kitty found that she was able to become intangible and could “phase” through solid matter. Her powers also allowed her to walk on air, disrupt machines with her ghost form and render anything or anyone she touches intangible as well.
Kitty displayed unshakable resolve in her first outing with the X-Men when she rescued them from the Hellfire Club. Over time, she continually showed great courage in the face of outstanding odds, especially when confronted with Emma Frost, the White Queen, who wanted Kitty to join her Massachusetts Academy.
However, Kitty liked being at Xavier’s School. Her powers had terrified her when they first appeared, but over time she learned how to make peace with her mutant identity. Kitty quickly befriended Storm and in time would regard her as a mother figure. She quickly developed a crush on Colossus and their relationship eventually developed into a full fledged romance. Kitty was initially quite scared of the demonic looking Nightcrawler and the brash persona of Wolverine, but over time she got past their outer appearances to find their heroic hearts. Both men would end up being like family to Kitty. By the time her parent’s divorced, Kitty had a new support system within the X-Men.
In the Tarot, Strength is the symbol of gentle compassion. We learn from Strength how to recognize our demons and make peace with them. Kitty’s first solo fight was with a N’Garai demon that infiltrated the X-Mansion over the winter holidays. Kitty was all alone at the mansion while the X-Men picked up her parents from the airport to surprise her. In the battle, Kitty’s powers did not work. However, she found a way to defeat the demon even though she leveled half of the mansion in the process. This was quite a triumph for the youngest member of the X-Men.
Years later, Kitty was brainwashed by the ninja master Ogun who trained her in the martial arts and sent her to kill Wolverine. In the end, Kitty had to fiercely fight to reclaim her identity and was unable to kill Ogun as recompense for his crimes. Kitty understood that if she killed Ogun, it would have a victory tantamount to defeat.
Kitty’s close friendship with Wolverine symbolizes the quest of finding forgiveness within oneself. When we are strong we do not push our fears away. Instead, we own them and work on taming them to work for us. Strength is the inner desire to endure and triumph. Kitty represents this thematic idea over and over again.
Even Lockheed, her alien dragon companion, stands as a symbol for the beast within much like the woman in the Strength card is taming a lion with her inner fortitude. Kitty attracted Lockheed into her life with her willpower and bravery and together they successfully fought off a duo of Sidri aliens.
Kitty is often written as the voice of compassion. In New Mutants #45 (first volume), Kitty meets a boy named Larry Bodine at a dance mixer. She befriends him and starts to think he might be worth getting to know better, but then Larry tells a racist joke about mutants in a desperate attempt to “fit in” and Kitty breaks off contact. Larry was secretly being bullied by his classmates who threatened to reveal him as a mutant to the authorities. Although these bullies had no idea that Larry actually was a mutant, their torment leads him to commit suicide. Kitty gives an inspirational speech at Larry’s funeral in which she decries labels and the pain and separation that accompany them.
When events go poorly, it is easy to become angry. However, dealing calmly with frustration takes great inner fortitude. Strength teaches us to accept ourselves as well as others. We do this by forgiving ourselves and others for any mistakes that have been made. We find the compassion within and allow it to grow.
Strength is solid and reliable. Kitty may have started off as an impetuous thirteen year old member of the Xavier’s School but over the years she has matured into a leader, a teacher and advocate for mutant rights. After a long tenure as a member of the X-Men, Kitty was also a mainstay of the X-Men spin-off team Excalibur. Other members came and went but Kitty helped form the group, maintained membership and assisted in making the decision to break up the team in the end. She rejoined the X-Men and later took a sabbatical after her father was killed by a Sentinel attack in Genosha.
Recently she joined Wolverine’s Jean Grey School as headmistress, finding her own mastery and authority as she guided the time-displaced original X-Men. It seemed a good fit for Kitty and even her students referred to her as Professor K. However, Kitty seems to be lacking the gentle touch of strength of late, even lashing out at Storm and Wolverine for wanting to send the time-displaced original X-Men back to their proper timeline after the finale of the X-Men crossover, Battle for the Atom. Kitty’s compassion for her young charges may have blinded her momentarily to the fact that Strength softens force with benevolence. It achieves its aims through persuasion with the intention of love. Here’s to hoping that Kitty once again learns the lesson of inner strength.
Next week we will investigate which member of the X-Men best represents the archetype of The Hermit!
If you would like to see how the archetypes of the X-Men and the Tarot can give you insight into your personal narrative, contact me for a Heroic Tarot reading! You can choose between an X-Men or a Traditional reading!
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Artwork in this post by Kevin Wada, John Byrne, Paul Smith, Paul Smith, Kevin Wada, Alan Davis and John Cassaday, respectively.