In the French Tarot, the word for this card is "La Force." Now for a little synchronicity:
I have a somewhat odd relationship to this imagery.
In grade school, my mother gave me a greeting card of a blonde girl with a lion, which strongly evoked this image. Similar to the meaning of tarot card #8, she describes me, accurately or not, with Aesop's fable of a contest between wind and sun. Each strives to see who can make the man on the road remove his coat first. The sun won through gentle persuasion. It was not the cold and ragged wind.
While in therapy during high school, my Jungian psychologist gave me a card of another blonde girl, her arms wrapped around a lion. She felt it represented me, and my mother was, partly, the lion.
The first time I ever had a tarot reading was on a Portland city bus - this strange girl was learning to read them, and wanted to pull the cards which "represent" me. Among others, I got the Magician, The High Priestess, and Strength and the Empress (both are the same woman). Since then, I get those cards pretty consistently in readings. It's a big deck.
In my bedroom hangs a print of a favorite painting, Henri Rousseau's Sleeping Gypsy. Bought it at the MOMA when I was in NYC in '98. It's of a woman lying in the desert under an open sky and crescent moon. Beside her is a lute; wandering minstrel is the meaning of my last name. A lion stands over her as she sleeps. My connection to that work is rather strong; it brought me to tears when saw it for the first time. That's an uncommon experience, though I had the same reaction to Picasso's Guernica. I only recognized the relationship to the strength card imagery about a year ago.
If you open up the "Birthday Book," which is an astrological-numerological interpretation of your birth date, a tarot card is given. Mine is the Strength card.
Last week, I wasted a bit more of my life by taking the "which tarot card are you?" test. It's random. You type in your name. Still, I got the Strength card.
Interpretation of the card reads:
"This is a card of courage and energy. It represents both the Lion's hot, roaring energy, and the Maiden's steadfast will. The innocent Maiden is unafraid, undaunted, and indomitable. In some cards she opens the lion's mouth, in others she shuts it. Either way, she proves that inner strength is more powerful than raw physical strength. That forces can be controlled and used to score a victory is very close to the message of the Chariot, which might be why, in some decks, it is Justice that is card 8 (the sign of the Infinite) instead of Strength. This card assures the Querent that they can control not only the situation, but themselves. It is a card about anger and impulse management, about creative answers, leadership and maintaining one's personal honor. It can also stand for a steadfast friend."
Either I am like this lady, or need to learn to be like her. Perhaps it's both.
What does it all mean? Don't say nothing, because nothing comes from nothing. Ex nihilo nihil fit.