A woman with a lemniscate hovering over her head, a lion.
Basic Tarot Story
The Fool, victorious over his enemies, is feeling arrogant, powerful, even vengeful. There is a hot passion in him that he can barely control. It is in this state that he comes across a maiden struggling with a lion. Running to help, he arrives in time to see her gently but firmly shut the lion's mouth! In fact, the beast, which seemed so wild and fierce a moment ago, is now completely at her command.
Amazed, the Fool asks her, "How did you do that?" One hand on the lion's mane, she answers, "Will power. Any beast, no matter how wild, will back down before a superior will." At that moment, the Maiden meets the Fool's eyes; though saintly and young, her look is knowing and filled with great power. "Likewise," she says to him, "there are many unworthy impulses inside us. It is not wrong to have them. But it is wrong to let them control us. We are human, not beast, and we can command such energy, use them for higher purposes." His rage quieted, the Fool nods, enlightened, and walks away knowing that it wasn't only the lion who was tamed this day by a Maiden's pure and innocent strength.
Basic Tarot Meaning
Like its ruling sign Leo, 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 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.
Wang in the 'Qabbalistic Tarot' likens to the Strength card, at one point, to a Vestal Virgin tending a sacred flame. And this, I think, is one of the best interpretations. Fire is a fearful thing, hot, burning, all too easily able to spark out of control. But somewhere along the way, we lost our fear - but not our respect - for fire. And with will and intelligence, we made it our tool. And I think it worth understanding and saying to the Querent, that as with fire or taming a lion, you might get burned or scratched a few time by that which you're trying to control, be it a situation, a person or your own unworthy impulses. The important message of the strength card is not to give up. To have the courage to keep at it till you succeed and to have the faith and optimism that you will succeed.