A.E.Waite, the fellow who commissioned this art, also called this card ‘Fortitude’. The word recalls to me ‘intestinal fortitude’ or just plain guts. As in: The Strength to do what is impossible because it is necessary, and to accomplish it flawlessly.
The woman is a Goddess, obviously. Crowned with immortality by the infinity symbol above her, she stands larger than life upon the landscape, as does the fearsome lion. Hers is the patience found within the unlimited control of her indomitable, loving, will.
This image does not show brute force to me ~ rather, it looks as if the Goddess enjoys a “good kitty” visit with a Goddess-sized cat! And yet…
There is no room for error. It is not a tame lion she plays with, but the woman manages to control the situation by keeping one move ahead of the great beast. Some say she holds the cat’s jaws closed, and some say she scratches his chin. I think she does both.
In Alchemy, the golden lion symbolizes a base metal’s ultimate transmutation into gold. She could use force, but she has more than that at her disposal now. Using also her wits, strength of will, and the magick of infinity, she keeps mastery over the heart-pounding moment.
Making it look easy is a must. Otherwise, the lion would smell fear and respond in a dangerously unpleasant fashion. She must breathe, and try to understand what motivates the beast. Is there perhaps a thorn in its paw? Does it simply want a chin scratching? Let intuition guide you for the moment and perhaps later there will be a relaxing cup of tea when the lion finally looses interest and wanders off. For now, breathe… the unlimited, gentle Strength of this Goddess is yours.
Images from The Smith-Waite Tarot Centennial Edition Deck are used in this blog. They feature the artist, Pamela Colman Smith’s, original coloring and lovely back design. The cards are a bit oversized and printed on sturdy cardstock. This deck is one of my personal favorites. =:->AD
Rider-Waite images used with permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902. c. 1971 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.