In the Chariot card and the Strength card we see humans depicted with animals. They could represent literally dealing with animals or our own animal natures. Human beings are composed of a combination of intellectual, spiritual and physical (animal) forces. Comparing and contrasting these two cards illustrates two different ways to handle these forces. The male/female difference between the two cards may also signify our own anima/animus or masculine/feminine drives.
The Chariot card shows a strong, young warrior in a gold chariot. The stars of the heaven with Moons on his shoulders and a big star (the Sun?) above his head which bears a laurel.
“A wreath of laurel conferred as a mark of honor in ancient times upon poets, heroes, and victors in athletic contests.”1 He has mastered his strengths and weaknesses and uses his mastery to pull himself forward in life. He is empowered to reach his goals, through strength and bravery when this card is upright and unafflicted.
The Strength card shows a woman in white (purity, our higher nature) and she holds the mouth of a huge beast which submits to her will. She has the sign of infinity (lemniscate) above her head. Like the Chariot, she symbolizes great courage but unlike the Chariot, she uses gentle persuasion. Where the Chariot seems to rush, she appears patient. She doesn’t hold the lion on a leash or have him pulling her cart, she gently, lovingly handles him.
The beast, a lion, could symbolize a struggle with addictions, another person or situation. Whatever the lion represents, it is fierce and could be deadly. However, she has soothed the situation and brought it under control. Not by attacking and killing it or trying force her will on it but by carefully attending to it.
She shows that we can control our most ferocious inclinations with some tender loving care. She does not wear a wreath of laurel, she does not seek, or receive, accolades for her achievement which may be greater than that of the chariot in many ways.
Both of these cards may represent how we can go about using our will to master our strengths and weaknesses.
If these cards appear in a reading, they may be advising you how to best achieve what you want. Either by some more masculine energy or exercising discipline (Chariot) or via our feminine energies (Strength), being more gentle, receptive in dealing with a situation.