The card I pulled today was the 8 of the Major Arcana.
I'm putting it that way because the 8 and 11 sometimes switch places, depending on the deck (which is funny, if you're into numerology at all - part of the tarot course I'm taking involves finding your "birth card" using numerology. My birth card is the 8 of the Major Arcana, which means - like Scorpio technically having two guiding planets rather than one - I have two birth cards: Strength and Justice).

In my Osho Zen deck, the 8 is Courage, and it corresponds to the Strength card in the traditional deck. So I pulled the Strength card from the DotM deck (which doesn't give its "Suit of Aether" cards Hierarchical Numbers), and then - not knowing my new deck too well at all - I pulled the 8 of the Major Arcana (The Stag) from my WildWood deck.
Which, as it turns out, is actually the Justice card for that deck. I had to shuffle through and find the 11 card (The Woodward) and use it, instead.

In the OZ deck, the "strength" card is called Courage, and is depicted as a flower that has pushed through concrete (or maybe just stone, but either way), that is thrivingin adversity. It makes me think of the chorus of that song by P!nk - "You gotta get up and try", and of Terry Pratchett's description of the heartbeat of the land, a million tonnes of sap shooting skyward, and how life was a force so powerful it could drive a mushroom-soft toadstool through six inches of pavement. Power doesn't have to be brutal, doesn't even have to look big or pushy. It can be just getting through every day, every day, every day. It can be soft and delicate and thrive anyway.

The WW "strength" card looks at things (I think - at least on the surface) from a very different angle: The WoodWard makes me think of Starhawk's concept of "Power With", and the understanding that humans don't work "with" or "against" nature, but that "we are nature, working".

The DotM card - which I can't seem to find an online image of (sorry) - draws pretty directly on the "traditional" image of a woman and a lion, though in this case (rather than showing the woman in the position of, effectively, "lion tamer"), the two characters are depicted as trusting each other & hanging out together.

It's funny. So far, the cards I've been drawing have all had a certain degree of relevance for the other tarot-connected (but not exactly tarot-focused) I'm doing, my Queen of Cups Project, wherein I'm trying to DIY-therapy myself into being less of a scaredy cat, to say Yes more, to take risks and try new things and go after what I want, and all the rest of that stuff. The day I pulled the Courage card, I actually needed to see it.

It's Amber Dawn's blend of "tough and tender" (if that lady has a personal brand, that's it right there, and she does it very well). It's all that Brene Brown stuff about Getting Vulnerable as an act of courage and daring and Going In Anyway (that you have to keep doing over and over again).

If I consider the Woodward card, though, I see "strength" as a defender, as part of a whole, as watchful (maybe "attentive"?) but relaxed. This is reflected in the DotM card, the idea that this person is part of her environment, needs to be aware of that. And that reminds me of what Morpheus, over at Banshee Arts, said about sovereignty and how understanding how to recognize (and fend off) a real threat makes it possible for one to recognize, also, that which is NOT a threat, how knowing how to hold your ground and having the capacity to do so, means that you get a better idea of when it's safe to NOT be on the defensive.

If I try to synthesize these two elements, I get...
Just Say Yes
Recognize where the actual threats are and where they are not
Recognize you can handle this, even if it's hard (or even if it just feels hard)
Try again, then again, then again (just keep swimming, just keep swimming)
The heart of "courage" is literally a heart, ta coeur. A million tonnes of sap shooting skyward, strong enough to coax a mushroom through concrete unscathed. An organ the size of a tardis, bigger on the inside, big enough to hold everything it needs to contain.
Calmness in the midst of The Hard Stuff; Gentleness, too, to a point [I've seen "compassion" turn up a couple of times in relation to this card, so we'll see if it's reflected anywhere else]
You are part of your environment, recognize how (and that) you affect it, how it affects you, how you blend & how you remain distinct; Stuff doesn't happen in a vacuum [I see this in these cards, but I'm actually kind of unsure as to whether or not that's accurate or if my own biases are reeeeeeeally effecting things here]
From the Woodward and the DotM version of Strength, I also get the suggestion - pretty personal for me, but maybe also applicable to others - that it's possible to be a hunter, a preditor, without being All Dangerous, All Violent, All The Time. I kind of want to think on that bit a little more, but it's in there.
Self-Kindness, being gentle with yourself, not beating yourself up when you're having trouble wrangling your internal/situational Stuff (I... don't actually know why, but I'm throwing it in here. I blame the self-help books I've been reading of late. Don't mind me).

As far as stuff that I've picked up from other sources:
Soothing the Savage Beast (calming your own wildness/flailiness, calm in the heart of chaos)
Stepping outside the bounds of the familiar and into the wild/unknown/new; taking risks, being brave/bold (saying Yes with all your heart)
Getting the hang of your situation, figuring out how to handle The Thing
Taking on new challenges
Being chill, keeping your head in a stressful situation, being steady in a crisis, being a Rock for people around you when they're freaking out
Taking control of a situation without using force or coersion to do so
Happy, fulfilling, well-balanced Power Exchange relationships [which, okay, is NOT something that my reading has mentioned, but IS something that came to mind when I considered the relationship between the lady and the lion, and how the lady is In Charge and so is looking after and watching out for the lion, and the lion is happy to be in her charge, to have her harness hir power]
Not letting The Wanting run rough-shod over everything (again, this is ringing a little too relevant for me right now, but hey: Not a bad thing)
Personal willpower, working your Will on yourself rather than external situations
Compassion (see above), love & patience
Gentle influence; Being in (or offering) a safe & trusting environment
Not letting yourself be pre-occupied with fear
Love + Kindness + Courage of the Heart = Your whole Self coming into alignement, being able to thrive
Confidence against self-doubt
You can do The Thing! (Thanks, Tiny Potato!)
Don't rush things, don't over-push yourself - small, consistent steps are more effective in terms of Actually Getting There (wherever/whatever "there" happens to be) than jumping the gun, sprinting, and running out of breath half-way through
Endurance/Resolve/Triumph Over Adversity
"Soft Control" (possibly better stated as "influence", "power with"/"working with", and even "benevolent dictatorship" as per Good Parenting & Good Dominance)
Meeting people (including yourself) where they are at, not where they "should" or "could" be
Do not despair! You will get through this!

Other Stuff to Think About
So the 8 of the major arcana coresponds to the 8s in the other tarot suits[1]. Because the 8 doesn't always have the same meaning/symbol set, that's maybe less relevant (or at least more muddy) for this card than for others, but I'm going to talk about the Eights a little bit anyway.
See, the 8s of the elemental suits are one of the "plateau" or "leveling up" cards in each suit (see also: 4 & 10, while the 6s are more like a "landing" between two levels).
If the 4s are about having developed both a solid foundation on which to continue building AND an understanding of what resources are actually available to you (within you, from around you, etc), the 8s are about personal power, knowing what you need to release and knowing (or at least figuring out) both where you need to go and that you have the capacity to get there. The 8 of Air is all about inner turmoil, beating yourself up, guilt, shame, and refusing to grant yourself even a moment of peace, kindness, or compassion. It's powerlessness and drowning in the overwhelm of it all. The 8 of Water is letting things go, it's peaceful endings rather than raging against the dying of the light (or the relationship, or the steady income, or whatever other Unfairness Of It All is happening right now). It's the idea that "this, too, shall pass" (which is, effectively, "you got through it... now stop letting it run your life"). It's personal truths (not always easy ones) and self-discovery. It's being willing to learn and grow and, therefore, change. The 8 of of Fire is action & activity, figuring things out, taking risks and trying to new things. It's "Now we're getting somewhere". It's allertness and bieng aware of your options. Sometimes it's literally going somewhere new and different, taking a physical journey. It's the push that gets the mushroom through the concrete. It's the "Excelsior!" of resolving to get through the Hard Thing, and then getting on with it. It's the initial "Yes" that starts the adventure moving. The 8 of Earth (almost by contrast) is the incremental growth that gets the mushroom through the concrete bit by bit. It's the million steps of that journey (physical or otherwise) between the first and the arrival. It's the day-to-day breathing through while you did into your personal lizard brain and learn (again and again) to calm yourself down, to deal with your personal Flailing (without having a massive splatter-radius that gets everyone else caught up in Endless Processing), to trust, to do what needs doing through making small but steady and consistent incriments of progress. It's "shared down time" and "grocery shopping", it's "words on the page, one after another", it's "getting everyone's boots on" and "putting dinner on the table" and realizing, over time, that you're quite cable of All The Things after all. It's the solid and steady and consistent that makes trust(ing) not feel like jumping off a cliff with no parachute. It's the follow-up (follow-through) to saying, or recieving, that Yes. The Eight is the house that you build on the foundation of the Four.
And all of those elements are built into the 8 of MA as Strength.
Relevant? I think so.

Anyway. That's my schpiel about Courage/The Woodward/Strength.
Thoughts? Questions? Considerations?


[1]The 8 of the MA (and the other 8s, for that matter) also connects with the 18 of the MA - The Moon. Which is all your lizard-brain stuff, the cycles and patterns you keep repeating over and over and over, sometimes failing to see the pattern because the context keeps changing, sometimes reliving the pattern in spite of very different contexts. It's gut/knee-jerk reaction - which sometimes means making a LOT of assumptions based on previous experiences, but other times means paying attention to what your instincts, your intuition, your deep self-knowledge (the unconscious mind that knows waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more than the conscious/talking mind wants to admit) has to tell you. It can go either way.
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