The Chariot Artwork Description
“An erect and princely figure carries a drawn sword and corresponds, broadly speaking, to the traditional description…On the shoulders of the victorious hero are supposed to be the Urim and Thummim. He has led captivity captive; he is conquest on all planes—in the mind, in science, in progress, in all trials of initiation. He has thus replied to the sphinx, and it is for this reason that I have accepted the variation of Éliphas Lévi; two sphinxes thus draw his chariot. He is above all things triumph in the mind.” 1
The Chariot Associations
- Alternate Names: Triumphal Chariot, The Charioteer.
- Seven: 7 Control, Innovation.
- Element: Water.
- Rune: Ehwaz “Horse”.
- Crystal/Gem: Rutilated Quartz.
- Kabbalah: Ceth “Fence”.
- Astrological: Cancer.
- Astronomical: Mintaka.
The Chariot Basic Meaning
Progress, movement. Direction, power, and leadership. A vehicle, vessel or ship made for travel (be it physical/metaphorical). To be armored, protected, or encased like that of Cancer the Crab or a warrior. The Chariot is more complicated than it seems—look at complications with a unique perspective (using tricky methods/not straight forward). Overcoming these complications requires solidifying/simplifying matters, identifying one goal, and pressing for its success.
The Chariot Controversies and Observations
“This is represented by the extant codices as being drawn by two sphinxes, and the device accords with the symbolism, but it must not be supposed that this was its original form; the variation was invented to support a particular historical hypothesis. In the eighteenth century white horses were yoked to the chariot. It is really the King in his triumph, typifying, however the victory which creates kingship as its natural consequence and not the vested royalty of the fourth card. M. Court de Gebelin said that it was Osiris Triumphing, the conquering sun in springtime having vanquished the obstacles of winter. We know now that Osiris rising from the dead is not represented by such obvious symbolism. Other animals than horses have also been used to draw the chariot as, for example, a lion and a leopard.” 1
“Meaning: Succour, providence; also war, triumph, presumption, vengence, trouble.
Reversed: Riot quarrel, dispute, litigation, defeat.” 1
“Balance; victory after a struggle; possible purchase of a new vehicle or a vehicle requiring repairs; achievement; success; control; self-discipline; greatness; movement in life/career; travel.” 2
Basic Tarot Symbols: Triumphal “car” (chariot), armored warrior, sun/moon symbols, lingam and yoni symbol (the encircled rod on the winged shield), black and white sphinxes/lions/horses, sometimes at rest. A canopy of stars and sometimes a throne inside the car.
Basic Tarot Meaning: The chariot is one of the most complex cards to define. On its most basic level, it’s about getting what you want. It implies war, a struggle, and an eventual, hard-won victory over enemies, obstacles, nature, the uncertainties inside you. But there is a great deal more to it. The charioteer wears emblems of the sun, yet the sign behind this card is Cancer, the moon. The chariot is all about motion, and yet it is often shown as stationary.
What does this all mean? It means a union of opposites, like the black and white steeds. They pull in different directions, but must be (and can be!) made to go together in one direction. That is perhaps the most important message of the Chariot. Separate the driver form the chariot, the chariot from the horses, the horses from each other and from the driver, and nothing gets done. They all do their own thing. Put them all together, with the same goal in mind, and there will be no stopping them.
Confidence as well as unity of purpose and control is needed, and, most especially, motivation. The card can, in fact, indicate new motivation or inspiration, which gets a stagnant situation moving again. It can also imply, on a more pragmatic level, a trip (usually by car).
Thirteen’s Observations: The Chariot is a fascinating card, but also frustrating to interpret. Like Cancer, the crab, it is about being armored, self-reliant and in command of one’s own destiny. On the battlefield, a chariot is autonomous. It fights alone, not with other troops or cavalry.
Yet the Chariot is also a symbol of unified parts. If any part is missing – chariot, horses, driver – it cannot go.
The crab moves from one plane to the next (water to land and back again) and the Chariot is viewed as moving likewise, from conscious and unconscious, Earthly to spiritual. Also, like chariots, crabs come upon each other from the side rather than straight on. So there is a tricky element to The Chariot for all that it seems to travel in a straight line.
The Chariot is a card of contradictions. It’s about sidewise battles, yet also about full-speed ahead. It’s about the hard exterior and the soft interior, the light and dark, the water and the shore, moon and sun. It is the Sphinx, which is also often a symbol of Cancer, the lion and the man united, a mystery. Yet the Chariot says all these can be united.
The querent who gets this card is likely dealing with a lot of contradictions in their life. Maybe arguing people, or a variety of different feelings. The card says that they must become the driver of the chariot. They must decide on a goal, take control and get all the contradictions to ignore their wants and go where the querent wants.
How can the querent do this? By being confident. The one who has unwavering faith in their convictions is the one who can make others put aside their differences and do as asked. Likewise, such a person can overcome their doubts and uncertainties and achieve victory.
You must have faith that there is nothing that can stand in your way. Note, however, that this unity and the confidence that creates it will last only till victory is achieved. But then, the Chariot isn’t interested in unity for unity’s sake. Only in unity for victory’s sake.
The Chariot is a marvelous card in that it can assure the querent success no matter the odds. But the card also warns that the drive toward this victory might lead to ruthless, diehard behavior, to a desire to win at any cost. The querent should be reminded that winning isn’t everything nor “the only thing.” It is, rather, the start of things.” 3
Axank’s Dream Recollection
December 14-15, 2011