Musings On The Chariot

How often have you thrown yourself into something only to find out you should have done more research… you should have waited a bit longer? What were the consequences of your hasty decision? Would you have chosen differently if you had taken a few more moments to think?

rws_chariotHow often have you thrown yourself into something only to find out you should have done more research… you should have waited a bit longer? What were the consequences of your hasty decision? Would you have chosen differently if you had taken a few more moments to think? These are what I see as the moments when our personal Chariots took over. We were not in control.

Let’s muse on the Chariot. Very often a deck will pull me in because of how the Chariot is portrayed. Take the Chariot in the Fradella Adventure Tarot. This Chariot is a motorcycle roaring at us straight off the card. There is a bit of muck in the foreground, but the front wheel is slicing through it with minimal problems. The charioteer is a huge black man with a determined look on his face. His trench coat flies out behind him as he grips the bike firmly between his legs. Both of his hands hold blazing weapons. This is a man who is large and in charge and going somewhere. Getting in his way is not an option. He is on a mission and will mow down anyone in the way.

A gentler version exists in the Tarot Of The Old Pathtotp_mastery2. Here our chariot is a white man in a stylized chariot holding a four-in-hand. That refers to the fact that the driver controls all four horses by himself. This was (and still is) considered to be quite the accomplishment in driving skills. He doesn’t need the second driver that often went with four horses. The horses themselves are representatives of the four elements, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. He represents the ability to master the elements themselves.

Then in the World Spirit Tarot, our Charioteer is a cocoa-colored man. He holds a spear as he leans forward. There is chariota soft smile on his face as he looks at the two zebra hippogriffs pulling him. His chariot is moving from land to water. He is trusting the beasts that pull him. Trusting the journey is another aspect of the Chariot.

In my newest deck The Fifth Tarot, which I highly recommend, the Chariot is pulled by the horses and dolphins of the waves. The Charioteer appears to be white with a purple flowing headpiece. He holds an ankh up to the sky. He has no fear of where he is going and rises to the highest possible place. An ominous skulls floats in the water with its skeletal hand reaching for the waves of horses and dolphins. His chariot bears an emblem on the front.

Quite often I see the Chariot as the physical vehicle we drive. It is our car–our bike–our scooter–our skateboard. But it is also our physical self that we hurtle through life. Sometimes we are like that biker of the Frank Fradella Adventure Tarot. We rush headlong knowing we are in the right. Other times we are the charioteer of the World Spirit Tarot–content to let the journey carry us to the next spot.

The Chariot is associated with Cancer and mastery of self. For me the lesson of the Chariot is not so much to charge headlong into things as it is to go for it whole-heartedly once you have made the decision. But make the decision first. Don’t let the Chariot decision drag you into a unsafe place. Hold on to the reins and guide your own life.

5 thoughts on “Musings On The Chariot”

  1. Hi Arwen:
    I love your comparative tarot studies–with the various nuances you define in your discussions of individual depictions/interpretations. I like the fact that you chose such different renditions of the chariot, each having their unique appeal and symbolic relevance. The chariot card is a fascinating one because I think we all feel waves of full-steam ahead, but are often afraid to fully exercise those desires to push forward. At the same time, our tendency for self preservation often dictates that we proceed with caution. Given that my Black Belt name is “Wildhorse”, I’ve always been one to jump on the horse and gallop towards unknown pastures, despite risks associated with the ride. Life is too short to hesitate. Another great post, Arwen!

    Lisa Hunt´s last blog post..Creating the Fairy Tale Tarot: From Idea to Publication (pt 2)

  2. I often see the chariot as a reminder to try and steer a steady course between what we want to do and what we feel we should do. I also see it as a nudge to remember that charging ahead can often lead one up the wrong path.

    I too, liked your comparisons, and it is of course which chairot we are looking at that determines how we might interpret it. I have just written about the Deviant Moon Chariot and that strong little tin man reminds me also of another quality of the chariot, and that is determination, willpower and courage.

    I particulary like the Rider Waite chariot card with all its symbolism and its reminder to us that life does have to be lived on the physical plane and cannot be a total inner journey.

    Thanks for this article Arwen and a chance to reflect again on this card.

    Helen´s last blog post..Deviant Moon – The Empress

  3. I often see the chariot as a moment of decision, an on-off switch, a time for a yes-no, left-right type decision, a decision between two options. Because the Charioteer usually has to control two powerful animals, each with a mind if their own, it indicates a time to make that two-way decision, then use firmness of character to pull the other impulse into line and travel in the chosen direction.

    I am between cars as the moment, but I have a plan for my next vehicle. I’ll be colour-photocopying the Chariot card from every deck I own, laminating the photocopies, and affixing them to my next Chariot. Well, why not? If you want forward momentum, motive energy, what better symbol? And driving a car, like driving an archetypal Chariot, involves making quick and final decisions and controlling forces that are far stronger than you are.

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