Tarot: The Chariot

Tarot: The Chariot

Tarot: The Chariot

The Chariot is a dynamic card full of passion and forward movement. The imagery celebrates the charioteer’s ability to yield to the wisdom of the High Priestess while harnessing the wild power of desire and raw emotion. When our feelings are left unchecked, we become easily blinded to our greater purpose. When the heart, the body, and the mind are in sync, we are able to effectively navigate the road ahead. 

The imagery of this card draws from the wisdom of an ancient Hindu parable. In this teaching the driver is seen as a symbol of the “self” and the chariot as the body. The animals yoked to the cart symbolize the dual natures of desire and emotion. The reins represent the power of the mind to control and direct these powerful feelings toward a common goal. Using mental discipline, the driver is able to deftly maneuver his chariot around any obstacle with agility and purpose. 

There is no driving force like desire in union with focused action. The Chariot reminds us of the incredible things that can be achieved with clarity of mind and a passionate heart.

Major Arcana Symbolism

Tarot Card NameThe Chariot
Traditional Card ImageryA man in a wheeled vehicle
Traditional SymbolismMastery, ambition, self-control, progress, control, direction, triumph, battle, forward movement, the persona (ego), progress, charging toward your goal, the expression of passion through hard work and determination
Card NumberVII, 7
Classical ElementWater
Traditional Upright MeaningVictory, willpower, bridled desire, determination, success, activism, overcoming obstacles, mastery, direction, fortitude, self-control, focused action, forward movement, poise, purpose, eye on the prize
Traditional Reversed Meaning
Lack of control, opposition, overwhelmed by conflicting desire or emotions, stagnation, stonewall, lack of focus, mindless indulgence, discouragement, out of control, lack of direction, chaos, delay, indecision, distraction
Archetype In NatureTechnical man, overcoming the wilderness and exploiting nature as a resource
ChakraSacral
Astrological CorrespondenceCancer, Moon
Yes or NoYes
Crystals and StonesCitrine, Brown Tourmaline, Orange Calcite, Amber, Boulder Opal, Orange Tiger’s Eye, Tangerine Quartz, Cognac Diamond, Orange Tourmaline, Chocolate Opal, Coral, Hyacinth, Petrified Wood, Orange Selenite, Smoky Quartz, Peach Moonstone, Axinite, Carnelian, Sunstone, Dunilite
The Chariot

Allegory of The Chariot

I saw a chariot drawn by two sphinxes, one white. the other black. Four pillars supported a blue canopy, on which were scattered five-pointed stars. The Conqueror, clad in steel armour, stood under this canopy guiding the sphinxes.

He held a sceptre, on the end of which were a globe, a triangle and a square. A golden pentagram sparkled in his crown. On the front of the chariot there was represented a winged sphere and beneath that the symbol of the mystical lingam, signifying the union of two principles.

“Everything in this picture has a significance. Look and try to understand”, said the voice.

“This is Will armed with Knowledge. We see here, however, the wish to achieve, rather than achievement itself. The man in the chariot thought himself a conqueror before he had really conquered, and he believes that victory must come to the conqueror. There are true possibilities in this beautiful conception, but also many false ones. Illusory fires and numerous dangers are hidden here.

He controls the sphinxes by the power of a magic word, but the tension of his Will may fail and then the magic word will lose its power and he may be devoured by the sphinxes. This is indeed the Conqueror, but only for the moment; he has not yet conquered Time, and the succeeding moment is unknown to him. This is the Conqueror, not by love, but by fire and the sword,—a conqueror against whom the conquered may arise.

Do you see behind him the towers of the conquered city? Perhaps the flame of uprising burns already there. And he is unaware that the city vanquished by means of fire and the sword is the city within his own consciousness, that the magic chariot is in himself and that the blood-thirsty sphynxes, also a state of consciousness within, watch his every movement.

He has externalized all these phases of his mind and sees them only outside himself. This is his fundamental error. He entered the outer court of the Temple of knowledge, but thinks he has been in the Temple itself. He regarded the rituals of the first tests as initiation, and he mistook for the goddess, the priestess who guarded the threshold. Because of this misconception great perils await him.

Nevertheless it may be that even in his errors and perils the Great Conception lies concealed. He seeks to know and, perhaps, in order to attain, mistakes, dangers and even failures are necessary. Understand that this is the same man whom you saw uniting Heaven and Earth, and again walking across a hot desert to a precipice.

-The Symbolism of the Tarot by P.D. Ouspensky (1913)

The Chariot (VII)

The Chariot (VII)

The eighteenth century version of The Chariot shows white horses yoked to the car. This card is really the idea of a King in his triumph, exemplifying the victory which creates kingship as its natural consequence and not the vested royalty of the fourth card. Court de Gebelin believed The Chariot card to be an image of Osiris triumphing over the sun in spring-time having vanquished the obstacles of winter.

It is to be understood for this reason that the question of the sphinx is concerned with a Mystery
of Nature and not of the world of Grace, to which the charioteer could offer no answer. The planes of his conquest are external and not within himself. The liberation he brings may leave him in the bondage logical understanding.

The tests of initiation, through which he has passed in triumph, are to be understood physically or rationally. If the Hero came to the pillars of the Temple, between which the High Priestess is seated, he could not open the scroll called Tora. If the High Priestess questioned him, he would not be able answer. He is not hereditary royalty, neither is he priesthood.

-Modern Translation of The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A.E. Waite (1910)

The Chariot Card Imagery

The Chariot card shows an erect and princely figure carrying a drawn sword. On the shoulders of the victorious hero are supposed to be the Urim and Thummim, a set of two objects used for divination by the first high priest of the Israelites. He is conquest on all planes; In the mind, in science, in progress, in certain trials of initiation. Two sphinxes draw his chariot. He is, above all things, the idea of triumph.

The Chariot is represented in some existing texts as being drawn by two sphinxes, but it must not be assumed that such an image was its original form. The variation of this card was invented to support a particular historical hypothesis. Other animals, in addition to horses, have been used to draw the currus triumphalis (chariot a victorious general), for example, a lion and a leopard.

-Modern Translation of The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A.E. Waite (1910)

The Chariot Meaning

The Chariot Meaning

A Conqueror, crowned with three shining Pentagrams of gold, advances in a cubical chariot. This chariot is topped by an azure star-decked canopy, supported by four columns. The four columns represent the four animals of the 1st arcanum. The conqueror is the man who has defeated and directed the elementary forces.

The Conqueror bears upon his shoulders the Urim and Thummim, represented by the two crescents of the moon on the right and left. In his hand is a scepter topped by a globe, a square, and a triangle. Upon the square front of the chariot, we see the Indian lingam with the the flying sphere of Egypt above. Two sphinxes, one white, the other black, are harnessed to the chariot. The two sphinxes correspond to the two principles, active and passive.

-Modern Translation of The Tarot of The Bohemians by Papus (1892)

Significations of The Chariot

  • Man Performing the Function of God the Creator = The Father, The Realizer
  • Reflex of the Power = Law, The Realization
  • Nature Performing the Function of Adam = The Astral Light

-Tarot of The Bohemians by Papus (1892)

The Chariot Card

The Chariot Card

The Meaning of The Chariot Card Throughout History

The Tarot deck is a beautiful synthesis of esoteric thought and archetypal imagery. The journey of the deck, shaped by the events and values of each era, has continued to evolve and take on new significance as it adapts to a larger cultural story. Often a tarot card will have a variety of names and meanings. Exploring the historical interpretations of each card will create a deeper understanding of this powerful method for divination and self-discovery.

Various Names for The Chariot Card

Tarot de Marseille (1650)The Chariot
Court de Gébelin (1781)Osiris’ Triumphant
Etteilla (1783)Dissension
Paul Christian (1870)The Chariot of Osiris
Golden Dawn (1888)The Child of the Powers of the Waters; the Lord of the Triumph of Light
Papus (1892)The Chariot
Rider-Waite (1910)The Chariot
Thoth (1943)The Chariot
The Child of the Powers of the Waters; the Lord of the Triumph of Light

Card VII: The Chariot

This is a most complicated and important symbol, which has been restored by Eliphas Levi. It represents a Conqueror crowned and bearing a scepter, riding in a cubical chariot, surmounted by four columns and a canopy, and drawn by two horses, one of which looks straight forward, while the other turns his head towards him. (Two wheels are shown in the complete single-headed figure.) It represents Triumph, and Victory of Justice and Judgment.

Upright: Triumph, Victory, Overcoming obstacles
Reversed: Overthrown, Conquered by Obstacles at the last moment

-The Tarot by S.L. MacGregor Mathers (1888)

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The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

The Chariot (VII) - The Illustrated Key to the Tarot published 1918, public domain
The Chariot (VII) – The Illustrated Key to the Tarot published 1918, public domain

This guide by Arthur Edward Waite, the designer of the most widely known Tarot deck and distinguished scholar of the Kabbalah, is the essential Tarot reference. The pictorial key contains a detailed description of each card in the celebrated 78-card Rider-Waite Tarot deck, along with regular and reversed meanings. Contents describe symbols and secret tradition, ancient Celtic methods of divination, and wonderful illustrations of each Tarot card. This book is the perfect complement to old-style fortune telling and also serves to make the Tarot entirely accessible to modern-day readers. The Pictorial Key to the Tarot is the classic guide to the Rider-Waite deck and to Tarot symbolism in general.

The Sorcerers Tarot

The Chariot (VII) - The Sorcerers Tarot by Lo Scarabeo © 2007 Lo Scarabeo srl. All rights reserved, used by permission.
The Chariot (VII) – The Sorcerers Tarot by Lo Scarabeo © 2007 Lo Scarabeo srl. All rights reserved, used by permission.

Wiccans, high magicians, and sorcerers of all kinds will find a wealth of inspiration in this magic-infused tarot–teeming with spectacular, provocative imagery.

Golden Art Nouveau Tarot

The Chariot (VII) - Golden Art Nouveau Tarot by Giulia F. Massaglia © 2019 Lo Scarabeo srl. All rights reserved, used by permission.
The Chariot (VII) – Golden Art Nouveau Tarot by Giulia F. Massaglia © 2019 Lo Scarabeo srl. All rights reserved, used by permission.

The gold-foil details of this outstanding deck perfectly complement the elegant designs and gracefully curved lines of the classic art nouveau style. Artist Giulia F. Massaglia captures the essence of the RWS symbolism and makes it truly sacred with her immaculate illustrations. Whether you’re reading for yourself, for friends, or for clients, the Golden Art Nouveau Tarot provides all the insights and wisdom of a traditional tarot with the addition of a stunning visual presentation. These cards add a glorious touch of sparkle and shine to your tarot practice.

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