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Meaning of the Tarot card Chariot


Some frequent keywords are:

Conquest ----- Honor ----- Victory ----- Energy

Egocentrism ----- Self confidence ----- Conviction ----- Anxiety

Willpower ----- Self assertion ----- Hard control ----- Discipline

Inflexibility ----- Success ----- Wealth ----- Recognition

Impulsivity ----- Command ----- Bravery ----- Pride

A powerful princely figure sits in a swift chariot, pulled usually by two sphinxes or horses. There is often a black and white motif, for example one of the steeds may be black and the other white. The figure may be crowned or helmeted, and is winged in some representations. He may hold a sword or wand, or other masculine symbol. The Thoth deck has the figure controlling four different animals, representing the four elements.


This section does not cite its references or sources. You can help Wikipedia by introducing appropriate citations. Some say that the mood of the card may be characterised as that of conquest. It represents a battle that can be won if the Querant has the willpower for it. The battle is usually an external one, with a clear goal and plan of action. Qualities needed to win the battle are; self-reliance, righteousness, conviction and plain hard work. The steeds represent powerful forces, internal or external, that can be controlled to achieve the goal. If inverted, the meaning remains the same, but the Querant is in danger of losing the battle due to a lack of control. Other say that it's all about a journey; getting into the car and driving away. Associated with this card are the star sign Leo or Aries, Mars planet, Fire and the Hebrew letter ? (Het)

Mythopoetic Approach

Structurally, the Chariot follows The Lovers. After the impulse that pulls us out of the Garden, we get on our chariot and depart. At that point, we are The Hero of our own story; maybe the Hero of everyone's story. The driver. The fighter pilot. Apollo, who drives the sun's chariot across the sky. The danger of this card is well illustrated by the myth of Phaeton. Phaeton was a son of Hyperion (or Apollo) and a mortal woman. He was often mocked as a bastard by the other children in his community. When he was old enough, he went on a quest to find his father and win acknowledgement from him. Hyperion was so overjoyed to see him he swore on the River Styx to do anything he asked to establish his paternity. A foolish oath; Phaeton asked to drive the Sun's chariot the next day. This was unfortunate, as even a demigod was probably not strong enough to control the Chariot of the Sun, but gods do not break oaths based on the river that marks the threshold between the living and dead worlds. So deeply grieved, Hyperion showed Phaeton the reins and explained the route, well marked by the circle of animals that makes up the Zodiac. Tragically, Phaeton was not ready, and could not control the chariot. He sailed to high, and scorched Orion. He flew too low, and burned the Earth herself. Finally, Zeus shot him out of the sky with thunderbolts. He fell to the earth, dead. Among other things, this story illustrates the danger of reaching too high, unprepared. But a man's reach must extend his grasp, or else what is heaven for? While in mythic times, this son of the Sun failed, in modern times, we have slipped the surly bonds of earth and flown across the sky. The Chariot is Key Seven of the Major Arcana. In classical astrology, there were seven things that predicably wandered against the fixed stars. Mastering those planets meant mastering the system. The Chariot represents the possibility of traveling through the mysteries of the universe. It also evokes the seven gates of hell that Inanna passed through, required to partially disrobe at each one before finally being presented to the Queen of the Underworld, her own sister, Ereshkigal. Ra from Egyptian mythology piloted the boat of the sun across the sky and back to the gates of dawn down the Nile every night. One night, Apophis, Chaos and Old Night, swallowed the river to keep the sun from rising. Fortunately for us, Ra's usual enemy, Set, took it upon himself to save the day by slicing Apophis open, allowing Ra to escape. This story bespeaks the reversals of the night; were our deadly enemies may be our best friends. Another famous chariot driver was the god Krishna who in the Bhagavad Gita drove Arjuna's chariot and gave him illumination; taught him what his role was. He is related through cross sums (the sum of the digits) to Key 16, The Tower. Just like the Chariot is what takes us from our womb, our happy home, our happy village, our planet, The Tower carries us from either what we have constructed for ourselves, or what has been constructed for us. Some authorities say that he is the God of Spring, the Son of the Queen of Heaven. The canopy of his chariot is her starry gown; he wears the waxing and waning moon on his shoulders; the circle of the Zodiac is his belt. He channels energy from the world above (signified by the eight pointed star on his brow; eight here representing Venus) to the world below (signified by the square on his chest, the four corners of the Earth). The star can also represent the infinite; the square the earthly spheres of time and space. He is fueled by contradictory impulses, represented by the black and white sphinxes that pull his chariot. He is the hero they make movies about. Except when he is the villain of the piece. When this card appears, it evokes the Querant's own path; calling; exile; or random journey. The danger is getting on the wrong path; being overwhelmed; dying before our due time. He may warn that we are in danger of being pulled to pieces by forces we do not control, do not understand.

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