In the Chariot, we see a man standing in his chariot, holding a wand in his right hand. A crown with a star adorns his head, his shoulder armour is in the shape of the crescent moon. His chest plate has a white square upon in. His belt and clothes are engraved with magical symbols and his chariot has a sphere with wings engraved on it at the front.
The chariot is pulled by two sphinxes, one black male and one white female. In the background, lies a city surrounded by a river or moat.
The Chariot is the seventh card of the Major Arcana and the symbology in it is very much a continuation from previous cards. The white and black sphinxes, the former being male and the latter female, are a throwback to the High Priestess and the pillars of Boaz and Jachin from Solomon’s temple. The Sphinxes resting in front of the Chariot can be taken as guardians and protectors, especially of the secret and magical mysteries of this world.
The man is emblazoned with symbology relating to the universe – the star on his head is surrounded by other stars embroidered onto the chariot’s canopy. Moon crescents are obvious on his shoulder armour (and even these are waxing and waning). A square is displayed on the chest armour, representing the earth. So from the head to the chest, there is the sun, moon and earth.
His golden belt is engraved with symbols and so is his tunic – symbols that at first glance seem mystical.
Just who is this charioteer? His status is indicated by the winged sun engraved on the front of the chariot, a symbol often used in Egypt to represent divinity and royalty. This is not just some warrior – this charioteer comes from a higher realm.
As his chariot is facing away from the city, we can assume that his journey is outward. His demeanor is one of quiet confidence. There is no spear or shield or weapon visible, the charioteer simply holding a wand. Even so, the Charioteer is full of confidence, bearing a strength that derives from his status rather than the weapons he can bear.
The Chariot is a card rich in symbology and worth studying. In readings, it encourages us to move forward confidently. This is not a time to doubt our abilities but simply to trust in our own inner strength. If we believe in our cause, it matters not what weapons we hold, our belief and strength will be our armour.
Even so, the Chariot is still a card that is replete in mysticism. And we should be aware that there are higher forces, or rather forces from another realm, that surround us. Our journey, our movement, should not solely be based upon brute force but done for a higher cause. If we act for a higher purpose, our journey will become as righteous as that of the Chariot. But it is up to each of us to remember that. There is nobody in this card calling upon the Charioteer to follow the right path or undertake his journey – he just knows where his path must go and so we should bear in mind that our actions should be based on a solid ethical or moral footing and not rooted in greed, jealousy or hatred. In a way, the Charioteer has ventured away from the city behind him to pursue a path based on the divine or spiritual.
He has left the safety of a city surrounded by a moat, a city with high walls and solid defences. There is no army accompanying him. The card suggests that it is time to leave the walls we have built around ourselves to follow our own path. When we listen to our soul or engage in undertakings driven by a higher purpose that comes from within, invariably it means leaving the safety of all we have been familiar with.
The Chariot heralds victory or success in our undertakings. We will experience success in life. It may be in the form of a project we’re currently working on, in sport, relationships or spiritual undertaking. It is important that we carry on in the sound belief that we will succeed, full of the determination and drive of the Charioteer.
I often think this card depicts not just our our journey but that of the divine. The symbolism is so rich in this card, it is hard not to come to the conclusion that the Charioteer is of the divine and is akin to a God or his messenger. Perhaps it is a reminder that the gods are watching and full of righteousness, they too have their own journey to make. This card may serve to remind us that all actions are answered, that the gods are not some passive, unresponsive beings but may in the fullness of time arrive on their own Chariots.
The Chariot Reversed
The Chariot reversed hints that we have stalled or are being prevented from continuing our journey. We may be experiencing a mental or emotional block or physically, our journey is not possible. We seem to have lost control of our direction or are lacking the determination or drive to continue. Our motivation may have ebbed away and we find ourselves in the same old routines once more.
Perhaps instead of being brave we are hiding behind our own walls. We have locked ourselves in the city and our ego is convincing us that this is where we should remain.
When the Chariot appears reversed it is a call to arms. We need to regain control of our direction and lives. We need to act with purpose and belief, with a motivation that comes from understanding our purpose in this part of the journey.
We should tackle that project we have been putting off, take the journey we’ve been delaying or assert our own direction in life rather than someone else’s. There is no need to be afraid about following your own path in life. When you understand your purpose, or even take the first step in finding out, you are the Chariot, striking boldly out on your own with a divine alignment that provides more safety to you than any walled city ever could.