Introduction To The Major Arcana, Part 13: The Chariot

The Chariot represents victory. This victory can be physical, mental, spiritual, financial, or romantic. The Chariot is rich with symbolism. The Chariot wears a square on his chest, representing willpower with its four parallel sides and four equal interior angles. (note that “The Chariot” here refers to the man standing in the chariot, and not the actual chariot) Before him are two black and white sphinxes, which pull his chariot. Interestingly, the Chariot does not hold the reigns, suggesting that he either controls the sphinxes with words of command or through sheer willpower and magic. The staff in his hand can represent magic, but also authority. The Chariot epitomizes strength and aggressive, masculine energy. Although both women and men can embody the Chariot, his essence is thoroughly masculine. Perhaps the most direct statement of the essence of the Chariot comes from the film Conan The Barbarian. The main character is asked, “Conan, what is best in life?” and Conan, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, responds, “To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women!”

The Upright Chariot represents victory and positive expansion of your power and territory. People who have gotten in your way or unjustly held you down will be smashed. Barriers that once held you back will be broken. Perhaps you’ve been timid or diffident in your life, and now is the time to be large and in charge!

The Reversed Chariot is either a negation or an overextension of your power. A reversed card generally means either that the card’s theme is taken to an extreme that undermines its original point, or that it is being negated. So a reversed Chariot either means that you are lacking power in life, or that you are being too aggressive.

In a past-present-future spread, the Chariot indicates the following:

  1. As past, the Chariot is the power that cleared  the ground on which you currently stand. Whatever forest fire cleared away the old world so that you could come into being is the Chariot here. For example, if you have been divorced recently, the Chariot as past is the cataclysmic power that changed your life and put you in your current position through divorce.
  2. As present, the Chariot is a call to action. The reversed Chariot means caution. Upright, it is the time to act and strike while the iron is hot. Reversed, it’s time to check and make sure that your aggression is at just the right level.
  3. As future, the Chariot shows that you will soon run into a barrier that you must shatter. You’re going to slam into some wall or ceiling that will try to resist you. Then it’s time to Hulk out!

Next time, we’ll cover a cataclysmic Major Arcana: The Tower!

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