Tarot Meditation: The Chariot

Posted: December 14, 2015 in Tarot

RWS_Tarot_07_Chariot[N.B. some of the color reproduction on my copy of the deck differs from online images. I’ve based my meditation on my deck.]

The Chariot is a card that exhibits a huge disconnect between what it at first appears to show and what it represents on closer inspection. First, a chariot is a fast, vicious dangerous vehicle of ancient warfare. But in this card the chariot appears at a standstill. The two sphinxes that pull it appear stationary, catlike examining their own paws and appearing somewhat bored. This may explain the rather irked expression on the face of the man in the chariot; as if to say “oh for pity’s sake, now what?” Secondly, whereas cards like The Emperor and Justice carry overtones of violence with flowing red and cold bare stone, The Chariot is a plethora of gentle greens and yellows (incidentally green and yellow were the colours of my morris dancing side as a teenager). The rider wears shoulder pieces that appear like crescent moons and is crowned with a star. Behind him the chariot is apparently equipped like a four-poster bed with starred curtains and in his hand he carries what could be a longer version of the wand wielded by The Magician way back in card I.

The black and white sphinxes immediately evoke Plato’s description of life as being like riding a chariot drawn by two horses pulling in different directions. The fact that the chariot appears stopped reminds me how much the rider is at the whim of his steeds. In this instance I ascribe some intent to the cat-like figures. They have stopped directly in front of me and it’s as if they’ve decided that either I’m worth talking to or they intend to give me a lift.

There is overt imagery in the presence of sphinxes, the black and white duality seen elsewhere is evident. The ancient egyptian theme is carried as far as the hieroglyphs on the rider’s clothes, but his crown appears to incorporate a laurel reef. Then the background also appears wrong for an egyptian theme, showing green fields, possibly a river, and an apparently European town in the background.

At heart The Chariot is a card that tries to intimidate or bewilder but is actually a lot more human and relatable than it would like to have us think.

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