The Chariot is the seventh Major Arcana in Rider Waite tarot Deck, in Tarot de Marseilles or in Thoth tarot deck.
Representing a princely figure sitting in a chariot pulled by two or four sphinxes, horses or other animals (usually of different colours), it is associated with the ideas of self-control, conquest and travel.
We’ll see what the four major masters of tarot tell us about this major arcana: A. E. Waite, (author of „The Pictorial Key to the Tarot“, in 1911, and creator of the Rider-Waite tarot deck), P. D. Ouspensky (author of „The Symbolism of the Tarot“, 1913), Aleister Crowley (author of „The Book of Thoth“, 1944) and Papus (author of „ The Tarot of the Bohemians “, 1892).
Waite about the Chariot: External Conquest
According to Waite’s book, „The Pictorial Key of the Tarot“, the divinatory meaning of this Greater Arcana can be revealed using the following words: „succour, providence also war, triumph, presumption, vengeance, trouble“.
Reversed, the Chariot receives the following interpretation: „ riot, quarrel, dispute, litigation, defeat“.
In the chapter revealing „The Doctrine behind the Veil“, Waite identifies the princely figure with the man who had replied to the sphinx. But, „he is not hereditary royalty and he is not priesthood“. The author offers us five additional explanations:
- „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 manifest or external and not within himself“.
- „the liberation which he effects may leave himself in the bondage of the logical understanding“.
- „the tests of initiation through which he has passed in triumph are to be understood physically or rationally“.
- „if he came to the pillars of that Temple between which the High Priestess is seated, he could not open the scroll called Tora, nor if she questioned him could he answer“.
Ouspenski about the Chariot: a Conqueror by Fire and Sword, not by Love
Regarding this Greater Arcana, P. D. Ouspenski is also talking about external conquest and misunderstanding of his own consciousness: „ 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“.
And therefore, the man from the Chariot is described as a „ 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“.
Crowley about the Chariot: the Bearer of the Holy Grail
For him, the only function of the Charioteer (who is „throned in the chariot rather than con ducting it, because the whole system of progression is perfectly balanced“) is to bear the Holy Grail.
So, „the central and most important feature of the card is its centre – the Holy Grail. It is of pure amethyst, of the colour of Jupiter, but its shape suggests the full moon and the Great Sea of Binah. In the centre is radiant blood; the spiritual life is inferred; light in the darkness“.
Papus about the Chariot:Realisation and Man Performing he Action of God the Creator
Considered the first card of the second septenary, it receives the following interpretations, on multiple levels::
- THE GOD of the 2nd septenary. Man performing the function of God the Creator.
- THE FATHER. The law of the 2nd septenary. REALIZATION. (Reflex of the Power.)
- The Man of the 2nd septenary. Nature performing the function of Adam. THE ASTRAL LIGHT“.