I find The Chariot such a powerful card.
Particularly looking at images such as the one below by Stephanie Piu-Mun Law. The winged charioteer stands masterfully in her carriage, looking incredibly self-assured as she charges onwards. She is not holding the reins, yet it is clear that she is driving the chariot and controlling the unicorns by some special force – the force of her own will.
The Chariot, from the Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Piu-Mun Law
It’s all about direction and focus and confidence.
The image of someone driving themselves onwards – that act of setting a goal and then going at it full-pelt – is a great one. It’s an energy we could all do with at times, but how can we achieve the strength of the charioteer?
Control is one of the words I most strongly associate with The Chariot.
It’s divisive – within myself – I have a turbulent reaction when I see it. It is about control to the point where we can’t experience our true selves? Or keeping a necessarily tight rein on things in order to get where we want? A bit of both, I think. It’s often the case that if we want to move forward, we need to rein in our emotions, imaginations, desires etc, and keep them under control – learning the discipline of doing this is a helpful expercise and this is where I really like to see The Chariot.
However I often get the sense in a reading that this card is showing me not so much ‘checked’ as denied energies. Coming back to Law’s painting, above, the unicorns look back towards their mistress as if needing acknowledgement – however she refuses to see them and simply stares straight ahead, focused 100% on her goal.
If the unicorns represent figments of our imagination, and they are the very things that are pulling the chariot, surely they will need acknowledgement and nurturing? If they represent feelings, whether they be positive or negative, can it really be a good idea to let them pull us towards a goal without examining them closely? In fact, rather than keeping those unicorns under a leash, this charioteer has actually let go of the reins – I wonder if she has become a little too confident and might be destined for a crash…
In many images, the charioteer is a mistress of balance, the black and white horses (or other creatures) she drives representing the neccessity to keep opposing forces under equal control, never allowing one to dominate. Very hard work, I would imagine!
Whilst I’m blown away by the power of this card’s imagery, I feel that it comes with a warning. It says ‘all power to you, and wow, what speed…but be careful. You know where you’re going, but not what the road will be like.’
The Chariot of Apollo, by Odilon Redon (c.1905)
PS I just wanted to add this very different image from the Anna K Tarot. I love it’s sense of optimism, when I see it I just want to cry ‘wheeeeeee!’ as I feel myself soaring off towards the sun. It’s alltogether a humbler image of The Chariot, even the very vehicle looks less grandiose and (and yet there’s that little warning voice in the back of the mind that remembers Icarus…)
The Chariot, from the Anna K Tarot by Anna Klaffinger
I’m a 30-something writer, artist, tarot reader, and perpetual explorer of the space between thought, feeling, and action.
I believe that spirituality and ritual are for everybody. I’m about the journey, in all of its messy, non-linear, chaotic iterations. I am excited by anticapitalist business and living with my whole entire self present. I use tarot cards to bring forth hidden truth, and ritual to affirm my commitment, over and over, to my ever-shifting path.