(The above image is a copy of The Chariot card in a standard Rider-Waite Tarot deck. The 8 symbols pointed out above are explained below.)
The Chariot card illustrates our drive to pursuer our goals. It is willpower incarnate. The Chariot balances the polarises of life and embraces the divine mysteries. The charioteer experiences the wonders of the universe while in command of his own vessel.
For more information about The Chariot card, check out A. E. Waite’s description here.
Point 1 – STONE CHARIOT
The stone chariot roots the charioteer in the material world. Some have interpreted it as a representation of the unconscious. The chariot hides the charioteer’s bottom half in the same way that our unconscious is hidden from us. The gray of the stone reiterates the gray throne of The Emperor and the gray columns of The Hierophant; it symbolizes the charioteer’s unbiasedness in his journey forward.
Point 2 – CHARIOTEER
The charioteer stands uprights and commands the chariot. If the chariot represents the unconscious, then the charioteer represents the subjective conscious. He is our will and our experiences. As he moves the chariot through the world, we move our bodies, taking command of our actions.
Point 3 – WAND
The charioteer holds a wand in one of his hands. This is a call back to The Magician card. The wand represents the manifestation of his will. He moves the chariot through creative force, through magic. The wand is a conduit for his subjective consciousness.
Point 4 – MOONS
On the charioteer’s shoulders, there lie two crescent moons. One is laughing while the other is crying. They are the sock and buskin, the comedy and tragedy, that we experience in life. They are crescent so that they reveal what is to come; they will grow into a full moon of being.
Point 5 – STARS
Above the charioteer’s head is a canopy of stars. They represent the infinite space that the charioteer, in his command, has to explore. They connect the card to divinity, to the cosmos. The charioteer, like The Fool, is an adventurer into the unknown. If we are in control with our will, we can follow him.
Point 6 – CHARIOT’S CREST
On the stone chariot, there is a crest with the lingam and yoni on it, the Indian symbol representing both the male and female sex organs. Like The Lovers card before it, the chariot’s crest illustrate the balance of the genders. This equality feeds into the grayness of the chariot.
Point 7 – SPHINXES
More than the chariot and the charioteer, the sphinxes represent the duality of life. Like the columns in The High Priestess card, the sphinxes are yin and yang. They point in opposite directions but find equilibrium in the charioteer’s will. Notably, they are not attached to the chariot. They are the mystery that the charioteer explores.
Point 8 – CITY AND NATURE IN THE BACKGROUND
In the background, you have the city of The Emperor and the nature of The Empress. Like everything in tarot, there is a union in opposites. The charioteer must be attentive of what is behind him in order to be informed about what is in front of him.
If you combined The Magician and The Emperor, you would get an upright Chariot. An upright Chariot suggests the power of the will. Be bold in your decision making and venture out into the unknown with confidence. Your creative faculties have never been sharper. Heighten your passion and seize the day.
If an upright Chariot is a green light, a reverse Chariot is a yellow one. Slow down from your project and self-reflect. Maybe you have gone off course. Back peddle and see where things began to go wrong. Maybe you haven’t realized some external force that is preventing you from proceeding. Identify it, resolve it, and move past it.
For more Tarot Card Meanings, check out our blog here.
About the author: John Taylor is a content writer and freelancer through the company Upwork.com. You may view his freelancing profile here. He has a B. A. in English, with a specialty in technical writing, from Texas A&M University and a M. A. in English from the University of Glasgow. You may view his previous articles about Tarot here and his LinkedIn profile here.