Tarot Card Meanings for the Chariot
drive ~ willpower ~ confidence
- Drive, will power, direction, ambition, confidence, victory, success, a journey, transportation, success with little or no support, overcoming obstacles, triumph in the face of adversity, coming to the aid of another, mastering a skill, driving force, impetus, energy.
- Scattered energy, lack of direction, taking the long way round, loss of will, drive & ambition, a cancelled journey or trip, a vehicle breaking down, needing the help of another.
- As People:
- Horse riders/racers, equestrians, drivers, pilots, motor racers, bike racers, mechanics, car body technicians/artists, custom car technicians, vehicle designers, engineers.
What Does the Chariot Mean in the Tarot?
Historically, the Chariot here refers back to the triumphs of victorious generals and kings coming back from battles with the spoils of war on display. This practice dates back to ancient times and was prevalent in 14th & 15th century Milan and other Italian city states – the accepted birthplace of the tarot, or tarocchi, as we know it now. Back then the triumph was known as trionfi. During the trionfi, the chariot held the general or king and became known as the vehicle for victory. As they were returning from battles, skirmishes, takeovers and all things military, grit, tenacity and courage all became associated with the Chariot card. We can also see the 6 of Wands here and the parade of the victor, now a hero to the people. Also contained within are the characteristics required for victorious battle as the 7 of Wands – Courage.
Overtime and with the influence of the western mystery tradition, we see other attributes being added to the growing card meanings for the Chariot. Willpower is one, and it is interesting that we see the Magician directing his will, while the charioteer taps into willpower to overcome his obstacles and adversity. Digging deep like this also gives rise to characteristics associated with victory: overcoming adversity, confidence and tenacity. These are words and traits used liberally in the modern age, in the pursuit of achievement, social mobility and ambition. The Chariot also refers to energy and staying power which is useful to know when midway through a difficult situation – when you’re going through hell, keep going.
Astrologically speaking, the Chariot is associated with Cancer, the crab – a water card and not a pairing that is easy to see when you consider Cancer as a homemaker and protector, but it is with this last word we can begin to see an association. As a crustacean, the crab has a tough outer shell – a natural armour to protect itself and somewhere it recoils upon meeting danger it cannot overcome. The charioteer also wears armour, of course. Aside from personal protection, he is protecting the wider home of his city state/country as well as his own home, and esoterically, he carries a very precious cargo.
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn called this card: The Child of the Powers of the Waters, and, The Lord of the Triumph of Light. In the Golden Dawn paradigm, the Chariot carries the Holy Grail, and so our charioteer is a Soldier of God as well as carrier of the Grail. It is also interesting to note another chariot that also carries a precious cargo – the Merkabah – the throne/chariot of God. From Wikipedia:
It is most closely associated with the vision in Ezekiel chapter 1 of the four-wheeled vehicle driven by four hayyot (“living creatures”), each of which has four wings and the four faces of a man, lion, ox, and eagle (or vulture). Note with interest the description of the four wheels – each contains the same figures that will later appear on the World card, and a version of them appear on the Wheel of Fortune. As Rachel Pollack notes in 78 Degrees of Wisdom, the imagery between these two latter cards is striking.
In a reading, you will almost always interpret the Chariot to mean victories, overcoming adversity, using willpower, protection of what you own and who you love, and taking on these traits. Where it denotes some kind of conflict or difficulty ahead, it can also confidently be known that success, or rather, victory, will ensue despite what lay ahead. When I was recently overwhelmed by a choice, the Chariot came to show me the following: for clarity – which projects are worth the effort? As there is a deeply religious and mystical aspect to this card, it should be understood that during difficulties and overcoming adversity, annihilation of your opponent is not appropriate with this card. As with the 6 of Wands, victory need not be a zero sum game, that belongs to the numerological counterpart of the Chariot – the Tower.
Correspondences for the Chariot
- Cancer / June 21-22
- Numerologically related to
- 16 – the Tower
- Card Counting Value
- 12 – Zodiacal Trump
- Yes/No Question
Tarot Deck Credits
Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law published by Llewellyn Inc