Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator.
And change has its enemies.
Robert F. Kennedy
As we bid farewell this week to Winter in the northern Hemisphere, how splendid it is that The Chariot will carry us forward into the season of growth and light.
Arthur Waite describes this card as “conquest on all planes – in the mind, in science, in progress, in certain trials of initiation… He is above all things triumph in the mind.”
As you may recall, we had the Seven of Pentacles back during the week of Feb. 22. All the Minor Arcana cards are aspects of the trump card with their number. So with the appearance of The Chariot, it would seem good fortune has returned in a multifaceted form that extends well beyond the influence of Pentacles.
Powered By All the Previous Majors
Not only do all the Minor Arcana sevens refer back to this seven, the Rider-Waite-Smith image fairly crackles with magical symbolism.
The Chariot is drawn by the two Sphinxes of duality (black and white), indicating that the charioteer has answered the ancient riddle of the Sphinx and now is granted the ability to move ahead.
Thus, he has passed the first degree of initiation by solving a vital, difficult question, or perhaps by making an important choice (for it is no accident that The Chariot follows the choice challenge of The Lovers).
This interpretation is reinforced by many Tarot scholars, who divide the twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana into 3 groups, from 1-7, 8-14, and 15-21, with The Fool, as zero, standing alone as beginning and end.
In her book, Tarot Wisdom, Rachel Pollack notes that, as the final card of the first sequence of three, the Waite-Smith Chariot contains a reference to all of the preceding Trumps.
The charioteer holds one of The Magician’s wands (the stick The Fool carries is also frequently thought to be a wand). The two sphinxes are reminiscent of the pillars of The High Priestess (however, it is my opinion that the canopy and the position of the buildings in the background are a more direct reference to her).
The Empress’ star crown appears as the canopy above the charioteer, and The Emperor is recalled by the stone-like cube of the chariot.
You might notice that the position of the sphinxes echoes the acolytes in The Hierophant, and lastly, the symbol of the wings, hovering over the joined lingam and yoni is a reference to the image of The Lovers.
In other words, all of those elements that most affect us in our outer lives – as portrayed by the first seven cards of the Major Arcana — are mastered within The Chariot.
Therefore, it usually portends moving successfully forward towards a goal, and the completion of the cycle.
And so this week, it is time to ride forward.
What Happens Between the Worlds Affects All the Worlds
This week’s card will open the gates to the Springtime, and to the final New Year of the year – the astrological New Year that arrives at Equinox on Sunday.
Plus, we are in the midst of an eclipse window, meaning that the New Moon solar eclipse that occurred on March 8 will give way (as eclipses are always paired to do) to a Full Moon lunar eclipse on March 23.
Thus, we are in a powerful threshold moment, on the edge of profound change. This is a liminal space between worlds, seasons, and times.
My friend Lynn Hayes has written about the relation between eclipses and the Lunar Nodes, which work as markers of personal growth and challenges:
The nodes of the Moon describe our evolutionary journey, with the North Node (also called the Dragon’s head by the Chinese and other ancients) demonstrating the direction in which we are heading and the South Node (the Dragon’s tail) identifying the karmic past and issues best left behind.
The involvement in the eclipse phenomenon perhaps gives a clue to the effect of an eclipse, where the Sun and Moon are aligned in tandem with the evolutionary lunar nodes but the earth blocks their light.
The symbolism to me is clear: The eclipse marks a turning point, but the significance may not be obvious as both the solar conscious principle and the lunar instincts are obscured and we journey in darkness.
In psychological terms, it is momentous that The Chariot has arrived at this time, for it represents the victory of the developed ego, the fully mature adult who is now ready to steer the course of his or her life based on determination and desire. The next steps in the journey of self-actualization lie ahead.
Burgeoning life now stirs and rises up in the Northern Hemisphere. Like the charioteer, we can harness the natural flow of this expansion and growth.
Riding the awakening energy of the greening land, it is time to begin to stir ourselves from the hibernation of Winter. The Chariot has little patience for dithering, dabbling, or taking the path of least resistance. It calls us to set our goals, focus our will, and go for it.
What riddles have you struggled with? What challenges have come that only serve to steel your determination?
Have changes needled you to shift the status quo? Never mind, says The Chariot. The journey is the whole point, so keep moving.
So what if there are setbacks, detours, and distractions? Friction gives our wheels the traction they need for progress. Besides, there are always enemies of change. Pay attention, stay strong, and keep your eyes on the prize.
Whether we like it or not, change is inevitable. But ensuring whether that change is progress is up to us.