Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
George Bernard Shaw
In this week of the powerful New Moon in Leo, and as the political powers of the United States play “chicken” with the global economy, The Chariot rides up and beckons us to get up and get going.
The Chariot is the lucky number 7 of the Major Arcana, and the Rider-Waite-Smith image fairly overflows with magical symbolism.
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.”
The Chariot is drawn by the two Sphinxes of duality (black and white), indicating that the charioteer has answered the 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 making a challenging choice.
This interpretation is reinforced by many Tarot scholars, including Rachel Pollack, 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 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 and 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 also reference 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.
Rachel writes 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.
Thus, all of those elements that most affect us in our outer lives are mastered by the Chariot. It portends moving successfully forward towards a goal, and the completion of the cycle.
Here in the U.S., perhaps this is an indication that the resolution to the destructive, divisive stalemate being played out by our polarized politicians will be progressively resolved. The Chariot’s power does not point to a watered-down compromise, but victory and triumph for somebody. I can only hope that this appearance of The Chariot points to forward movement, not a painful step backwards.
In psychological terms, this is 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 will be inward.
Thus, we ride forward. What are you leaving behind now? What does The Chariot encourage you to now look forward to?
The Chariot indicates that, in this last week before Mercury retrograde, riding the energy of the New Moon on Saturday, this might be a good time to begin to stir ourselves from the languid, drifting Summertime pause so many of us have been feeling. We should now be about setting some goals, focusing our will, and moving forward. The Chariot does not take kindly to dithering, dabbling, or taking the path of least resistance.
What riddles have you struggled with? What challenges have come that only serve to steel your determination? What would it take for you to know you are giving your utter best?
Do not be discouraged from your dream and desire. Avoid scattering your energy or giving way to emotional whim. Instead, we are called to focus our will and know this: great success can be ours, if we are willing to be clear in our intention and then move forward with focus.
With confidence and commitment we discover our mastery.