Ultimately, the only power to which man should aspire is that which he exercises over himself.
Elie Wiesel (writer, activist, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor)
After a few years’ hiatus, and a string of challenging cards in previous weeks, the The Chariot now rides up for our card of the week.
This is interesting timing, for during this week, we have concluded the solar calendar celebration of Samhain last week, (Oct. 31), and arrive at the astrological cross-quarter date of Samhain (sometimes called Old Samhain), on Nov. 6-7 (depending on your time zone).
Samhain, of course, is the Celtic New Year and the magical New Year for many Craft and Pagan traditions. It is a time of profound endings and new beginnings.
So on many levels, this week we stand at a crossroads, and are truly between the worlds. What better transport could carry us through this time than The Chariot?
The Chariot is the number seven of the Major Arcana. Seven is a most magical number of luck, success, and power. Pythagoras called it the perfect number, a combination of 3 and 4, the triangle and the square, which he considered the perfect figures.
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.”
While probably not a Tarot fan, I think Elie Weisel would have approved of this notion.
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.
In her book, Tarot Wisdom, living Tarot treasure and Grand Master, 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 and the two sphinxes are reminiscent of the pillars of The High Priestess. I feel that the crescent Moons on his shoulders, the canopy, and the position of the buildings in the background also hearken back 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.
The position of the sphinxes also echoes the acolytes in The Hierophant, and finally, 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.
Victory Through Self-Discipline
In their book that accompanies the beautiful DruidCraft Tarot, Philip Carr-Gomm and Bill Worthington write, “The journey to develop the persona, ego, or everyday self is a long one. But once we become conscious of a center of awareness within ourselves, we can start to allow a natural organizing principle to work through us, which manifests as will.”
The Chariot portrays the victory that is possible through such organization, will, and self-discipline. Perhaps there is literal travel on the horizon, or an opportunity for leadership and recognition.
How would our world be different if those in power cultivated a habit of thoughtful purpose, blending inward self-knowledge with outward action, in order to reach higher, less selfish purposes?
This card indicates that as long as we meet it head-on, we can reconcile the strife of opposites, and turn it into collaboration and forward momentum.
Instead of the currently popular reactionary, combative approach, or passive-aggressive deceit, The Chariot urges maturity and the mastery of our emotions. By doing so, we can defuse angry or recalcitrant extremism. When we take the high road, we can make a more wise and lasting progress.
The Chariot’s Cosmic Timing
Many Tarot scholars divide the 22 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. As The Chariot is the last card of the first group, it has sometimes been interpreted as the final test in the first degree of initiation.
It is thus the precise turning point between external, worldly matters and the spiritual, inner journey.
And we (in the Northern Hemisphere) stand on that exact edge this very week. We have now bid goodbye to the outward, active time of year, and move inwards.
Under the darkening Moon, like Persephone, who was abducted by Hades on His chariot, we are now carried deep into the darkest time of the year, and into our own underworlds.
This is also the time of year when The Wild Hunt charges across the night skies, collecting the souls of the dead.
In this time between, as we recognize the beginning of the magical new year, The Chariot encourages us to examine our harvests and results of this year, discard what will not serve us, and welcome the quiet dark of the year, fertile with possibility and dreams.
Also this week, both Mercury and Venus are changing signs. Lee Colman at StraightWoo writes:
Mercury enters Sagittarius on November 5th. Traditionally, this placement is seen as weak, being that the micro-attention of Mercury fares awkwardly in the grandiose lands of Sagittarius. You may want to mentally bite off more than you chew, or take your soul-searching to the next, ultimate level. Next month, Mercury will retrograde in Sagittarius, starting December 4th and finishing December 24th; by mid-month [November] Mercury will be in the shadow of this upcoming retrograde.
Right behind Mercury, Venus enters Scorpio on November 7th. And again, traditionally, this is seen as an uncomfortable position for Venus. Astrologically, the planet Venus is most happy surrounded by fineries and friends; in Scorpio, Venus may find herself plunged into a gothic drawing room filled to the brim with mists of opium and clairsentients galore.
This transit is ideal, however, for stepping deeper into the shadier sides of Venus’ realms, so if you feel called to explore your desires in a more raw, Scorpio style, you’re right on track.
Also on the 7th, Uranus will oppose Vesta. These two are unhappy housemates, with Uranus plotting to break out of structures, and Vesta conjuring a lifetime’s worth of dedication. The urge to break free may be stronger than the desire to settle in and work, so choose carefully if you’re on a deadline.
See the pattern of opposites here, pulling in different directions? The Chariot is the Tarot ally that can make that contradictory energy work in the service of forward progress.
And as I noted in my WINGS newsletter last week, this Saturday, Nov. 11, a solemn international day of remembrance for military veterans, there will be a benevolent trine between sober, steadfast Saturn and innovative rebel Uranus.
Astrologer Lance Ferguson of Skywatch writes:
Dependable Saturn lines up in a trine to experimental Uranus on Nov 11. This marker has been in the Skywatch since last May and its powers will begin to fade after this month is over. Uranus rules cars, computers, the process of change, your friends, and the groups you belong to.
Saturn is practical, realistic, and dependable. So this is an excellent time to work with others to perfect a project and to blend the old and the new into something that improves the situation…
I would venture to say that Uranus also rules chariots, since that is often what we call our automobiles, isn’t it? Again the stars suggest we ask ourselves — how might we harness seemingly contrary influences in our lives, in order to reach a goal?
A Better Time to Make Resolutions
I have long held the belief that our ancestors were very wise to make this the turning point of the New Year. My experience is that this is a far superior time to gauge what we’ve done in the past year and set our New Year’s intentions.
After all, in January, there is a good chance we are fuzzily stumbling around with post-holiday hangovers from over-indulging, over-spending, and over-doing.
So for this magical threshold, what a lovely guide The Chariot makes. He is the essence of self-mastery, and as such, sets us up for success.
With his help, what resolution rings true for you? What might your goals be for the coming year?
In what ways are you being challenged to know and manifest your will? What new path forward unfolds before you? Only by engaging directly with whatever obstacles lie before you can you triumph.
Now is the time to marshal your energy, set a clear objective, focus, and move forward with confidence.
By doing so, the victory you envision can be yours.
Happy New Year and blessed be.