Keywords for The Chariot
In the image on the card, we see a decorated hero triumphantly returning home from battle. He has ventured out into the world, and proven himself victorious in what he has set out to achieve.
We see our hero standing proud inside his chariot that is seemingly made of a stone cube. Just as we saw in previous cards like the High Priestess and the Emperor, this symbolizes the material world of physical manifestation.
On an esoteric level, this can refer to our identification with our physical bodies as our vehicles for expression in the world. It also potentially speaks to our identification with our ego (our structured sense of self) or our persona (the mask which we present to others, which like the ego, is another constructed sense of self).
Interestingly, this chariot is pulled not by horses, but instead by two sphinxes of opposite colors. One black and one white, these sphinxes represent the two sides of our nature, the rational and the emotional.
The rider of the chariot, or Higher Self, is the mediating force which controls both elements and gets them to work together for the shared purpose of moving the individual forward toward his goals. This reconciliation of disparate elements within the self is accomplished through the use of our will-power.
Interpretation of the Chariot
When the Chariot comes up in a tarot reading, it can mean success or victory in what we intend to accomplish.
The Chariot can also represent competence and self-mastery. It often signals the development of discipline and control over our instincts and drives. We may also see the resulting competency extended to include dominion over our outer circumstances and physical environment.
In a reading, the Chariot can also indicate a strong sense of confidence, independence, and self-assurance. It speaks to our capacity to know who we are, what we want, and how we intend to get there.
Consequently, this card can also indicate self-interest and self-advocacy. This attitude can be expressed in both healthy and unhealthy ways. When done in ways that are in alignment with our integrity, it often means having strong boundaries and being able to stand up for ourselves when necessary.
Finally, the card represents the element of our psyche which we call the ego. The ego is not our true selves, but is instead what we think we are. It involves the stories that we have created about ourselves based on a combination of our experiences and our ideals.
The word ego itself means “I am” in Latin. We can see that it is simply an expression through language (either in thought or as spoken words) of a constructed self-concept.
Contrary to many schools of spiritual thought, the ego is not the enemy. The ego is not something to be transcended or eradicated. Rather, it is a useful tool that we use as we move through the world—it is the vehicle used by the Self as it sets out to accomplish its objective.
The problem arises when we become too identified with this constructed ego self. The solution is not to eliminate the ego, but simply to be flexible in our ability to mediate and revise our self-concept as our circumstances require of us.
As a result, this means that in a reading the Chariot can also suggest the negative consequences of a rigid, inflexible ego. When this card appears, we may want to ask ourselves if we are holding too tightly to false narratives around who we are and what our value is to others.
Finally, on an esoteric level, this card is associated with the power of speech, which includes thought as well as the written word. We can clearly see how this is likely rooted in the fact that language is an important tool for the successful achievement of our objectives, and essential to the elaboration of our egoic sense of self, which are the two core meanings of the Chariot tarot card in a reading.