vii The Chariot Picture
Structurally, the Chariot follows The Lovers. After the impulse that pulls us out of the Garden, we get on our chariot and depart. At that point, we are the Hero of our own story; maybe the Hero of everyone’s story. That Hero might represent Helios, the Greek god who drives the Sun’s chariot across the sky, bringing light to the earth. The danger of this card is well illustrated by the myth of Phaëton. Among other things, this story illustrates the danger of reaching too high, unprepared.
The Chariot is Key Seven of the Major Arcana, it represents the possibility of traveling through the mysteries of the universe. It also evokes the seven gates of hell that Inanna passed through, required to partially disrobe at each one before finally being presented to the Queen of the Underworld, her own sister, Ereshkigal.
Ra from Egyptian mythology piloted the boat of the sun across the sky and back to the gates of dawn down the Nile every night. One night, Apophis, Chaos and Old Night swallowed the river to keep the sun from rising. Fortunately, Ra’s usual enemy, Set, took it upon himself to save the day by slicing Apophis open, allowing Ra to escape. This story bespeaks the reversals of the night, where our deadly enemies may be our best friends.
The Chariot is related through cross sums (the sum of the digits) to Key 16, The Tower. Much like the Chariot takes us from our womb, our happy home, our happy village, or our planet, the Tower carries us from either what we have constructed for ourselves, or what has been constructed for us.
Some authorities say that he is the God of Spring, the Son of the Queen of Heaven. The canopy of his chariot is her starry gown; he wears the waxing and waning moon on his shoulders; the circle of the Zodiac is his belt. He channels energy from the world above (signified by the eight pointed star on his brow, eight here representing Venus) to the world below (signified by the square on his chest, the four corners of the Earth). The star can also represent the infinite, the square the earthly spheres of time and space.
He is fueled by contradictory impulses, represented by the black and white sphinxes that pull his chariot.
When this card appears, it evokes the Querent’s own path - calling, exile or random journey. The danger is getting on the wrong path - being overwhelmed and dying before our due time.
He may warn that we are in danger of being pulled to pieces by forces we do not control and do not understand.