Some authors interpret this card as a sign of triumph and victory, Caesar arriving in a chariot after defeating his enemies. What this card is really all about is control, effort, and work. The black and white sphinxes represent opposing forces harnessed, unfortunately, to the same vehicle. The charioteer is charged with maintaining control over forces which may be incompatible and pulling him in opposite directions, maintaining balance in the midst of chaos.
Note that the Chariot is not going anywhere. It’s sitting perfectly still and the sphinxes are pretty much sitting on their asses and staring off in different directions. This indicates that the questioner is going to have to work hard to even get things moving and then work harder to keep them under control.
There is also a strong element of the mystical and calling on higher powers for help in this card. He carries a wand, showing that he is channeling power and inspiration from a higher realm of being and the square on his chest shows that he is integrating all of the four elements into his efforts.
All in all, this is a card that shows a period of hard work, the need for control over forces or people that may have opposite views or be totally unmotivated, and the need to channel inspiration and higher guidance. The crescent moons on his shoulders indicate that the period of hard work may last about a month and – in all probability – there will be a favorable outcome.
On a very mundane level, this card can indicate that the questioner is about to get a new vehicle or do some serious traveling.
REVERSED: This can indicate that things are – or at least feel – totally out of control. A period of chaos in the questioners life when he or she feels that exterior forces or people are controlling her destiny.
People in 12 Step Programs often emphasize the need to acknowledge – gracefully – that we are powerless over certain things in our lives. That can be a big key in dealing with this card. Don’t fight or lash out at people or situations; just acknowledge that this is something that you can’t control and turn it over to your Higher Power.
Again, on a mundane level, this can indicate some sort of a problem with your car or delays in travel arrangements.
Some Additional Thoughts About the Chariot:
The Chariot is a very weird card. On the surface the Charioteer looks very butch. He’s got his armor on and a really impressive crown and there are crescent moons sitting on his shoulders and he’s protected by a canopy of stars. He’s the kind of a guy that if you saw him sitting in his chariot at a stop light you might think, “Wow!”
Or even, “Zounds!”
But if you take a closer look there are some obvious signs that something’s wrong with this picture. As I said in the basic definition the sphinxes aren’t going anywhere. They’re sitting on their butts and pointing in different directions. Not exactly champing at their bits. Because – hey! – there are no bits. And while we’re at it, there are no reins. And there’s no harness.
Hmmmm . . .
So what we have is this guy sitting in his magnificent chariot with no way to make it go anywhere and no way to direct it even if it does go somewhere. Which means that if you pull The Chariot in a reading you’ve got to start off with the basics.
First of all you have to get both sphinxes pointed in the same direction. They represent your motive force, your motivations, your desires to go somewhere and achieve your goals. The Chariot points to the fact that you’re probably going through a period in your life where you have a lot of different goals and they may not be compatible with each other. You literally feel torn in a lot of different directions.
You need to get your goals straightened out and figure out where you want to go. You’re at Point A and before you can figure out how to get to Point B you need to figure out what Point B is. What do you WANT?
Hopefully you figure out your goal, you get both your sphinxes turned in that direction and you’re all ready to go! Except . . . wait . . . you still don’t have reins and the sphinxes still aren’t harnessed to anything. That’s the next step.
The sphinxes are your motivation, your power to get where you want to go. But you need to learn how to control the power that flows out of that motivation. To discipline yourself, keep your shit together and keep going on the path that you’ve chosen without flying off in a million different directions.
That’s the paradox of The Chariot. At first glance it seems to portray someone who really has it together. A closer look shows someone who is going to have a tough battle ahead and isn’t prepared for it. Yet. There are basic lessons about discipline and control to be learned before the wheels of the chariot even start to turn.
As I said, The Chariot is a very weird card.