The Chariot

control your impulses and thus your direction

from Arcana Full Tarot Playing Cards, by Dead on Paper

If we divide the majors (sans Fool) into three lines of seven, The Chariot ends the first line, which revolves around our egoic identifications. It’s also, interestingly, the first card that isn’t represented by a persona, but a concept or thing. It’s The Chariot, not The Charioteer. The Chariot holds the driver (or ego) protectively in the vehicle as he maneuvers through the transformation from line 1 to line 2. We’re in alignment, driving toward our goal; the lessons learned thus far have provided us with the ability to navigate through challenge. So, here we have drive, but the need to control is a huge part of staying on course. While the black & white sphinxes (in the Waite-Smith deck) represent the conscious and unconscious (or opposing forces of the psyche) to be balanced or controlled, the charioteer must cast off the protective shell of the chariot, which the ego uses to remain safe, and progress into line 2 where true strength controls without force.

(-) In resistance, we’re unable to control the opposing forces of our will, resulting in inner conflict. Do we lack direction? How is our self control?

(+) In excess, we see a strong ego that demands to be in control — or believes itself to be in control when, in fact, the horses are bolting in either direction. This force of will may be all bravado, or going off the rails. It may also indicate a compulsive drive to achieve, perhaps becoming the overachiever. Was there earlier conditioning that love comes only through achievement?

Questions that may be prompted when this card comes up include

  • Where do you feel the need to be in control?
  • What internal parts take control, and when?
  • What are you struggling to control?
  • How does your persona protect you?
  • Where are you driving? In which direction are you going? Are all of your parts on board?
  • What is distracting you?
  • Do you feel a compulsive need to achieve / to prove yourself?

What else? The archetypes of the majors are complex and you may have other insights. How has this card come up for you? What are some examples of this card’s energies?

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