The Chariot

Facing the Wind

"The Self is the rider in the chariot of the body, guided by the intellect as charioteer, drawn by the senses as powerful horses, controlled by way of the mind serving for the reins.  Thus runs the vehicle over the course of experience."
-Paul Foster Case, Tarot Fundementals, 1936

Domenico Balbi, Tarot Baldi, Italy, 1976
Created by an Italian Illustrator and Graphic Designer, this deck reinterprets traditional arcana archetypes through a distinctly 1970's design aesthetic.

The Chariot is the seventh key to the Major Arcana in Tarot.  The Element of the Chariot is Water and the zodiac affiliation is Cancer.

Qualities of the Chariot are Action, Momentum, and Domination.  Alternate names for the Chariot are The Triumphal Car, and The Wagon.  Symbols are Sphinxes, The Shield, Armor, and a Crown of Stars

In German the Chariot is called Der Triumphwagen, and Wagen.  In French, Le Chariot.  And in Italian, Il Carro.


A figure clad in armor, wearing the laurels of victory, charges forth in his chariot.  His carriage is hitched to two sphinxes -- one white, one black -- representing mercy and justice.  A blue canopy embroidered with white stars is stretched atop his head, indicating the presence of the divine.  He is often depicted with scepter or wand, and upon each shoulder he bears the sign of the crescent moon, symbolizing the spirit.  The charioteer also wears a crown of celestial stars, yet upon his tunic is a square, a symbol of his strength of will, and various alchemical signs, indicating that he is also grounded in earthly elements and the material world.  Below him, a wide river runs, a reminder to remain in flow rather than fight the current.  Some decks show a shield at the front of his carriage, which represents the union of opposing forces.  The sphinxes symbolize this as well.  To reach his true destination, the charioteer must steer, not with brute force (in most decks the charioteer is never shown holding reins), but rather with courage and willpower.  


The Chariot personifies determination and conquest over adversity.  This is a card of action, of movement forward toward the manifestation of goals.  Drive and momentum will be required to attain success and guarantee victory.  The Chariot asks for commitment and discipline.  Objectives should firmly be set, in order for the Chariot to remain balanced, wheels on track and heading in the correct direction.  This card also signifies travel, both in the literal sense and along the path of inner progress.  This is not the moment for passivity.  It is time for conviction and persistence, for diligence in pushing past obstacles.  The Charioteer forgoes the easy route, ignoring detours in favor of the hard but rewarding road.

Roberta Lanphere & Herta Drnec, Deva Tarot, Austria, 1986
A collaborative deck featuring colorful artwork inspired in part by the original Thoth Tarot's illustrations created by Lady Frieda Harris in the early 20th century.

Through divine anger we have learned that to constrain or bring to a hault any chariot (someone on the right path toward victory...) all we need is the name of the Emperor...