The Chariot – Basic Self-mastery

The Chariot Basic Self-mastery

The other day, we looked at will and personal power in The Emperor. We discussed how will is first recognised in The Magician, developed in a social context with The Emperor and further developed in the form of self-mastery in The Chariot.

A.E. Waite says this about The Chariot in his Pictorial Key to the Tarot:

An erect and princely figure carrying a drawn sword and corresponding, broadly speaking, to the traditional description which I have given in the first part. On the shoulders of the victorious hero are supposed to be the Urim and Thummim. He has led captivity captive; he is conquest on all planes–in the mind, in science, in progress, in certain trials of initiation. He has thus replied to the sphinx, and it is on this account that I have accepted the variation of Éliphas Lévi; two sphinxes thus draw his chariot. He is above all things triumph in the mind.

It is to be understood for this reason (a) that the question of the sphinx is concerned with a Mystery of Nature and not of the world of Grace, to which the charioteer could offer no answer; (b) that the planes of his conquest are manifest or external and not within himself; (c) that the liberation which he effects may leave himself in the bondage of the logical understanding; (d) that the tests of initiation through which he has passed in triumph are to be understood physically or rationally; and (e) that if he came to the pillars of that Temple between which the High Priestess is seated, he could not open the scroll called Tora, nor if she questioned him could he answer. He is not hereditary royalty and he is not priesthood.

So while the charioteer has managed to achieve some level of self-control/self-mastery by being the boss of his own mind, he has yet to penetrate the deeper mysteries of grace. This means he attributes the success he has had so far to himself rather than giving glory to a higher power. The humility that comes with The Tower (16=1+6=7) has not yet been achieved. Will, though a fine thing indeed, needs to be surrendered to the Divine before the High Priestess shares her secret with him.

In the Frideborg Tarot, this lack of knowledge of the deeper mysteries is shown as the path not being revealed yet. Yes, there is mastery of the mode of transportation, as well as forward motion. The Chariot moving to the right indicates a future pull.

In the Motherpeace Tarot, we see an Amazon riding the chariot and perhaps this makes all the difference: A female charioteer is more naturally connected to the mysteries. Her chariot is pulled forward by horned and winged beasts (not sure what to call them) and on the side of her chariot, there is a gorgon’s head. Nut is covering the sky and displaying Cancer, the crab, the corresponding Zodiac sign.

Though her chariot is moving in the direction of the past when the card is upright, in a round card, direction is not as important – We become more aware of the spiral pattern of the journey, and the fact that the circle is the only true representation of the illusion of time-space, as well as of the Divine Feminine.

For round decks you can read tilts as well as pure reversals. The backward tilt indicates a lack of confidence and willpower, whereas the forward tilt shows someone who is prepared to bulldoze over any opposition.


You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward. ~ Conrad Hall Click To Tweet



Lisa Frideborg

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