- Pictorial Key to the Tarot
- The Tarot
S. L. MacGregor Mathers
- General Book of the Tarot
A. E. Thierens
Succour, providence also war, triumph, presumption, vengeance, trouble.
Divinatory Meanings - Reversed
Riot, quarrel, dispute, litigation, defeat.
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.
7. The Chariot. This is represented in some extant codices as being drawn by two sphinxes, and the device is in consonance with the symbolism, but it must not be supposed that such was its original form; the variation was invented to support a particular historical hypothesis. In the eighteenth century white horses were yoked to the car. As regards its usual name, the lesser stands for the greater; it is really the King in his triumph, typifying, however, the victory which creates kingship as its natural consequence and not the vested royalty of the fourth card. M. Court de Gebelin said that it was Osiris Triumphing, the conquering sun in spring-time having vanquished the obstacles of winter. We know now that Osiris rising from the dead is not represented by such obvious symbolism. Other animals than horses have also been used to draw the currus triumphalis, as, for example, a lion and a leopard.
The Chariot - Triumph, Victory, Overcoming obstacles.
Divinatory Meanings - Reversed
Overthrown, Conquered by Obstacles at the last moment.
Symbolism of the Keys
The Chariot - This is a most complicated and important symbol, which has been restored by Eliphas Levi. It represents a Conqueror crowned and bearing a sceptre, riding in a cubical chariot, surmounted by four columns and a canopy, and drawn by two horses, one of which looks straight forward, while the other turns his head towards him. (Two wheels are shown in the complete single-headed figure.) It represents Triumph, and Victory of Justice and Judgment.
Description and Meaning
In the Seventh house of the evolutionary cycle the relation of the Self with the Not-self or outer world is contracted and completed and the 'organism' arises as the systematic whole of organs, a lawful microcosm, which in every instance is a phenomenon of the Cosmic Law, first significance of Libra. This idea is very well illustrated by the picture of the Chariot, drawn by the White and the Black Sphinx and governed by the Magician incarnate. It is the Self embodied. This card consequently means marriage, contract, body and bodily existence, organisation, achievement, co-operation.
Papus says this card has to do with the Hebrew letter Zain, which "represents an arrow." Now it is very curious to see, that in Hindu astrology the sign Libra is symbolised by an arrow touching an eye, evidently meaning the principles of the organism or systematic complex of organs, and at the same time the understanding, or knowing, which is the result of the eye seeing the light.
The Magician has become the 'Conqueror'; the forces of good and of evil both drawing his chariot symbolise the fact that good and evil, agreeable as well as painful experiences, make us wiser and contain the elements of Existence, spirit and matter both.
As a matter of fact the card may have to do with our adversaries.
On the front "we see the Indian lingam," says Papus we should like to add: in connection with the Indian (!) yoni, i.e. the union of the sexes, or the two in one (bond). Here the 'Fall' into matter has been completed. The sphinxes are female entities, the driver of the Chariot is a man. This not only symbolises the subjugation of Nature by will-power, but also the fact that, while inwardly 'woman rules the world' (the Empress), rulership in the outer world lies with man, and it is his duty to keep within due bonds the 'attractive' forces of woman, who, however, appears to be the personification of motoric force to him and his 'chariot.' That woman practically gives the inspirational lead and motive to man in this world is being openly recognised by psychologists in our time.