Here we are at The Chariot Key 7 and the last Key on the first row of the Tarot Tableau. It symbolizes a summary of all of the Keys that have gone before on the first row. It’s a favorite card of mine and I call it the Victory card! Here is the Charioteer, your Inner Self in charge of your life. In the Upanishads, part of the secret teachings of India’s most ancient scriptures, you are considered already victorious in the game of Life, so let’s find out what that means.
Your Inner Self is eternally victorious. On the front of the chariot is a shield, your protection on this journey, made up of the Indian lingamyoni below, which is a symbol of the perfect union of opposites, positive and negative forces, and the generating power of the universe. Above the lingamyoni is a blue-winged golden globe symbolizing the most powerful god in ancient Egypt, the sun god Ra.
An essential feature of this Key is that it represents the Middle Way, not the extremes of right or left, depicted by the two lovely sphinxes. The way of the Inner Self is in the Middle, the place of Mastery. On the Tree of Life the Middle Path is up the center of the tree, from the Kingdom up through Foundation and Beauty straight up to the Crown. This is also the path of the priesthood. Yet in order for you to understand and follow the middle path you need to realize that there’s no separation between you and your inner self. And you’ll need to create confidence about that awareness through experience.
We are not God, but we are made His image. It is the spirit, or Self, in each of us that makes our lives interesting, to ourselves and to each other. The Self is the Charioteer, the triumphant rider in the vehicle of personality. This Tarot image is a mirror of yourself.
How is the Chariot a summary of all the Keys in the first row? The Magician is our self-conscious, directive power. The High Priestess represents the memory of all that has gone on before, the all-inclusive aspect of the sub-conscious mind. The Empress signifies the power of active imagination seated in the sub-conscious mind. The Emperor is our ability to constitute our lives in a fashion that is acceptable, not only to ourselves, but also to the Law of Life Itself. Our intuitive faculty is indicated by the Teacher. The Lovers Key symbolizes the keen discrimination necessary to unscramble all of the different events that are dynamically interacting in ourselves.
The words receptivity and will are attributed to this Key. Receptivity was suggested by the Magician’s gesture, he holds the hollow wand up in his right hand signifying that our support comes from within. Key 7 is the reward for the Magician’s mental efforts. The Tarot looks upon the use of will as being an impersonal faculty. It is a living, motivating power behind the entire universe, which means that every person can access it on an equal basis. But it’s not a possession. We use this power based on our ability, which we have to develop.
Let’s discuss the numbers, colors and symbols on Key 7 that express receptivity and will power. The number 7 symbolizes equilibrium, which is the concrete application of the laws of symmetry, balance and reciprocation. By extension it means mastery, poise, rest, conquest, peace, safety, and victory. These are the attributes that need to be developed in our personality.
The meaning of the Hebrew letter Cheth (Ch) is fenced field or enclosure. Notice a very small fence in the lower right hand corner of the card. In man the field is his personality. The preparation of your personality is from your Inner Self. So this implies that the personality can be cultivated, worked on, repaired where necessary. And through that task it becomes the instrument of your spiritual progress.
Speech is a function of this Key, in the sense of enclosing a thought with words, building a fence around it. The yellow background indicates thought, which precedes speech.
Astrologically the sign of Cancer, a water sign ruled by the moon, is related to this Key. Note the symbol for Cancer in the lower right hand corner of the card. This is your protection by the mother aspect. There are two half moons on his shoulders. Take a look at the High Priestess Key and the lunar symbology on that card. The crescents show receptivity and two of them relates to rhythm, cycle and repetition. Two also signifies polarities – two extremes of one idea.
The blue stream of consciousness from the High Priestess flowing past behind the Charioteer signifies potential growth. His Chariot rests on a field of green, the color of love and Venus. Venus is also represented by the brass of his breast plate, which provides the protective power of creative imagination and love. The cypress trees in the background remind us of the Empress. Gold on his neckline and ornaments means he actively uses solar forces, which come through the Self.
The One Self guides Its vehicle using invisible reins of mind control. The stone Chariot represents the physical body. The sphinxes symbolize the senses and the desire-nature on the emotional level. “I like” is the white sphinx. “I don’t like” is the black sphinx. These polarized forces use the same energy in opposite directions. How to overcome this chaos created by our desires is the problem that’s solved in this Key.
The Charioteer’s left hand is holding the invisible reins of mind. The mind and where you focus it is the means of controlling everything in your life. If you’re unconscious, this can be a disaster for you. When your mind has its attention on, and listening to, the Self, it knows what it wants and how to achieve it. You took lessons on how to drive a car. This is no different. In the beginning the rewards are meager, but as you get the hang of it, and hopefully, pay attention, you find that your hearing, seeing and other senses begin to wake up on a spiritual level.
The Charioteer’s belt indicates Time, as a representation of the Zodiac, in a slanted circle of the ecliptic. His Scepter combines a lunar crescent with the solar figure 8, thus his dominion results from a combined power from the sun and the moon.
The Grail cup held by the dove of peace denotes his function of receptivity and the ability to use his will with complete confidence, based on experience, including the gift of transmutation. You have lifted your consciousness enough to enter the spiritual life. The gift of transmutation means you have the ability to change the nature, or structure, of a physical form or substance. Hmmm.
The Charioteer’s body is in a cube that represents the physical universe. His head is in the upper part, in the cosmos, where it belongs. His canopy of stars indicates the presence of the High Priestess. Four pillars support this canopy, each ringed with the spirit in the form of the four elements. His crown has three golden pentagrams, signifying his mental dominion over natural forces.
Under his crown is a wreath of green leaves, which symbolizes that the green leaves of plants bind sunlight, just as they bind his hair. Capturing sunbeams and binding them into organic form, making the Life-power available for your use, is a principal work of chlorophyll, the green coloring matter of plants.
The revolving motion of the orange chariot wheels express solar energy. The wheels also relate to the whirlwinds of Fire in the vision of Ezekiel from the Old Testament.
Another important part of the symbolism is that the Chariot is on the other side of the river from the city. “The other shore” is a metaphor for emancipation. You and I have left the city because it represents the complex conditioning of race-thought, the thing we must analyze and overcome. The city is real in the sense that real beings live there, yet to understand the One Reality, we must remove ourselves from distractions. The red rooftops signify the activity of a city.
The square on his chest with the three black T’s shows the limiting power of Saturn. Here we have the symbol for discrimination. The 8 folds of his skirt with talismanic symbols show dominion over earthly forces. We must learn to discriminate between reaction and motivation. You will never get rid of your desires. But, as the Charioteer, you’ll be able to look at desire and see what’s going on and, thereby, no longer be a victim of chaos. Karma is desire-nature reacting to what’s in your limitless memory bank, over and over and over again. Here life has the ability to reflect upon itself and wisdom becomes our salvation. We can enjoy everything, but we must remember that the veil over the Self deludes us into thinking that we can possess it.
The Cabala says that the mind moves the body. So get out there and learn how to drive! The Tarot is here to help you! The scepter, your symbol of sovereignty, is a combination of the crescent moon and a figure eight, a sun symbol. The number 8 signifies balance, which means that it is the number of balancing both the material and spiritual aspects of your experience. When the sub-conscious mind (moon), the means of achieving everything, is teamed up with the higher aspect of the self-conscious mind (sun), you’ll be able to see where you’re going and how to get there.
The Bhagavad-Gita says, “The Self is the Rider in the chariot of the body, of which the senses are the horses, and the mind the reins.”