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In a recent post, I identified the seventh trump in the Major Arcana as my Year Card for 2015. This is the card of The Chariot.

In the standard Rider-Waite-Smith deck, the image of the Chariot is that of a fair-haired man standing strong and triumphant in a chariot pulled by sphinxes – one white and the other black.

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Now for a confession: while I did my earliest training with the Waite deck (a common one for beginning such studies), I actually am not all that fond of it. I don’t find the images to be very appealing nor am I crazy about the color choices; I find them to be too garish and too cartoony for my own taste. When I do choose to work with this particular deck I usually shift to using the Universal Waite deck, which keeps the original images but uses softer more appealing colors drawn in a lighter hand.

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The blond male represents conscious mentality combining with subconscious powers. As he stands in his chariot, he holds control and balance over the outer realm of the senses, represented here by the sphinxes. With such balance over his emotional and mental qualities, the charioteer is thus able to control his sensitive moods, remaining unaffected by their negative and positive fluctuations.

This suggests that 2015 will be a year for using my head instead of my heart. I will need to keep my emotions in check so I can deal with issues in a calm and logical manner.

The black and white images of the sphinxes represent the balance of negativity and positivity; or in a more Pagan view, the balance of darkness and light. You can’t have one without the other. The trick is to learn how to balance one against the other, so that one can reap the mutual benefits of both. At the heart of the matter, this is what the Chariot card is all about.

Balance isn’t exactly my forte. I reveal now that I have Bi-Polar Disorder, and the ensuing highs and lows that accompany such. Maintaining an even keel doesn’t always come easy. The Chariot is a reminder of the importance of doing so, and also suggests that this will be a year where it does in fact become easier.

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Coming as it does right after the sixth trump card of The Lovers, one interpretation of the The Chariot is that it represents the moving on after leaving the Garden of Eden – of climbing into one’s chariot and departing. Having made the decision offered in the Lovers card, the Chariot indicates the moving ahead with such a decision, and being able to do so without getting caught up in egotism, materialism, or glamour. Having made a decision to write and publish a book, I can now move forward to its completion, without getting caught in delusions of grandeur or the trappings of fame.

At the same time, it needs to be remembered that these two cards are not consecutive for me. I did not have The Lovers last year – actually my card of 2014 was The Devil, the fifteenth card of the Major Arcana. The last time I had The Lovers card was ten years ago, in 2005. I also had the The Chariot in my last cycle, as my Year Card of 2006. Now I am revisiting this card, climbing in my chariot yet again. What makes it different this time around?

Perhaps it is the very fact that I am leaving this past year of The Devil and entering a new year with a new cycle, which begins with The Chariot. I’m moving away from fear and a sense of oppression and entrapment to a feeling of freedom, a newfound focus and confidence which will allow me to surge forward towards my goals and brings me victory and a sense of accomplishment.

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Actually there are some similarities to be found in these two cards. They are both cards of duality – in the Devil we see duality as stasis: the male and female characters are enslaved in fixed and separate identities; while in the Chariot the driver harnesses and balances the competing pull of opposites to work together in forward motion. They are also both cards of primal forces. The Devil’s force holds humans in bondage – he is the power, the addiction, the surge of things that we can either break free of or draw strength from. And yet one must be careful, as even the Devil’s strength can become an addiction that will either kill us with the surrender of our own egos or that we will expend more strength fighting to break free. The Chariot is the card of journeys – of forces that bear us from our intended path, the card of the warrior who is cut off from any influence but the road under his feet and the control of the opposing powers at his command.

So who or what is the Chariot? He is the conquering hero, symbolizing victory. But he is more than that. To drive such a vehicle at high speeds requires total control over the animals (usually horses); such activity illustrates the concepts of control and powerful will – significant meanings of this card. So while it is a card of achieving victory, it also asks the question of winning at what cost? Coming as it does after a year of dealing with the Devil, it cautions me not to carry the impact of that year by going to the other extreme – raising my ego to such a triumphant level that I end up controlling rather than resolving the basic conflicts of life; the wrongful application of the Devil’s strength.

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It’s important that I keep that ego in check, and work on self-control and self-discipline. If I give free rein to my instincts and emotions, they could easily tear me apart – resulting in losing my temper, having a mental breakdown, or injuring myself in an accident (perhaps even in my own chariot, i.e. my Honda SUV).

Yet while the card has its negative qualities (as all cards of the Tarot do), used in a proper way the Chariot can be the indication of a successful year – the combining of balance, self-control, discipline, and will can result in the victorious overcoming of problems and difficulties. This will be a year where those highs and lows I often experience will become more stabilized, my emotions now harmonized with reason and intellect. This is a card of self-mastery, of mental power and correct judgment being combined with love, sensitivity, and mercy towards others. This will be the year of my becoming the warrior, championing a cause or serving others. By utilizing all these skills and harnessing all my energies, I can move forward in a definite direction towards the accomplishment of my goals.

This is the year in which I can affirm:

By harnessing all my forces toward my purpose and controlling my fears, I victoriously meet my challenges.

 

Special thanks to the tarot teachers whose work has influenced this blog post; amongst them being Mary K. Greer (to whom I must credit the above affirmation), Rachel Pollack, and Marcia Masino.