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The Major Arcana In-Depth: VII The Chariot

chariot horses

This is an article in a series in blog posts…. the “The Major Arcana In-Depth” series! Every few weeks I will be featuring one card of the Major Arcana, from the Fool to the World. Come take a tarot journey with me!

To learn about the Major Arcana overall and the first card in the Major Arcana, The Fool, go here.

To learn about the Magician, go here.

To learn about the High Priestess, go here.

To learn about the Empress, go here.

To learn about the Emperor, go here.

To learn about the Hierophant, go here.

To learn about the Lovers, go here.

That galloping chariot

The Chariot (along with the 8 of Wands) is a card most associated with speed. What’s interesting about this card is that speed is, well, relative! When we talk about life path, there is much to be said for following the beat of your own inner rhythm. There is also something to be said with stepping to when the pace is different than what you are used to, and going with the flow.

When we talk about the symbols associated with the Chariot tarot card, it is best to describe it as Plato’s “Phaedrus” Allegory of the Chariot and the Tripartite Nature of the Soul (click the link for an in-depth explanation).

The Charioteer is the Soul: one horse is the Mind, and one horse is the Body. It is the Charioteer’s job to rein both horses and make them work together toward his common goal. Without mastery over the disparate parts of ourselves, we accomplish nothing and we stay stagnant. In this regard, the Chariot card of the tarot is about SO MUCH MORE than the simple key word of “speed.”

I have been working with the Mary-el Tarot this month for card of the day posts, and found the description in the companion guide for this deck to be particularly pertinent (and succinct in describing these larger concepts of Soul/Mind/Body): “Plato described the Chariot as a metaphor for the soul, in three parts. A black horse, a white horse, and the Charioteer called Reason that lashes them together and drives them.”


Some interpretations of the Chariot from my card of the day posts:

🐴 “Combine opposing wills in order for both to do your bidding.”

🐴 “Seek an alternate route if you are not gaining traction the way you’ve been doing things or the path that you’re on.”

🐴 “How can you use additional time to your advantage?”

🐴 “Full steam ahead!”

🐴 “Unless you grab the reins now, you cannot be held responsible for the speed at which things progress.”


Traditional depiction in RWS: Charioteer, dark sphinx, light sphinx [alternately, some decks will use a white and a black horse]

Keywords: speed, vehicle, tempering opposite directions to gain forward momentum


Applicable Quotes:

“One must strike the right balance between speed and quality.” —Clare Short

“In truth I suspect that merely slowing down is not a very satisfying answer. What I need has less to do with my pace of life than my peace of life. At any speed, I crave a deep and lasting inner peace. And if it’s solace I’m after, I don’t need to pace myself like a turtle, change jobs or set up house on a quiet island. It is usually frenetic living, not high energy, that robs my peace of mind.”—Steve Goodier

Personal Meanings

What I think of when I see the Chariot: This depends on the client, the reading, and the other cards in the reading. But overall, I tell the client that we all have opposing points of interest and people vying for our attention, but it is up to US to control our lives, to take the wheel and point us in the direction we wish to go, and the speed with which we proceed.

When The Chariot Shows Up in a Reading

Upright: Speed and motivation is a major factor going on right now. Remember the adage of “get it done fast or get it done right”, and adjust pace accordingly if you can to make sure to make speed your ally instead of your undoing.

Reversed: Adjusting your pace to suit the will or the needs of others. Someone else is the driver in the situation, and you are merely the passenger/observer. Allow the responsibility of the pace to fall squarely on the shoulders of those who are setting it. This may be a situation in which you would like to control a smaller portion of it rather than the whole shebang. Analyze closer to see if/when you should take the reins from someone else.


Ultimately, if/when you read for yourself, please keep the things I listed above in mind… and if you disagree, PLEASE use your own meanings for this card. Your thoughts on each individual card are invaluable, and lead you to a multi-layered understanding of the tarot that no one individual book/Little White Book/teacher can give you. Your experience with the cards counts, too!

Tarot class dismissed!


Image courtesy of satit_srihin at

How do you relate to the Chariot? Share your experiences in the Comments section below.

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