A large canopied chariot is drawn by two mythological figures. The combination dominates the card, leaving just enough sky to see it is cloudless, and that there is a walled city in the background, with a strip of trees between the walls and a river that flows behind the chariot. The canopy is adorned with stars to emulate the night sky. The armored charioteer, facing the viewer directly, wears a crown with a large prominent star. The left spaulder resembles a smiling moon, the right spaulder resembles a frowning moon. Upon the cuirass, over the breastbone, is engraved a square with no other adornment. The belt, slightly askew, is meant to remind the view of the zodiacal belt. Covering from the waist down are vertical strips of overlapping armor, marked with alchemical symbols. The charioteer’s left hand is bare, his right hand holds a tall, thin rod. No reins are present, nor any obvious means by which the beasts are attached to the chariot. Also, the charioteer is not standing in the chariot, but appears to be part of the chariot itself and is emerging from the block. The front of the block bears a shield marked with a rod penetrating a disk. The crest of the shield is marked by a small disk and two outstretched wings. On the viewer’s left, lying in repose before the chariot, is a black sphinx with a striped headdress, holding her tail. On the viewer’s right, in the same but mirrored post, is a white sphinx doing the same, but the colors of her stripes are the inverse of the black sphinx’s. Behind them, on the outside of the chariot, can be seen the two great wheels that the chariot will ride upon once underway.
One emerges from a decisive victory at war with a momentum and determination that carries far after the war itself has ceased. This is the kinetic energy represented by the Chariot. There is no Start, no Stop, only movement already underway and it is the Querent’s responsibility to direct that movement in productive ways for as long as possible. Here is more than just the dual drives of Fear of Failure and Fear of Success, there is also the need to control Unbridled Hubris beside Anxious Prudence. Hubris will quickly accelerate the chariot out of control but Prudence will bring movement to a halt by being overly cautious and afraid to take risks.
The Chariot is the Querent, and it carries all that the Querent holds in themselves. As such, if the Querent is rejecting any part of themselves, this handicaps their movement and makes it harder for the Querent to proceed evenly and smoothly. It is not the road or what is encountered on the road that is the obstacle, but the Querent themselves being worn down by unrecognized faults and self-blinding biases.
When this card appears in readings, it signifies a choice, or a series of choices, that the Querent has to make about how they are going to proceed with the issue at hand. Is the chariot suffering from a broken wheel? Is there something dragging on the Querent that is pulling them and their choices to one side? Are they truly prevented from forward movement by an external obstacle, or are they using the road as an excuse not to attempt to proceed.
Ill-dignified, the card calls out the Querent for allowing their fears, biases, or unchallenged beliefs to stop healthy movement, or allow the Querent to excuse or indulge in unhealthy or self-destructive behavior. If in a spread where the neighboring cards influence the inspected card, see if there are other matters that would allow the Querent to detour around the obstacle, or are otherwise influencing the control of the chariot.
No one can live the Querent’s life but the Querent. To allow anyone else to “drive the car” is to abdicate control of one’s life.