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The Chariot Meaning – Smith-Waite Centennial

The Chariot card rides in today to remind all of us that we have the power to move forward even when our bodies are limited or confined. If you're social distancing or quarantining right now because of COVID-19, or if you're confined for other reasons, today's free tarot reading offers some respite.

As number 7 of the Major Arcana or trump suit, The Chariot card is all about the soul and its journey through life. And as a disabled woman, I always take particular comfort from this card. It reminds us that assistive devices and mobility aids can connect us with the world. And perhaps more importantly, it also tells us that the mind and spirit can effect change even when the body's limited.

Are you honouring the magic that dwells within you? From major discoveries to everyday fun, the intellect can send you on a journey today.

The Chariot tarot card from the Rider-Waite deck, pictured with a Unicorn of Scotland thimble on a navy background. A detailed card image description is in the body text of this article.

The Chariot card in the Smith-Waite Centennial tarot deck

In Pamela Colman Smith's iconic version of The Chariot card, we see a resolute figure bedecked in the trappings of arcane power. Occult symbols abound in this tarot card, from the eight-pointed star on the figure's brow to the etchings in their armour and the Masonic mallet on the chariot's coat of arms. 

Of particular note in all the celestial imagery. Alongside the star I just mentioned, do you also see the crescent moons at the figure's shoulder? And check out the canopy above their head. It's patterned with yellow stars on a field of elegant blue that evokes the sky at dusk. And on the front of the chariot itself, wings of the same serene blue represent the power to soar—accessing the secrets of the universe through spiritual or intellectual pursuits.

Meanwhile, the actual sky in the card is a vivid yellow. And this contrast underscores this card's distinction between the physical world and the world of the mind. Similarly, we see the figure in The Chariot departing from the mundane world. They leave a bustling but enclosed city in their wake as they head straight toward us, with an air of regal determination. This is a figure who's confident in their own mental powers. They're entirely devoted to intellectual matters. Armoured with the symbols of arcane knowledge, they also hold a sceptre instead of a weapon, representing the power of the mind.

And perhaps most significantly, The Chariot advances by magical means! It's pulled by two mysterious sphinxes rather than traditional beasts of burden. Look closely. Did you notice that the Sphinxes aren't actually attached to The Chariot physically? There are not reins or yokes here. Instead, The Chariot moves forward on the power of the charioteer's mind. So this card both represents the literal access to the world that wheelchairs and other mobility aids afford us and the figurative access to the world that we can all unlock through the pursuit of knowledge.

If you feel trapped physically, let your mind take you on a journey

The Chariot is an especially complex tarot card with a lot of symbols and themes. But the meaning of this card in today's free reading is simple! If you're feeling like your body is confined today, unable to engage with the physical world the way it wants to, then consider this tarot reading your invitation to escape through the intellect. It's a cliché to suggest that your imagination can take you on a journey. But it's nevertheless true, and this journey doesn't have to be escapism, either. You can use knowledge to deepen your connection the "real" world as easily as you can use it to escape reality.

Lack of physical mobility or access can be deeply distressing, and more of us are grappling with that struggle than usual right now. In the throes of the grief that this kind of experience can inflict, it's easy to lose sight of the options we still have to grow and explore. And while it's important to give ourselves space to process this grief, as the Five of Cups reminded us recently, today's appearance of The Chariot asks you what it would be like to lean into mental exploration.

Some resources to expand your mind

There are myriad ways to tap into The Chariot's mental energy to nourish your spirit and care for yourself. From reading a book to writing a journal, from doing an experiment to playing cards or chess, today's tarot card asks you to spend some time in the mental world. Whether on your own or socially, you'll find opportunities to challenge or expand your mind especially fruitful today. Which options are resonating with you?

If you're an erstwhile academic like me who still loves a good peer-reviewed study, you can check out JSTOR's open-access materials that are available to the public. And if you're looking for a less rigorous or more social way to focus on the mental world today, why not check out some board games that you can play online? They're a great way to connect with friends and family—or to make new internet friends—when the physical world isn't so accessible.

And of course, as a professional tarot reader, tarot readings are one of my favourite ways to think deeply about my life and the world around me. They're a wonderful way to challenge yourself with new perspectives or consider new solutions to ongoing problems. I offer online readings, in writing or via live video chat sessions. My books are open, and I'd love to consult the cards just for you.

S.M.