Thursday, May 9, 2013

Carpe Diem #192, The Chariot (VII) Tarot

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Another step forward in our journey through the Rider-Waite Tarot-deck. Today I have drawn The Chariot (VII) and I am curious of what this episode will bring to me as of course it's not only a journey through the Tarot-cards, but also (to me) a quest for deeper knowledge and maybe spiritual growth.

The first thing which came in mind as I started preparing this episode was a nice music video of 'Chariot of Fire', by Vangelis

An other thing which came in mind was the ascension of Elijah (2 Kings 2: 11). I will reproduce these verses here-after:

10 “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.”
11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 12 Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two.

And of course I hope to explore this as we look at the R.W.-Tarot card of The Chariot (VII). Let us look somewhat closer to the card:

What do we see?

We see a powerful, princely figure sits in a swift chariot, pulled usually by two sphinxes or horses. There is often a black and white motif, for example one of the steeds may be black and the other white. The figure may be crowned or helmeted, and is winged in some representations. He or she may hold a sword or wand, or other masculine symbol.

in his chariot
the prince of Israel
sings his battle-song

Another view is that the mood of the card may be characterized as that of conquest. It represents a battle that can be won if the Querent has the willpower for it. The battle is usually an external one, with a clear goal and plan of action. Qualities needed to win the battle include self-reliance, righteousness, conviction and plain hard work. The steeds represent powerful forces, internal or external, that can be controlled to achieve the goal.

The chariot is one of the most complex cards to define. On its most basic level, it implies war, a struggle, and an eventual, hard-won victory; either over enemies, obstacles, nature, the beasts inside you, or to just get what you want. But there is a great deal more to it.

The Chariot is a fascinating card, but also frustrating. It is armored, but also cut off - a charioteer fights alone. It moves from one plane to the next (water to land and back again) - conscious and unconscious, earthly and spiritual.

fascinating chariot
once used for battle
now universal

(*) This is referring to the Mer-Ka-Vah, an intergalatic way to travel between dimensions as some ancient scriptures describe. Maybe you are familiar with 'The Flower of Life', an esoteric and spiritual set of books written by Drunvalo Melchizedek.

The Chariot has many allusions to the kabbalistic Ma’asei Merkavah. According to Waite, the figures on the charioteer's shoulders are supposed to be the Urim and Thummim which were divinatory tools often used by the Israelites for guidance during times of war. Waite describes the charioteer as conquest on all planes — in the mind, in science, in progress, and thus able to reply to the riddles of the sphinx, even though he is not of priest and thus unable to answer to the High Priestess.

I love to step out of this card for a little moment to share some more about Urim and Thummim, an ancient way to find answers on difficult questions and depicted on the shoulders of the charioteer..

Urim And Thummim(light and perfection).

When the Jewish exiles were met on their return from Babylon by a question which they had no data for answering, they agreed to postpone the settlement of the difficulty till there should rise up "a priest with Urim and Thummim." (Ezra 2:63; Nehemiah 7:65) The inquiry what those Urim and Thummim themselves were seems likely to wait as long for a final and satisfying answer. On every side we meet with confessions of ignorance. Urim means "light," and Thummim "perfection." Scriptural statements.--The mysterious words meet us for the first time, as if they needed no explanation, in the description of the high Priest's apparel. Over the ephod there is to be a "breastplate of judgment" of gold, scarlet, purple and fine linen, folded square and doubled, a "span" in length and width. In it are to be set four rows of precious stones, each stone with the name of a tribe of Israel engraved on it, that Aaron "may bear them on his heart." Then comes a further order. In side the breastplate, as the tables of the covenant were placed inside the ark, (Exodus 25:16; 28:30) are to be placed "the Urim and the Thummim," the light and the perfection; and they too are to be on Aaron's heart when he goes in before the Lord. (Exodus 28:15-30) Not a word describes them. They are mentioned as things-already familiar both to Moses and the people, connected naturally with the functions of the high priest as mediating between Jehovah and his people. The command is fulfilled. (Leviticus 8:8) They pass from Aaron to Eleazar with the sacred ephod and other pontificalia . (Numbers 20:28) When Joshua is solemnly appointed to succeed the great hero-law-giver he is bidden to stand before Eleazar, the priest, "who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim," and this counsel is to determine the movements of the host of Israel. (Numbers 27:21) In the blessings of Moses they appear as the crowning glory of the tribe of Levi: "thy Thummim and thy Urim are with thy Holy One." (33:8,9) In what way the Urim and Thummim were consulted is quite uncertain. Josephus and the rabbins supposed that the stones gave out the oracular answer by preternatural illumination; but it seems to be far simpler and more in agreement with the different accounts of inquiries made by Urim and Thummim, (1 Samuel 14:3,18,19; 23:2,4,9,11,12; 28:6; Judges 20:28; 2 Samuel 5:23) etc., to suppose that the answer was given simply by the word of the Lord to the high priest comp. (John 11:51) when, clothed with the ephod and the breastplate, he had inquired of the Lord. Such a view agrees with the true notion of the breastplate.

Urim and Thummim

Or maybe Urim and Thummim looked different just like this:

Urim and Thummim

Urim and Thummim
thrown up to heaven, falling down,
finally an answer

Structurally, the Chariot follows The Lovers. After the impulse that pulls us out of the Garden, we get on our chariot and depart. At that point, we are the Hero of our own story; maybe the Hero of everyone’s story. That Hero might represent Helios, the Greek god who drives the Sun’s chariot across the sky, bringing light to the earth. The Chariot is Key Seven of the Major Arcana, it represents the possibility of traveling through the mysteries of the universe.
The Chariot is related through cross sums (the sum of the digits) to Key 16, The Tower. Much like the Chariot takes us from our womb, our happy home, our happy village, or our planet, the Tower carries us from either what we have constructed for ourselves, or what has been constructed for us.
Some authorities say that he is the God of Spring, the Son of the Queen of Heaven. The canopy of his chariot is her starry gown; he wears the waxing and waning moon on his shoulders; the circle of the Zodiac is his belt. He channels energy from the world above (signified by the eight pointed star on his brow) to the world below (signified by the square on his chest, the four corners of the Earth). The star can also represent the infinite, the square the earthly spheres of time and space.

the charioteer
travels between time and space
without boundaries

Can I place this card in connection with the Kabbalah? Let's try ... it will not be easy I think, because this card has so much different layers, but I have to ... So we are taking a step back and look at the card again.

The charioteer stands in his chariot in his chariot wearing battle armor and a golden crown. This would lead us to believe that he is royalty on some level. In front of the chariot—where one would expect to see horses—we see two sphinx-like creatures, one black, one white. They are lying down facing away from each other. There is a river behind him and a city can be seen beyond the river.  He holds a golden staff in his right hand (our left) and his hands are held in the attitude of holding the reins. But—now things begin to get weird—there are no reins and the chariot appears to be made of concrete and sit firmly on the ground! Even if the sphinxes were standing up, and pull in the same direction, they would be unable to move this ungainly weight! The entire picture portrays frozen action—suspended animation! Although the charioteer appears to be ready for battle, everything in the picture shows that he is NOT.  He is waiting! Waiting for what? Esoterically, one of the key words for this card is "Receptivity." The card symbolizes receptive waiting for divine guidance. 

divine guidance
awaiting before going to battle -
the charioteer

Remember—all of the Tarot cards are symbols for some human action or trait. This one is no exception. It is telling us that when we face a situation wherein we can't decide what's right and what's wrong, we need to go into the silence (meditation) and listen for our Higher Self, our Superconscious Mind, to guide us. We need to be receptive, to listen. It often comes as an inner feeling, "This is right," or "This is wrong." These inner feelings are our Higher Guidance. If you don't feel right about following up on a possible decision, chances are very good that you shouldn't do it. By maintaining this receptivity to your Higher Guidance, you can be led in the right direction. 
In this way we can easily connect with the First Triade, Kether, Binah and Chochma, of the Kabbalastic Tree of Life. Higher Guidance, isn't that what the Holy Spirit stands for? Giving us guidance through meditation and contemplation. And so we can say: 'The Spirit of God was hovering over the Waters' (Genisis 1: 1(b))

hovering Spirit
all that was before Creation -
divine guidance

Now—how can we understand this card as a reflection of the Creator? As the Creative Principal moved from the Sphere of Understanding on pathway #7 and towards the Sphere of Severity, It (He, She, etc.) realized that, while understanding is necessary, there is a time when a definite set of rules must be enforced (Severity). And It must listen for guidance...WHAT???  Guidance from where? This is The Creator !!!
Now—we need to remember that the Creator had nothing to work with in building His (Her, Its) Creation other than Its own Matter; there was/is nothing else available. So, it stands to reason that everything It created was fashioned with the stuff of God. That includes what we think of as good, and that which we consider bad. It is all part and parcel of the Creator, God. How else could it have been created? There was nothing else to go by!
So, The Creative Principal had to listen to all parts of Itself,  to get guidance—to go by what it felt like.  And again—It had to get Its guidance from Its Whole Self because there was/is NOTHING ELSE! The Creator was receptive to Its own guidance!

Source: Garden of Eden

This brings us to the following: (just my idea, my feelings) The Charioteer is God, The Creator, and he stands for his greatest task "creating Earth". He starts, as we look at the Tree of Life, in the last sephira, Malkuth, the base of the Tree of Life, the roots of that wonderful Tree of Life. By letting Him guide by His Inner Self (The Spirit) He travels along the paths on the Tree of Life and creates Earth. In Tiphareth, the sixt sephira, the place of Christ Consciousness, revelation and Enlightenment, He lingers for a little time ... and creates His greatest Creation ... man (Adam) and his spouse (Eve) and than He ascends to His Throne on Kether, The Crown, the highest sephira ... the sephira of everlasting life and beauty, everlasting knowledge and ... starts His task to give mankind and his surroundings guidance through His Spirit. His creation wasn't an easy thing to do, but He succeeded ... after taking time to seek for guidance ...

creating the Earth
sounds like He did it in a eye-blink
so He didn't

And so ends this episode of Carpe Diem's journey through the Tarot, the divine Tarot, of The Chariot (VII). It was really a struggle this time, because of the multiple layers in this card, but I think I have explained why this Chariot (VII) also has a deeper positive meaning with roots in the Holy Scripture and with roots in my own Philosophy of Life in which 'unconditional love', as seen trhough all the Tarot-cards 'til now, is crucial, important. Without that I couldn't excist.

I hope you all enjoyed the read and I hope it inspired you to write haiku and share them. This prompt will stay on 'til May 11th 11.59 AM (CET) and I will post our new episode, a Special by Kyoshi Takahama, later on today around 10.00 PM (CET). I will give you all already the haiku by Kyoshi here-after.

Spring breeze !
on the hill I firmly stand
with the great resolve


  1. Superb write-up Kristjaan - and some really powerful haiku - especially the one on the hill.

  2. Wow. this is interesting... and a lot of strong haiku. I really like this.. though I take an alternate route with my chariot as usual.

  3. Another very detailed post with excellent haiku Kristjaan. Your the charioteer, travels between time and space to me off in a little blue box ;)

  4. Wow! When do you sleep? Very well integrated post ~ you are, indeed, an 'enlightened being' ~ Thanks for hosting such a divine site ~ happy weekend to you ^_^

  5. WoW...quite the information to digest...what a lot of work for you.
    This was a doozy. Thank you for the challenge on the chariot tarot card.