The Artist's Concept
Due to a serendipitous mistake, I put my name down for The Chariot instead of another card. As can occur when confirmation for the validity of what one has undertaken is desired, I stumbled across a wonderful sculpture while visiting a furniture shop in Melbourne, Australia: a life-size chariot being drawn by one the front section of one horse, as though emerging from the Chariot itself, with only the upper torso and head of the Charioteer at the helm.
Though owning a variety of decks, I judge the accuracy of a deck by its verisimilitude to the Tarot of Marseilles. Prior to working on the card, I meditated on its various attributes, renditions, and what I regard as its 'complementary' card (in this case, XVII The Star). During these meditations, I also 'entered' the card as the Charioteer, the perspective I then used in the completed card.
With regards to its depictions, I view the Chariot as being principally influenced by Plato's description of the three aspects of the Soul. The principle dialogues in which the three aspects are discussed are the Republic, in which the three are described as reason, emotion and the appetitive body; the Timaeus (§69); and undoubtedly the most image-laden, the Phaedrus, in which Plato describes it thus:
[§253] As I said at the beginning of this tale, I divided each soul into three - two horses and a charioteer; and one of the horses was good and the other bad [...]. The right-hand horse is upright and cleanly made; [...] The other is a crooked lumbering animal [...].
In the Marseilles rendition of the card, all three turn their heads somewhat towards their right (This is also true of Eliphas Levi's depiction, from which Colman-Smith's rendition for the Rider-Waite is based). But to what do they look towards, and why are they stationary? Here I have been undoubtedly influenced by complimentary pairings (VII & XVII), Plato's description of the Spiritual in the 'Allegory of the Cave' [book VII of the Republic], early Kabbalistic or Merkabah Mysticism, and the emblematical representation of the guiding Blazing Star - becomes the focus of the Soul as it seeks the Spirit. This is accentuated by having the Charioteer hold in his right hand a Uas, a wand of spiritual power.
Another aspect of all cards is that they are, in many ways, but crystallisations (or frozen sections) of whole scenes (in the same way that a photograph captures only aspects of a holiday scene one seeks to capture). Above the head of the left-hand horse is a representation of an artist painting the frozen image with which we are familiar - a reminder that each card is but an image of a living spiritual reality.
Above the right-hand horse is the Star of Hope, and above the left-hand horse, betaken with vanity and false pride, is the engraver of the image.
In interpreting any card in a specific reading, an image or part of an image should be allowed to speak for itself, and I am reluctant to say limit a reading by stating this card's 'meaning'. Taking what I have said above as a basis, however, the Chariot may very well indicate that triumph is or has been reached. What is of higher spiritual significance either must now be paid attention to, or that the spiritual flow which has permitted this movement to be reached needs to be acknowledged.
Reversed: a blockage in that spiritual inner and invisible guidance is either at an end or will be undone (presumably in order for further growth to develop).
The card was initially drafted within a Golden Rectangle (approximately 13 X 21cm) with a red LyraŽ pencil, over which further pencil work and LyraŽ water-based paints were used. The wand was painted with gold paint, a small part of which flaked off during posting... hence the patch.
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