VII – Chet – Cancer – Life
Conquest, Salvation, Progress, and Vitality
The Chariot corresponds to the Hebrew letter of Chet, the Hebrew letter of life. It represents both the life of God and the life of God reflected in the human soul; that light which fills one with energy and vigor. Chet is the pulsating hearbeat. Its form is also that of the letters Vav and Zayin joined, representing spending time in a community or the light of God as reflected in others. Since both Vav and Zayin also represent various forms of light, the letter Chet also can be said to represent light in its entirety. The Chariot as a reflection of this, then, exuding vitality and glorious light. This is the card of Caesar the Conqueror, and similarly to him, also represents moving forward (like the wheels of a chariot). The pictograph of Chet resembles a wall or fence, indicating a strength and fierce desire to defend (the Chariot’s wards).
The card of the Chariot, then, is filled with vitality and energy, shining with light. He is the savior and the conqueror, sweeping away the old and corrupt and replacing it with the new and progressive. He is an agent of fate, sweeping across the land to bring (hopefully) positive change to the world. The Chariot is also very strong-willed and focused, obsessed with conquering and dominating everything that stands in his way. He is a hero, helping others through his glorious feats, and bringing life and energy to the world. He carries the future in his arms (see the Thoth art), and himself has a sort of divine balance and is blessed by the Gods (see the sphinxes before the Chariot in the both illustrations); this card is also the card of Herakles. Both the Rider-Waite and Thoth cards show a confident, assured, armoured man in a chariot, moving forward inexorably on its wheels, yet pausing for a moment to look over their conquests. Their wheels represent the constant movement of time and fate, and the certain changes and progress that will come with time. The Chariot represents also hard control; using force to dominate others.
The Chariot’s astrological equivalent is, strangely enough, Cancer (as seen on the head of the man in the Thoth art); the symbol of caring and nourishment. This association reminds us that the Chariot’s will and domination is not one-dimensional; the Chariot’s conquest is not for personal gain, but rather because it truly believes that it can help protect and care for others (look at Caesar’s relation to his troops). Cancer still, however, represents a focus on the personal aspects of one’s life, and so the Chariot’s conquest might just be to comfort itself; the people might not really need its guidance, but the Chariot itself thinks that they do.
In the Tree of Life, the Chariot is the path between the Sefirot of Binah and Chesed. He represents the understanding and duality of existence (Binah) causing destabilizing motion (Geburah). This motion, however, is controlled by the strong will of the Chariot, as he conquers in order to reshape and recreate the world to help progress society and help the people. He understands exactly what it is he’s doing, and so has no problem with toppling stability and replacing it with understanding and giving it new potential.
In a reading, the Chariot asks you to examine the role of dominating relationships in your life, as well as progress. Have you conquered some new skill? Have you made a large acquisition? Are you at the top of your game? How do you use your energy? Have you faced down others in order to help those you care about? Reversed, this card’s energies are twisted or blocked somehow; perhaps their is conquest without progress, or progress without conquest. Are you really doing what’s best for those you represent?