When I see the Chariot, I think of bringing two opposing forces together in tandem to achieve goals, traveling distances, being successful through work and determination, and self-asserting yourself. Along those lines, each of us has likely been in at least one of those scenarios or in combination of more than one at the same time.
In my younger years, I did a lot of traveling; sometimes for fun, but a lot of time it was out of necessity (or what was thought as necessary at the time.) A lot of times, the journey was more like the Chariot reversed, which contained a lot of roadblocks and problems. Yet despite the difficulties, I was determined to make it work. Sometimes it was successful, other times it wasn’t. That’s the message of the Chariot upright and reversed.
When it comes to the Chariot representing actual travel, I’ve had my fair share of car troubles. Whether it’s a 1999 VW New Beetle dying on the side of a freeway after the alternator died (which is fun when all the warning lights light up and the speedometer is sitting at 0 km/h as you’re trying to keep up with traffic and a giant Greyhound bus is tailgating you), or a four-door Nissan sedan dying in the middle of the highlands of Iceland after the engine seized after midnight on a summer’s night, or just recently having a flat tire replaced after it was punctured by a nail (though that was the cheapest repair of the three situations), the Chariot reversed can indicate difficulties with travel, especially with modes of transportation that are wheeled. But, the spirit of determination will get you through it to be determined to reach your destination (even if it costs you extra money to get out of the car trouble.)
There have been times in my life when things were happening so quickly that I was trying to keep everything together in harmony. Sometimes decisions had to be made in order to move things in the right direction, which always left inner conflicts in my own mind left to be resolved. However, it was my determination to always remain successful in whatever I set out to achieve. That’s when you have to take the “reins” and literally lead everyone (and the situation) in the direction that you need to go to get on the right path again. Yet, when the Chariot is reversed in these situations, you’re barely treading water and keeping your head above it. The need to regain control is a great concern and to get solid footing again on solid ground.
The biggest example in my life of the Chariot and being pulled in two different directions was having a life in North America and a life in Iceland. I had traveled for a few years back and forth, having family in North America and a relationship in Iceland. Whenever I would leave one place for the other, it was always like leaving home, but at the same time going home. I didn’t want to leave, but at the same time I needed to go home – wherever I was leaving from. I was maintaining two “lives” so to speak of having home roots in North America and newly established roots in Iceland. I was determined to make my life in Iceland successful even at such a young age (under 21 years old), since I knew many people probably doubted me. Although, I was happy being in the town I was in, the relationship wasn’t what it should’ve been – yet, I was determined to make it work.
If my mum hadn’t passed away back home while I was living there, I probably would’ve (sadly) stuck with it for another few more months to possibly a year. It was a turning point (which could be more likened to the Wheel of Fortune and Death combined in this example – or the turn of the Chariot’s wheel) that made me forcefully need to take a different course. Within two days of hearing the news, I was on my way home and I established my roots again by finding a job a few weeks later in my hometown. I went back to Iceland three months later for the holidays, and after that it went downhill relationship wise. Long story short, that journey and chapter was coming to a close shortly after that visit and a new one began a few months later.
But, through out that whole time of being in Iceland, it was a constant struggle of keeping my head above water (financially and emotionally), keeping everything in tandem (home life in North America and life in Iceland), keeping my identity and “blending in” with my new surroundings, and trying to control my thoughts and feelings of my inner struggle with being far from home and not being able to achieve my original goals that I had set for myself when I had gone to Iceland in the first place.
A key point of the self-assertion of the Chariot in viewing this past relationship was realising what I wanted out of life and a relationship. I’ve always been self-assertive (especially with people that I’m comfortable around), but after coming out of that relationship, I realised that I don’t have to settle. In a relationship viewpoint of the Chariot, both parties take control of the “reins” and steer in the same direction together. By joining two lives together long the same path of one life journey, it keeps everyone working smoothly. I realised that in my previous relationship, I felt the burden of holding the reins for too long with forces that were beyond my control.
Learning from the Chariot gives us the archetypal force to show determination, perseverance, self-assertion, victory, success, honesty and bringing opposite forces together in tandem for a single purpose or direction. Things can move quickly like a speeding vehicle (or in this case a chariot) and fine movements are needed to keep it on track and in the right direction, but nonetheless onto a road of success. It may take high risk and involve adventure, leading you to new places and heights, but in the end can pay off.
With controlling your thoughts, emotions, energy and integrity, you can direct it to wherever you want to go. Like any of the other major arcana the Chariot offers lessons in life and becomes a part of who you are, whether past, present or future.