Futhark Village

Tarot Major Arcana – The Chariot

The Chariot is similar to the Rune ᚱ (Raidho), but only in so far as they both represent movement. But a cart represents something very different from a chariot. A cart is a tool that helps someone laden down with goods to move freely, exchanging and interacting with other people as they go. A chariot is a weapon of war, allowing one to move forward even if there are obstacles in your way. It bears more of a resemblance to the bull, ᚢ (Uruz), which might pull Raidho’s cart than to the cart itself.

The Chariot is a card of getting your own way by an act of will. Sometimes that will mean standing firm when the chariot of another idea is barreling toward you. Sometimes that will mean driving forward past those who would stop you. It is a card of discipline and certainty. This kind of discipline can lead in a lot of directions: To the wealth of ᚠ (Fehu), to the conflict of ᚦ (Thurisaz), even to the parenthood of ᛜ and ᛒ (Inguz and Berkano). 

The Fool’s Journey

Odin is one of the few gods not depicted as riding a chariot. Thor famously has a chariot pulled by goats, and Freya’s chariot is pulled by cats. Odin, on the other hand, favors his eight-legged horse Sleipnir. 

In the Harbardsljodh, Odin is depicted as having a ferry. A ferry working properly would be a normal meaning for The Chariot. I don’t normally deal with reversed cards, but a reversed Chariot will resemble Odin’s stubbornness, which bars Thor’s goat-borne chariot from returning to Asgard across the river. 

Many Tarot decks show a prominent orb or disc in front of the charioteer. The Giants Tarot (center) points out that in many mythologies, the sun and the moon are represented as the wheels of great chariots, including our own Sunna and Mani. This compares the situation described by The Chariot to the unstoppable forces of the sun and the moon. It also reminds us that even seemingly unstoppable forces can come to an end. 

Another symbol present in many decks is a pair of sphinxes in front of the chariot, one dark and the other light. Despite being in front, they do not appear to be pulling the chariot. Sphinxes are mythological monsters from Egypt and the mythologies that take place there (including the story of Oedipus The King, in which he slays one by answering its riddle). Sphinxes are generally portrayed as quite hungry, ready to eat humans. This is not dissimilar from the way wolves are portrayed in the Eddas. 

The Darkwood Tarot shows an eagle descending with its talons outstretched toward us. If we were a mouse or other small animal, this would be terrifying. That is the energy of The Chariot: the unstoppable force.