The night is dark, the road is long, but the charioteer carries a lamp to light the way:
"When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long
Alternatively, in other decks the charioteer carries the Holy Grail, again symbolising light in darkness. Often the chariot is drawn by the four sphynxes, the lion, the bull, the eagle and the man, which sub-divide to represent the sixteen sub-elements. In other decks the Chariot is drawn by two sphynxes, symbolising the interplay of light and dark, positive and negative forces which shape our lives.
Carl Jung talks of a dream he had, where he was travelling alone along a dark and lonely road. The wind howled, and he beacame aware of a dark beast pursuing him. In his hands he carried a candle. The flame flickered and nearly died. He knew that the only thing that mattered was to keep the flame alive; the flame was his spirit.
But the card also warns against over-confidence and that pride comes before a fall. This is the ceremonial chariot of the conqueror of antiquity, leading the triumphal procession. Usually a slave followed behind whispering: "look not so proud, for the gods are jealous". The greatest enemy of success is success.
The Chariot is card seven in the major arcana and so carries the seventh letter in the Hebrew alefbet, Zayin (Z). It aso carries the zodiacal symbol for Cancer. This is a card of balance and optimism, especially in the face of adversity. The card represents the shaping of our destiny and surmounting difficult odds. It also represents travel and movement.
It took me some time to think of a tree to represent the chariot but I eventually decided that the hazel fits the bill. It represents movement between this world and the otherworld, between light and dark, heaven and hell, reality and non-reality.
To view our article on the Hazel CLICK HERE
Known as Coll or Cuall by the Celts, it was one of the most magical of Celtic trees and always associated with poetry. Its nuts were believed to contain the essence of poetic inspiration. The "Well of Wisdom" where the Salmon of Wisdom lurked was surrounded by nine sacred hazel trees. The Salmon of Wisdom ate their fruits and thus imbibed knowledge of the otherworld. King Arthur eventually finds the divine child, Mabon ap Mordron ("Son of the divine mother") beside just such a pool.
Hazel wands were, in Druidic lore, linked to the element of air and were used to summon magical power and inspiration from the otherworld. Hazel was also linked to water and hazel dvining rods were used for dowsing. Catkins resemble lambs' tails and if they appeared in January they hailed an early spring. At Beltane, the hides of cattle were singed with burning hazel wands to ward off evil spirits.
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