Tarot: Symbolism of the Chariot

Hermit’s view on Legion, Riven, and Galvyn as the Chariot
(ps. I apologize for the long wait, this one was really difficult to figure out.)

Trump 7 in the Revenant Tarot deck.
Trump 7 in the Revenant Tarot deck.

The Chariot is complicated, and frustrating. It is about getting what we want, implies battles and struggles, and hard-won victories over the obstacles in the way. It is a card of motion, yet everything is stationary. It is the sun and the moon. It is contradictory, and encourages one to be in control of their own destiny, which all of the people in the card, to some extent, are, even though their fates are interwoven in each other. It’s fitting that the most twisted story within the story belongs on the card that is arguably the most difficult to interpret.

The first reaction when laying eyes on this card for the first time seems to be, “that’s not a chariot. What does this have to do with anything?” But really, it is. The chariot is a mechanism that will not run if the parts are separated from each other. In the Rider-Waite deck, if you separate the chariot from the driver, the driver from the sphinxes, or the sphinxes from each other, nothing will move. It’s the same here, but with the movement being of the story, and not something physical. You need all of the people here for the ice to start cracking, which, it already has, if barely. If you separate Legion from Riven, or Riven from Galvyn, or Legion and Galvyn from each other, the ice stays put. It will not break. They all have a part in this story, if sometimes minor. In this case, the ice in which Riven is sealed is the chariot.

It follows, then, that Riven is the driver, and Legion and Galvyn are the two sphinxes. The driver of the chariot in the Rider-Waite deck, like Riven, has golden hair, and wears armor. They are conquerors. Riven, however conquers by willpower, and magic, rather than force. He wears the robes of an Archmage, a symbol of the spiritual progress made by human beings. The red orb clasp symbolizes unity and oneness, but unity by force and not by peaceful means. His eyes echo the color, suggesting that he is prepared to do whatever it takes to get the job done. He wears the colors of the sun, even though this card is lunar in energy. The charioteer in the Rider-Waite deck holds no reins, and controls his sphinxes by way of willpower. Riven draws these two together by his own willpower as well, if subtly. His mind is strong, even if his body is frozen.

Legion is the black sphinx, the negative, the yin. He is old, but conversely represents new ideas and ways of thinking, and the destructive power this can have over seemingly-steadfast ways of life. He’s a madman, in most regards, and carries with him the souls of people long gone. Galvyn is the white sphinx, young and shy, the positive, the yang. He finds solace and wisdom in the old ways, despite his young age, and young soul. He strives for the light, while being pulled ever closer to the dark. He is traditional, believing the tried and true to be better than chaos and change. These two opposing charges essentially are what break the ice, and get the chariot moving. They teach us that the desire for instantaneous, destructive action must be balanced with logic and patience to get anything done. It is a unity of purpose, but only that.

In the classical chariot card, the driver stands under a canopy of stars, and this is echoed here, with the background being the night sky. It signifies the presence of divine influence, and the will of the fates being played out in this story. The four elements are also represented here, if vaguely. Galvyn is dressed in green and mauve, representing the element of air. Legion is in black and brown, and stands for the element of earth. The ice of course, is a form of water, which holds back Riven’s fiery temper. The small crack in the ice, however, revealing the flash of yellow from Riven’s robes, indicates that whatever is overcome, while certainly a victory, will not be the end. Oh no, this is just the beginning.

The zodiac for this card is Cancer, the crab. The sideways-walker. It confirms the contradictory aspect of this card, being ruled by the moon, contrasting the driver’s sun. The crab, like the chariot in battle, doesn’t attack straight-on. The chariot moves from the side, catching the enemy by surprise. The crab moves from one plane to another and back again, water to land to water, which this card also does. It moves from conscious(Riven being awake) to unconscious(his current state) and eventually back again. This card inspires us to go inward for inspiration, or look at problems from a different angle. Either way, like the sharp pincer of a crab, victory will always be within reach.

The rune on this card is Raido, the rune of progress. It is always moving forward, seizing opportunities as they come, and knocking down obstacles in the way. It reinforces the card’s victorious aspect, as well as the power behind the ever-forward march of time. It is kinetic energy, and change, an energy not very present in the rest of the card, adding again to the contradictions. Riven, Legion, and Galvyn all have made progress on their own, but in this card, despite being completely contradictory to each other, the outcome is inevitable.

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