Let’s have a look now at the card from the Major Arcana that’s associated (in the system I follow) with the sign of Cancer: the Chariot.
The Chariot is often depicted by a figure at the reigns of, not surprisingly, a chariot! In the Universal Waite deck (not shown here), the driver faces us, two sphinx below his chariot. The image in the Thoth deck shares that structure, with the driver of the chariot standing behind four sphinxes, meditating on the Holy Grail.
Other images show the Chariot in motion. For instance, in the Sharman-Caselli version, the chariot is being pulled in different directions by two horses. Can you feel the power and the pull here?! I’ve come across a number of meanings for this card – struggle and tension, the need to bring things under control, making decisions after carefully weighing up all the options.... but the over-riding theme seems to be about managing contradiction or conflict - finding a middle path, perhaps?
So where’s the association with the sign of Cancer? I like the way that Gerd Ziegler describes it, in his wonderful ‘Tarot: Mirror of the Soul’. The armour is “a symbol of Cancer’s protective shell.... In times of breakthrough or new beginnings you need the protection and support of a loving atmosphere which provides a sense of safety and security.”
For me, this provides the clue as to how to deal with the tension within the Chariot’s meanings – the potential aggression or indecision, the struggle, the pull of different options.... Having family or close friends behind us as we face those decisions, or deal with that conflict, can help – it can give us that secure bait se from which to set off in our chariots.
Hermann Haindl’s image provides a different take on the Chariot. Here we have a boat on the waves giving us the link to water, as well as the Moon, symbolizing our instincts and our innate responses. The ‘beast’ represents whatever it is that ‘hunts’ – or ‘haunts’, perhaps? – us, the thing we fear, the thing that makes us move forward for fear of what might happen if we don’t. This version of the card implies that we allow the power of the waves to carry us though the challenges facing us, and by so doing, allowing ourselves to open up to new possibilities.
Likewise the Shadowscapes’ Chariot – we still have the chariot and charioteer, balancing without the need to hold onto the reins, but with the sense of travelling over water. The turtles represent ancient wisdom from which to draw on.
Haindl Tarot created by Hermann Haindl, published by US Games Systems, Inc.
Shadowscapes Tarot created by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore, published by Llewellyn
Sharman-Caselli Tarot created by Juliet Sharman-Burke, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, published by Connections
Thoth Tarot created by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris, published by US Games Systems, Inc.