[Translator’s note. This trump contains some of Marteau’s most opaque prose, and anyone in possession of the original text is welcome to offer suggestions for revision.]
The number 7, as an odd number, represents an activity and, by this number, the 7 states in all things, such as the 7 notes of the scale, the 7 colors. It is represented in this Card by 3 + 3 + 1: the first ternary, of a material order, consisting of the chariot and the two horses, which is to say, by a mass and two dynamic poles; the second ternary, of a spiritual order, defined by the two masks and the man himself, who presents his two faces and his reality; finally, the unity suggested by the sceptre, which is his means of action.
This will be explained in the course of this description of the Card’s attributes.
General and Abstract Meaning
This Card represents SETTING SOMETHING IN MOTION IN THE SEVEN STATES–that is to say, in all domains.
The Empress and the Emperor represented the two poles of material power, considered on their own terms, that is to say, in themselves and not with respect to movement into action. The chariot is the physical vehicle of Man; it is also an expression of material power and, more specifically, of action performed by Man on the Earth, and symbolized by the figure depicted on the Card.
It follows Card VI, since Love, when it exists as a divine spark, gives to humanity the power necessary for producing its manifestations in the material world.
The scepter, terminating in spheres, symbols of cosmic matter, manifests the power which Man, once born, is in possession of on this material plane.
His golden crown has the same royal significance, but, while the scepter in his hand expresses the power of law, such power is represented by the scepter as mental and as unstable as the scepter is. This power is based on the aspects presented by the four elements of the same Cosmic matter, just as it is indicated by triangle made up of four small spheres which surmount the crown.
His blue, metallic cuirass states that humanity, in its ascendant and dangerous movement forward through the material world, must be thoroughly dressed in spirituality in order to protect itself. It is white in the upper part, near the collar, and yellow in the lower section, because this spirituality must be directed by the intelligence which is of a divine nature and forms part of the cuirass.
The stages of this movement forward, as well as the interior states which accompany it, are indicated by the details engraved on the figure’s cuirass. In fact, we count fifteen points, divided into three series on the chevrons. The first two are composed of six points each, making a total of 12. This symbolizes evolution, and forms a polarization in which the upper and lower psychism (in other words, the spiritual and the passions) are in opposition to one another and in this way bring about each other’s evolution. The third series consists of three points representing what serves as bases for the psychism of the 12 points which are: the appetites, responding to the more base aspect of Man; feelings, responding to his central and intimate aspect; the desires, responding to his higher and mental aspect. The chevrons are separate from one another to indicate that the points of the lower psyche, marked on the lower chevron, will not exceed their placement in the psychic order of things, as these points represent the spiritual possibilities of an incarnate human being, possibilities which, limited by the psychic plane are not able to extend into the abstract. However, the lower chevron defines, by its position on the blue area, a plane which allows a physical body to penetrate the arcana of psychism. The upper chevron manifests another plane in which it is sufficiently elevated to go beyond the arcana of physical existence, enter the mental plane, and so permit the spirit to escape from the body. In sum, these two chevrons indicate the two spiritual planes possible for a psychic being.
The four points appearing on the yellow lower border of the cuirass represent the four states born from spirituality on the psychic plane.
The cuirass consists of three parts to show that, in accordance with his evolution, Man is able to choose one part of the cuirass and abandon the other or put on all three parts and assume complete possession of the spiritual protection which it has to offer him.
Under this cuirass we see a red tunic, representing the material world which it is necessary for Man to cross in order to evolve.
His right sleeve, being red, signifies that he derives his active power from matter and his yellow sleeve that he assumes passive states of intelligence. The small red flaps coming out from under the mask on his left shoulder symbolize the material world which his yellow arm must rupture, stretched out by his intelligence.
The two masks placed on his shoulders show that the visage of Man incarnate weighs on him and is nothing but a transient creation. And there are two of them: one which is created in the present and the other from the past which he retrieves, but neither is more important than the other. This is because they are small. They are red because they have been created by Man’s passions, and surrounded by yellow, since this is able to lend them strength by his own intelligence, and so fix for them a momentary life; in other words, each man loses a face which his intelligence is able to find or to recreate with great exactness, but this is of little importance over time.
This duality expressed by the two masks answers to the internal and external faces of Man, the first one by the left mask, his psychological aspect, the second by the right mask, his active side. Their horizontality, a mark of passivity, situates them in the intimate regions of Man; and the pieces of fabric indicate, in addition what was covered already, the fluid emanations of his psyche, fluids which penetrate the material world and so give the mask a fulcrum of support.
The figure’s yellow hair establishes the superior role of his own intelligence.
The chariot symbolizes the currents which lead Man along and oblige him to act without cessation. It also signifies that man is enclosed within his own passions by a stability entirely relative to himself, because it is driven along and carries him with it. The pillars, by their spacing, show that he is able to escape towards what is Above and that he remains in his chariot car only by virtue of the passivity which keeps him in the material world. Red in front and blue behind, these represent the equilibrium between the spiritual and the material worlds which advances the human race.
The flesh-colored canopy–the veil of our physical existence–as it is above him, it curtains off the sky, but it is light enough to be removed if one wishes.
The wheels of the chariot, flesh colored as they are, symbolize the cycles of life. The 12 studs visible on the wheel represent the 12 stages of evolution which Man must pass through in the course of his life, as well as the 12 forms of temptation which are able to assail him in the course of his evolution.
Spiritual activity, polarized in the material world, is represented by the red horse, and the blue horse symbolizes polarization in the spiritual world.
The ground, yellow, indicates that man only advances through his reliance on his understanding of the Divine, and the tufts of grass which are green are the image of the hopes which are born out of this with the progress of his advancement.
Orientation of the Figures
The face of the figure is positioned so as to indicate that his action must be direct, and the heads of the two horses are turned to the left to indicate that intuition is necessary for progress.
Specific and Concrete Sense
The name “THE CHARIOT” has been given to this card to indicate a tangible entity that, while advancing, symbolizes the idea of embarking and of progression. More generally, these are the material currents which lead Man and oblige him to be constantly in motion.
Meanings as they Relate to the Three Planes
MENTAL. Realization, but with neither gestation nor inspiration. In other words, giving shape.
ANIMISTIC. Display of affection, a female protector, beneficial, helpful.
PHYSICAL. Great activity, rapidity in one’s actions. Good health, strength, hyperactivity.
As it relates to money, expenditure or gain, transfer of funds. It signifies also unexpected news, conquest. It can be interpreted equally as speech propaganda and, depending on where the card falls, good news or slanders.
INVERTED. A bad card, indicating disorder in everything through evil activities whose effects are difficult to gain control of.
In sum, in its fundamental sense, “LE CHARIOT” represents the perilous travels of Man in the material world as he strives for spirituality, through the exercise of his powers and the mastery of his own passions.