The Chariot – January 25, 2017. Phillip, June, and Joel.
We began with the Divine Alphabet up through Zayin (the 7th Hebrew Letter); then we moved the first part of the fifth petition of the Knight’s Practice [Edit December 2020: in the Grail Knight’s Practice, there is one mantra for “Hallowed Be Thy Name”, corresponding to the 1st Arcanum, The Magician, and the 1st Letter of the Hebrew Alphabet, Aleph. There is then one mantra for “Thy Kingdom Come”, corresponding to the 2nd Arcanum, The High Priestess, and the 2nd Letter of the Hebrew Alphabet, Bet. Then there is one mantra for “Thy Will Be Done on Earth as it is in Heaven”, corresponding to the 3rd Arcanum, The Empress, and the 3rd Letter of the Hebrew Alphabet, Gimel. “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread” has three separate mantra—corresponding to the 4th, 5th, and 6th Arcana (The Emperor, The Pope, The Lover) and the 4th, 5th, and 6th Letters of the Hebrew Alphabet (Dalet, He, Vau). Then, in the Grail Knight’s Practice, there are seven mantra related to “Forgive Us Our Trespasses, As We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us.” These seven mantra are related to the seven levels of trespass, the seven healing miracles in the Gospel of John, and the seven levels of communion. They are related to the 7th through the 13th Arcana (The Chariot, Justice, The Hermit, Wheel of Fortune, Force, The Hanged Man, and Death) as well as the 7th through the 13th Letters of the Hebrew Alphabet (Zayin, Chet, Tet, Yod, Kaph, Lamed, Mem) We began to work with this level of the Grail Knight’s Practice beginning with our work with The Chariot].
We read the opening Gospel quotes from The Chariot, and observed the first seven of the Arcana:
Where “1 2 3 4” is the first iteration of “YHVH,” and “4 5 6 7” is the second.
– The seventh is the first Arcanum that involves Action. Whereas the Magician simply displays the preparation for action. 1-7 is the path from intention to activity.
– The first animals in contact with the Earth are here presented – vs the Eagle emblazoned on the Shield in the Empress and Emperor. A mere picture of a beast of the air, that comes near the ground in the Emperor, as opposed to the horses that are living and in touch with the ground. The shield has transformed into the breastplate; the Eagle into the horses.
– The Charioteer is the fruit, the manifestation of the arrow piercing the conversation of the group in the Lover.
– The two faces, one on each of his shoulders. One seem more drawn down, drawn in, grave – due to the “feathers?” Are they feathers, leaves, tears? Expressive of emotion, of receptivity?
– There is a change in orientation – the acolytes are facing the Pope, who is in the background; then the companions are to each side of the Lover, who is still somewhat behind them; the Charioteer is front and center (flanked by faces on the shoulders?)
– This is the most angular image since the Magician. The card itself is very elaborate compared to the others, as is his clothing.
– The pillars have transformed from the solid pillars of the Pope, to four made of cord or fabric, with a spiralling pattern on them; meanwhile, the veil behind the High Priestess has moved upward to become the canopy. There are only blue pillars in the Pope, where the whole image seems to draw one into the blue expanse of his robes – a gesture of receding. Now there are blue and red pillars, with the red in the foreground – an energy of emergence from the card outward.
– The difference in foliage – the first time we have seen green foliage since the Magician, and so much of it – speaks of energy, fecundity. Both the Pope and the High Priestess are indoors; there is only dead foliage for the Empress and Emperor; the Lover has furrows of a plowed field.
– The Charioteer has the same arm gestures (on opposite sides) as the Empress – yet the arm which should be cradling a shield is empty. Is he resting his hand on his hip? It is also reminiscent of his hand holding reigns.
– The only two figures who have the scepter in the right hand are the Emperor and the Charioteer. All others it is on the left, although for the High Priestess the right side is emphasized. These are the three figures who seem to be bringing something to manifestation/culmination – or presentation. The Chariot even looks like a stage, with the faces on each shoulder like comedy/tragedy masks, and the canopy like the curtain. The Chariot is a bit lectern shaped.
– Arcana 4, 5, 6, 7 are somehow reminiscent of the story of the Prodigal Son. Father, Good Son, Prodigal, and his return? They are also images of the four members of man – Ego, Astral, Etheric, and Physical bodies.
– This is the first card with real conflict – between top and bottom, left and right, front and back – and hence with full dimensionality. There is only a hermetic connection between the top and bottom halves of the picture – no physical, material connection. It is reminiscent of Arjuna, and makes one think of the layers of conflict involved in the Bhagavad Gita.
– We had a variety of thoughts about what the initials SM could signify (sadism/masochism, servant/master, S=Devil M=Death), but are they simply the artist’s initials? (Note – I looked this up, and they are not. It is speculated that they mean Soufre et Mercure, or Sulphur and Mercury)
– The wheels on each side and somewhat behind the chariot are a premonition of the Wheel of Fortune – the second He in the third YHVH – The Charioteer, Justice, The Hermit, and the Wheel of Fortune. The 4th level of conflict/dimension – time, evolution, the revolving wheel, from which the whole chariot is emerging. In the Wheel of Fortune, the Charioteer has become the Sphinx, and the horses the monkey and the dog.
– The horses seem very unhappy, enslaved. They have the eyes of human beings – almost like they could talk (“all of nature groans in travail…”). On the other hand, the Charioteer is pristine, golden. The characters on his shoulders mirror the horses. The two horses are a bit like the two thieves – the blue one seems so angry, whilst the red seems sad and a bit resigned – whilst the Charioteer is a Christ figure.
– This card is occurring in the present moment, not eternally or outside of time like the others – he is in the midst of conflict, finding his own inner balance – all else has not yet been resolved/redeemed. He has only collected himself. This is the first time that true division and conflict has presented itself, rather than a simple polarity or contrast. A new dimension has to be dealt with.
– Like the table of the Magician that could extend indefinitely off the side of the page, the Chariot itself could extend indefinitely behind the card.
– The horses are incomplete. Are they united with the Chariot? Are they severely burdened? The Chariot seems to have evolution/animality embedded into it. It is a half-formed, incomplete evolution. The overall impression is like a kind of centaur, where the horses are there instead of legs. All three are fused into the Chariot. There is beauty and harmony above, but underneath there is ambiguity and ugliness. Beauty is tied to completion, ugliness to something half-formed.
– The question of whether one becomes a Tyrant or a Servant of all when one achieves Mastery. The imagery could express either. Love of ease during life on earth makes us the servant of Ahriman after death – we then cause pain for those we love who we have left behind. The wrong kind of Master. Versus a life of action and enthusiasm – this yields harmony, true Mastery. Superiority complex and inferiority complex – two sides of the same coin. Is his superiority linked to the inferiority of the horses below him?
– Tomberg says that true Mastery involves overcoming the pride and other effects resulting from Mastery. Is the Charioteer ignorant of the pain and conflict below him?
– The inverted Lord’s Prayer from the Fifth Gospel and the laying of the original Foundation Stone:
Witness of the severing I,
Selfhood’s guilt by others owed,
In daily bread now felt,
In which heaven’s will be not done,
For man deserted your kingdom,
And forgot your names,
You fathers in the heavens.
The imagery of the card makes one think of this prayer, especially the lines about the daily bread. Where does our food originate? From what pain and conflict, so that we can be at peace?
– The progression of the cards – inner harmony (Self Mastery) is achieved first. Only then can outer harmony (Justice) begin to be established. The Pope displays a kind of innocent instruction; the Lover shows us a potential conflict; the Charioteer an actual conflict.
– The biographical progression of the cards – the first 3 are conception, gestation, and birth. The Emperor = Moon years (physical body); the Pope = Mercury years (etheric body); the Lover = Venus years (astral body); the Charioteer = first Sun years, Sentient-Soul – the birth of the Ego at 21. This is a time when our outer supports begin to fall away, and we have to try to figure out who and what we are, how to take care of ourselves. Some people stop short at 25 or so – false mastery. Ignorance of what lies below (unconscious) – do we keep developing or not? Conscious vs unconscious – Carl Jung’s process of individuation, finding the basic layer of the Religious at the foundation of consciousness.
– The card, like individuation, is the “center of the Mandala” – the Mandala was originally in Buddhism the “Realm of Suffering,” peace at the center. In this card, there is a Vesica Piscis image in the center; in its upper portion is the breastplate, which mirrors the shield bearing the SM below it.
– There is a chalice shape concealed as well, with the stem of the chalice between the two horses, blossoming into the upper portion of the chariot. Transforming the lower into the “open cup.” The base of the “cup” is the Root chakra or Malkuth – penetration of the Earth. The four middle Sephiroth are represented – the “stem” = Kingdom, the Shield = Power, the Breastplate = Glory, and the Crown = Eternity. In fact, the geometry of the Tree of Life seems to be embedded in each card (e.g. the Pope is very clear), just different manifestations.
– This is the first proper crown – and the first that is open rather than closed.
– The Wheel – very machine like, an expression of the mechanical, automatic unconscious. Obeying forces unquestioningly. The Wheel is tied to evolution, but also the chakras. Mastery has to do with “solarizing” the chakras, the 7 archetypes or soul forces.
– One way of looking at it sees the Emperor as only holding his lower forces in check – whereas the Charioteer has transformed his lower nature into a Force in the world, a new being. Or one could say that he gestures to his belt in a similar way to the Emperor, but with a limp hand – he has let go of his belt, and now Pandora’s box is opened. What lies in wait if we are not vigilant.
– He is the first character in need of help! He was held in check by his companions in the Lover, now he is alone. It is the image of the “first attempt,” of trying something challenging for the first time.
We finished with the closing of the Grail Knight’s Practice.