The Chariot is the 7th card of the Major Arcana in the tradition of the Tarot, a number which corresponds with movement, progress and victory.
The symbolism of the card itself represents contradiction with one white horse and one black carrying the chariot while the charioteer has to choose a path of balance between his opposing feelings and directions, without which the attributes of the number 7 become difficult to achieve.
To choose a midway is often easier said than done. There are our basic instincts led by the black horse while there is the higher nature, our white horse. The Chariot seems like a reflection of the psychoanalytic theories developed by
Sigmund Freud to explain human behavior.
For Freud, the person comprises three parts, the Id, the Ego and the Superego. It is the relationship among these aspects of the mind that makes us what we are. The Id and the Superego are the black and the white horses respectively, while the charioteer is the Ego.
The first two are in constant conflict with each other while the third is the moderator in our internal struggle.
In the pursuit of our goals, the mind has to undergo the drama of all the voices, which most often lead to tangles, ranging from trivial to life threatening. With a lot many battles going on inside our heads, one can only feel overwhelmed by the need for effective resolution.
Here are 3 important reminders from the Chariot:
1. Separate negative bias from allostatic load
The surroundings we infiltrate for our processes and goals to happen are hardly uniform. There are stations which function smoothly while others need constant repair and at times, rebuilding. The potential for conflict increases and so does the pressure.
According to the late neuro-endocrinologist, Dr. Bruce McEwen, allostatic load is good for achieving a particular goal. Chronic stress in gaps and intervals preceding a performance is beneficial.
But too much of cortisol is, sadly, not beneficial for the equilibrium inside. Andrew Neiman may need the ruthlessness of Terence Fletcher in limited dosage for an exploration of the former’s talents. (Whiplash, 2014).
The trouble comes when this pressure is combined with negative bias, sending the mind towards a downward spiral.
For instance, there is a situation at work where two tasks are contradicting each other’s completion. Both need your constant attention simultaneously but you can only observe one at a time. Since being cut like an avocado isn’t really an option, you consider others like delegation, overtime, outsourcing and so on.
While viewing all of these solutions, the mind can take on a heavy load of thinking consistently about both the tasks and come up with a creative fix.
But if during the stressful situation, our minds are bothered with negative expectations, thoughts and visualizations, the entire event takes the wrong turn, making it difficult not only to concentrate but also, to maintain a calm inner decorum, essential to reach the desired.
The black horse aligns with thoughts and ideas which are more of the unconscious self-seeking nature while the white horse is inclined towards the conscience and the ideal self. The ego or the rider has to think up a way which takes account of all situations and scenarios, pros and cons, resources and dead ends, to reach a decision which not only considers itself but the surroundings too, taking a holistic and fulfilling approach.
In this case, the ego shouldn’t have the bandwidth to keep negative or detrimental assumptions, and rather be open to experiment, with full focus on the final result.
2. Reviewing timelines
Freud defined the ego as ‘that part of the id which has been modified by the direct influence of the external world’. The importance of the ego lies in how it balances both the horses and retains its rationale amid diversified thoughts and opinions, systems and reactions.
The ego receives a practical solution when it constantly assesses and reassesses the goal timeline, where the other two, the Id and the Superego are also at play.
In the movie, The Devil wears Prada, Miranda Priestley gives Andrea Sachs a series of difficult tasks. Andy tries her best to keep her name in Priestley’s good books. Her performance is excellent at work but Andy’s friends and boyfriend send her on a guilt trip for being dedicated to her job. In the story some events, like dinner with friends and attending a work call clash, making it difficult for Andy to meet both.
Each individual has a set of goals, personal and professional, like getting a promotion, going on that expensive vacay, keeping a pet, owning a car, having a social circle and so on. Each of these achievements require a unique combination of the three musketeers in us. More often it doesn’t really work in our favor to let events or engagements contradict each other, those which we can control.
Therefore, it is always important to revisit our goals, for the day, the month, the year, the next 5 years or howsoever we may prefer. For sure we may miss out on many things, but the damage of losing or even the feeling of loss can be minimized. Instead of setting impossible benchmarks, we can think of reasonable plots, which lead us to the ultimate destination.
For starters we can organize our daily time for everything. Also, for helpful results, our mind needs constant back-up, in terms of serotonins and problem solving cognition. How does that happen, we wonder!?
3. Keep a sound board
There is always something to learn from our surroundings, especially the living. For our minds to stay encouraged, motivated and sorted, we need a sound board of support groups, pets, friends, loved ones, hobbies and whatever that makes us feel the connect.
They provide the minerals and nutrients to the roots of a healthy psyche. They help us stay objective towards our goals when we hit a rough patch or in some cases, rock bottom. They share their strength with us when we feel weak. These sound boards remind us that making mistakes and being vulnerable is okay, that falling makes you stronger and resilient, that trying must be consistent and the journey can be beautiful.
Find your Rancho, (3 Idiots, 2009) who motivates you to do what your heart actually wants and keep them when you do. Let Benji (Benji, 2018) teach you courage and love. None of us can function in solitude and expect to succeed.
So next time, your chariot is about to be torn by the white and the black horses, give your sound boards a knock and watch the soothing energy reverberate through your mind and wriggle you out of the difficulty.
The Chariot is a reminder that there is always a solution to a problem. We may not see it first hand, but if we do make an effort to look, we might be surprised at how simple and magical it could be.
The art of tarot reading has been associated with problem solving attributes for those who seek thoughtful direction or beneficial insights. In the map of our active minds, the scope for war is tremendous but so is the opportunity for discretion and victory.