Written by Kate Sheridan, Guest Author
All opinions expressed in this article are the sole perception/experience of the writer, and may not necessarily be shared by Michelle Lewis – The Blessings Butterfly. All Rights Reserved.
Have you heard that 2023 is a Chariot year, according to the numerological and symbolic language of the tarot? All we have to do is add up the digits in the year — 2+0+2+3 — and we get 7, The Chariot.
Last year was a 6 year, The Lovers, and I wrote that this card is not about a particular love interest in your life but rather about your innate worthiness to give and receive love. The Lovers archetype asks us to integrate dualities so that we can see through the illusion of separation and understand that everything IS Love. In some early tarot decks, this card was called “Choice,” and part of its medicine is to challenge us to make choices that are truly heart-centered and aligned with ‘the better angels of our nature.’
What choices did you make in 2022, large or small, and how do they reflect (or fail to reflect) your values? Looking ahead to 2023, is there anything that you must leave behind that is not in integrity with your heart’s truest desires for yourself and for your community? Conversely, what tools, new or old, will you now take up and wield in service of your desires?
This is where The Chariot comes in.
What Are You Waiting For?
If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you’ve been doing a great deal of inner work since 2020 at least. You’ve been refining your values in an increasingly unstable world, and you’ve taken steps to live according to those values, even if it means embracing big unknowns. Despite the uncertainty, you’ve developed a vision of YOUR best life — and now The Chariot says, “What are you waiting for?!”
Let’s begin with our definition from the ‘Little White Book’ that accompanies the famous Smith-Rider-Waite deck. In this divinatory tradition, The Chariot points to “triumph,” especially of the spiritually-aided kind: “succor” in hard times, “providence” from a higher power. In a traditional, predictive reading, this card can indicate that one’s current effort will be successful: an entrepreneurial idea will thrive, a new relationship will stick, a conflict will soon be resolved, etc. In this classic imagery, notice the charioteer’s sturdy armor, his relaxed face and hands, his gleaming crown and magic wand.
Yay! It can really put a pep in your step when The Chariot is on your side. What do you hope to achieve in 2023? Set yourself up for success: How do you resolve to consistently choose your best life?
Digging deeper than ‘fortune-telling,’ we can explore the esoteric spiritual principle of each tarot card — the ‘secrets’ that are the meaning of the word arcana — which, in the case of The Chariot, is the ability to bring your personal will to bear on the world around you. Seen through this more soul-centered lens, The Chariot is not about a future victory so much as a present commitment to stepping into the fray of your life, not about the thing you want finally happening TO you so much as you believing that you can make it happen FOR yourself.
The Chariot is an invitation to take the reins of your own destiny!
But the irony is that, often when we pull this card in a reading, we don’t feel particularly confident about whatever it is that we’re hoping to achieve. We may feel battle-worn rather than triumphant, or maybe like a novice instead of a hero. A lot of times, there is a new journey ahead of us but, for whatever reason, we have not yet committed to taking the first step. Our heart has made a choice, but now the mind is hesitating. Wavering. Second-guessing.
Notice how the chariot itself looks heavy, like it’s made out of stone. Cumbersome. Daunting. It’s drawn not by horses but by black and white sphinxes, colored and positioned at odds with one another. Could this be the duality, contradiction, and feelings of separation that we worked so hard to integrate in The Lovers? The red symbol on the face of the chariot, the yoni and lingam, indicate that we are still finding our way to maturity, the Union of opposites. The yin and yang of life are energies that we must work to master, as a rider trains his horses — and yet, this work never ends.
You already have everything you need.
When I pull The Chariot for a client, I often use the metaphor of a cross-country road-trip: “You’ve been planning and preparing for weeks, maybe even months,” I’ll say, “and now your car is all packed up. It’s time to go! Even if you get to the end of the street and realize you forgot your toothbrush, are you really going to turn around now? You have the resources and wherewithal to buy another toothbrush. You already have everything you need.”
You already have everything you need. For what?
Well, many tarot readers break the twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana into three groups of seven (with the Fool at the top) and consider The Chariot to be the end of the first line. The famous tarotist Rachel Pollack characterized these three lines as Consciousness/ Subconsciousness/Superconsciousness. Others have called them Life/Death/Rebirth, where what is dying is the ego, i.e., the self with a small s undergoing a spiritual evolution that yields a greater sense of purpose in the world, among others and in connection to Source — Self with a capital S.
The implication for 2023, then, is that we are all nearing the end of a period of conscious personal development and ego-formation — and we’re gearing up for a collective underworld journey in the coming years that will help us die to the old world and, eventually, be reborn into the new. And this new world is one that we must build together, in community, with all its contradictions, alienations, and separations.
What succor and providence are YOU calling in, lone charioteer? What allies do you hope to meet in 2023? What comrades? What guides along the road?
Although the evolutionary cycles represented by the tarot are always unfolding, in us and around us, there is an air of urgency now, a certain “EVOLVE OR DIE” kind of flavor to things, given the many existential threats that loom in today’s world. And although we’ve been going through it for the last couple years, I get the sense (I hate to say it) that the rubber hasn’t really met the road yet.
It seems to me that each of us has learned a great deal about sovereignty and spiritual development during these difficult years, in part because we’ve all woken up to how broken our collective systems are. They don’t protect us — WE protect us. We have to build new systems within our communities, but before we can do that, each of us has had to build a healthy self-concept. We’ve had to forge our personal armor, maybe even reinvent the wheel, in order to build a chariot that can carry us through these apocalyptic times.
Only this way will we get where we’re going.
What Is YOUR Chariot?
Your chariot is your spiritual practice, life-affirming even as you contemplate mortality. It’s your devotion to your own well-being, healthy boundaries both firm and permeable. It’s your hard-earned sense of self — but you hold it oh-so-gently because you know that none of this, really, is in your control.
Here’s what I’ve been feeling as we transition into this Chariot year: What if we already know who we are? What if (for now) we’ve done enough healing? What if we’re not broken, but instead already whole — just as The Lovers urged us to remember?
What if we’ve attended enough workshops, purchased enough self-guided modules, laid in child’s pose long enough, regulated our nervous systems enough, healed our childhood wounds enough, unpacked and repacked and dealt with enough of our trauma? What if we’ve invested enough time, money, and energy into our inner work and now we’re ready to pay it forward, ready to make bigger, bolder choices in our communities? What if we’re ready to put Love into action — together?
Take a peek at The Chariot card again. Notice the astrological and alchemical glyphs on the tunic of the charioteer, a symbol of cosmic wisdom deeply integrated within the individual.
The answers you seek were never in the workshops, the tools or the practices, the cards and horoscopes and new moon rituals.
They were in YOU all along.
We already have everything we need.
Kate Sheridan is a tarot reader, astrologer, and sacred space facilitator who calls herself The Laundress. Locally in Seacoast New Hampshire and Maine, Kate offers in-person tarot readings and sacred circles inspired by the pagan Wheel of the Year. You can connect with Kate on Instagram @themodernlaundress or book a virtual tarot or astrology reading at www.thelaundresstarot.com. (Keep your eyes peeled in early 2023 for her Chariot Year offering!)