"What is my will, and how will I use my power?" That's the question asked by the THE CHARIOT / THE CONDUCTOR cards. What follows is a comparison of the imagery and interpretation of the Rider-Waite, The Haindl, and the Collective Tarot decks' respective 7th of the Major Arcana cards.
Rider-Waite shows a victorious warrior leader crowned with an 8-point star, still wearing armor and being pulled into the city gates from the riverside by a sphinx-led chariot. The chariot isn't moving yet- the sphinxes lie in wait. They are complete reverse images of each other- one is black with white stripes, the other white with black stripes. And the figure in the chariot is almost manically decked out in images which, as Rachel Pollack points out in the New Tarot Handbook, all come from the previous seven Major Arcana cards. Using all that the fool has learned, he now dresses himself in all of it at once, and attempts to celebrate his victory. The will of the driver of the chariot is all that is needed to steer- there are no reins. But the sphinxes are at rest- do they disobey their master, or is he simply not ready to enter the gates so lavishly bedecked? Is he stuck in indecisiveness? Does he have all the power and control and is he afraid to use it?
Haindl has one of the most active and dynamic cards in his entire deck in the Chariot card. A figure in a white robe on fire rides on a golden glittering cube on top of a bright red boat with enormous wheels, while a boar or wolf-like creature the size of a stormcloud blows the wind behind, and a waxing moon floats above it all. The rune Hagall, or "hailstone, and the Hebrew letter Cheth, or "fence", along with the symbol of the Zodiac sign for Cancer, also accompany the card. There's so much going on here! Rachel Pollack in her book The Haindl Tarot: The Major Arcana, enlightens why this above many other cards in Haindl's deck is so vivid. The card's numerological significance is tied in many ways to Haindl himself. "Haindl has described the Chariot as his card." she explains. She relates part of his story as a prisoner of war, never knowing when he might die- as tied to this card's nature as conquering the fear of the reality of death. Interestingly, in the Collective Tarot's booklet, Moe Bowstern describes the Roman ritual of a returning war champion, who had someone ride along with a hand on his shoulder and a whisper in the ear a reminder that "you will die someday"- in order to remember balance in glory.
Collective Tarot features water as well- rather than a man-made vehicle the subject rides on the backs of two orcas, otherwise known as killer whales. Badassery abounds. Holding a waxing gibbous (nearly full) moon in one hand and a crab (Cancer) claw in the other, with a crab as a crown, this watery being clothed in fishnets also has feathers for facial features- indicating the airy intellectual who has mastered the watery depths of the emotions. Using the power of the mind to control the waters of the heart, the Conductor is victorious in combining her individual power with that of the sea's. The nurturing soul of Cancer signs is depicted in many parts of the Moe Bowstern's artwork, the Collective artist who created this card and its accompanying description. "As time goes on, the conductor crashes" Bowstern writes, warning us to be aware of how we use our most powerful selves, knowing that all the power in the universe is at our disposal, and while we are able to harness it all at once, to do so is temporary and unsustainable.
Thanks to @inthe78cards and @thetruthinstory for hosting this month's awesome challenge on Instagram!