by Arthur Edward Waite, originally published 1910.
An erect and princely figure carrying a drawn sword and corresponding, broadly speaking, to the traditional description which I have given in the first part. On the shoulders of the victorious hero are supposed to be the Urim and Thummim. He has led captivity captive; he is conquest on all planes—in the mind, in science, in progress, in certain trials of initiation. He has thus replied to the sphinx, and it is on this account that I have accepted the variation of Éliphas Lévi; two sphinxes thus draw his chariot. He is above all things triumph in the mind.
It is to be understood for this reason (a) that the question of the sphinx is concerned with a Mystery of Nature and not of the world of Grace, to which the charioteer could offer no answer; (b) that the planes of his conquest are manifest or external and not within himself; (c) that the liberation which he effects may leave himself in the bondage of the logical understanding; (d) that the tests of initiation through which he has passed in triumph are to be understood physically or rationally; and (e) that if he came to the pillars of that Temple between which the High Priestess is seated, he could not open the scroll called Tora, nor if she questioned him could he answer. He is not hereditary royalty and he is not priesthood.
by S. L. MacGregor Mathers, originally published 1888.
Triumph, Victory, Overcoming obstacles.
Overthrown, Conquered by Obstacles at the last moment.
by A. E. Thierens, originally published 1930.
In the Seventh house of the evolutionary cycle the relation of the Self with the Not-self or outer world is contracted and completed and the ‘organism’ arises as the systematic whole of organs, a lawful microcosm, which in every instance is a phenomenon of the Cosmic Law, first significance of Libra. This idea is very well illustrated by the picture of the Chariot, drawn by the White and the Black Sphinx and governed by the Magician incarnate. It is the Self embodied. This card consequently means marriage, contract, body and bodily existence, organisation, achievement, co-operation.
P. says this card has to do with the Hebrew letter Zain, which “represents an arrow.” Now it is very curious to see, that in Hindu astrology the sign Libra is symbolised by an arrow touching an eye, evidently meaning the principles of the organism or systematic complex of organs, and at the same time the understanding, or knowing, which is the result of the eye seeing the light.
The Magician has become the ‘Conqueror’; the forces of good and of evil both drawing his chariot symbolise the fact that good and evil, agreeable as well as painful experiences, make us wiser and contain the elements of Existence, spirit and matter both.
As a matter of fact the card may have to do with our adversaries.
On the front “we see the Indian lingam,” says P. we should like to add: in connection with the Indian (!) yoni, i.e. the union of the sexes, or the two in one (bond). Here the ‘Fall’ into matter has been completed. The sphinxes are female entities, the driver of the Chariot is a man. This not only symbolises the subjugation of Nature by will-power, but also the fact that, while inwardly ‘woman rules the world’ (the Empress), rulership in the outer world lies with man, and it is his duty to keep within due bonds the ‘attractive’ forces of woman, who, however, appears to be the personification of motoric force to him and his ‘chariot.’ That woman practically gives the inspirational lead and motive to man in this world is being openly recognised by psychologists in our time.