In its most basic sense, The Chariot symbolizes success and mastery. It takes skills to unite and direct multiple opposing forces - as represented by the pair of sphinxes in the Rider Waite depiction, and when The Chariot appears in a reading, it’s a sign that this is being successfully achieved. Where The Lovers brings harmony through the power of the heart, compassion, and joy, here unity is brought about through the direction of the will. The strength of the enquirer’s personality has triumphed over any contradictions inherent in the situation.
The Chariot can also indicate ambition and the feeling that comes from being in control of the world around us. And, in this, we need to remember the key to fully understanding the message of this card: its name is The Chariot, not The Charioteer. Ultimately, we can only achieve our desires when we choose to climb aboard and steer towards them.
If, when appearing upright, this card represents maintaining control in some potentially difficult situation, then reversed it points to those same disparate or conflicting elements gaining strength and overwhelming us: we cannot rein them in or bring them into cohesion with each other. Here, The Chariot urges us to find a new approach to whatever problem or circumstance we are facing, to avoid a yet greater loss of control. It can also mean a general unwillingness to steer towards a solution; sometimes it can feel easier to remain static, rather than taking the difficult steps of changing our circumstances.
The Chariot reminds us that control of any situation is there for the taking if we choose to pick up the reins, believe in our own abilities, and direct our lives with the confidence of our own inner convictions. It is within all of us to be the masters of our own destiny.