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Join Date: 18 Apr 2003
Location: England
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Two of Wands 
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TotOP - VII - Mastery


“VII. MASTERY (The Chariot)... a Charioteer with Pentacled crown and Crab (sign of Cancer) breastplate, flourishes a Hazel Whip, standing a forth his Chariot, pulled by four horses of four colours. This is a card of motion, motion of Self. Our transitory life's travel is the moving chariot. The forces which act upon us, and to which we react, are the four elemental horses of Water, Air, Earth, and Fire.”

Den Elder, http://www.tarotpassages.com/oldpath2.htm

Before looking at the Old Path’s Mastery card, I want to briefly discuss and consider some of The Chariot card’s imagery throughout the known history of Tarot. Early Visconti Decks (1400’s +), such as Cary Yale and Sforza, and Marseilles Decks (1500’s +) depict an armoured Charioteer standing upon a stationary ornate Chariot with two horses in front. He is enthroned in the chariot rather than driving it. The earliest decks that I have seen tend to show the two horses as being the same colour (although some Marseilles show a red and a blue horse, but I’m not sure exactly when this first appeared). The Charioteer is never holding the reins. This is also true of the Deo Tauro (VII) card in the Sola Busca Deck (late 1400’s) and the Mars card of the Mantegna (mid 1400’s), although there is a Charioteer galloping across the sky, firmly holding the reigns, in the Luna and Sun cards of this deck.

In the 1789 Etteilla deck, the Chariot begins to move, and the Charioteer is now holding the reins, although the horses remain the same colour. Later versions of “Etteilla influenced” decks draw more and more upon Egyptian themes and the horses are replaced by a black and a white Sphinx.

The Rider Waite/Smith and The Crowley Thoth decks continue with the theme of different coloured Sphinxes during the 1900’s, although they return to the image of the stationary, enthroned Charioteer who is not holding the reins, and, in fact, the Thoth deck shows four sphinxes in the guises of a Bull, a Lion, an Eagle and a Man.

Nowadays different aspects of the card appear in different decks. Sometimes the Chariot is moving but the Charioteer’s hands remain free of the reigns, other times he/she is seen clearly brandishing them.

If you want to browse different 1900’s versions of the Chariot, click this link showing 49 different depictions, including the Old Path version:

http://www.goldenempire.com/chariots/36.html

Exploring the different interpretations of this card through the years, the Charioteer is often said to represent strong will power, symbolised by his ability to control the horses without reins. I have heard the two different colours of the horses/sphinxes, usually black and white, to mean night and day, conscious and unconscious, past and present, masculine and feminine.

But now we come to the Old Path card, a fast moving, four-horse- drawn vehicle, with the Charioteer grasping the reins firmly in the one hand, and each horse a different colour; so what does this card mean, what does it symbolise and how should we read it?
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