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Tarot card of the Week – by Tony Olliver

By:Tony Olliver
Date: Wed,18 Jan 2017
Submitter:Tony Olliver

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Tarot card of the Week – by Tony Olliver

The Chariot, by Antoine Court de Gébelin. The following depiction plates from Antoine Court de Gébelin: Le Monde primitif analysé et comparé avec le monde moderne. ("The Primeval World, Analyzed and Compared to the Modern World"), Bd. VIII. Paris 1781. Tarot trump card design from the Court de Gébelin essay Du Jeu des Tarots.

Before you read on, what do you feel is the bigger message of this card? Which ancient civilisation do you see characterised in the image?


Hello everyone. I’m Tony Olliver, Endorsed Professional Tarot Reader & Mentor, Tarot Association of the British Isles &

I’m writing a series of short articles which will focus on my understanding of each Tarot card within the Major and Minor Arcana of diverse Tarot decks that have been in print during the last 500 Years or so. I will then compare the imagery of the Universal Waite deck from the 1990’s to the pre-modern Tarot deck’ cards which I have researched. In particular, I will be focusing on the late middle ages and post-classical era, which relates to Tarot imagery and comparative symbolic associations.

Each Tarot card can produce a vast amount of detail that centres around symbolism, astrology, numerology. Kabballah, psychology and esoteric mysticism. Each card has its own unique charm.

It would be interesting to see that as Tarot Readers we are able to attain the same meaning or as like chalk and cheese, a different meaning from the respective cards, as we start matching the modern / pre-modern cards.
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This work has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighbouring rights. (Wikimedia Commons). This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 100 years or less.
Universal Waite connection – Arcanum 7, Zodiac affinity to cancer. ( not displayed see Google )

Gébelin reconstructed ‘Tarot history’ through his writings and the essay by the Comte de Mellet included in Court de Gebelin's Monde primitif is linked to a mystical connection of the Tarot's 21 trumps and the fool with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. We are therefore looking at a representation of the Arcanum, which dates back to 1781 and can be further linked to ancient Egypt. Gébelin perceived, from his introduction to the Tarot, that there were links to the secrets of the Egyptians.

The Universal Waite’s portrayal of The Chariot does without a doubt show these fine depictions of ancient Egypt in the form of two sphinxes that are symbolically accompanying the Chariot. In the same manor, The Conqueror is allegorically controlling the chariot, though this is purely non-figurative as it is not illustrated directly within the image. Note also the medieval buildings in the backdrop of the Universal Waite’s depiction. Gébelin’s depiction (as above) is uncannily similar to the Universal counterpart in so many ways but note that there are two horses linked to the chariot and not two sphinxes as is seen in the modern Tarot deck.

The observer senses that The Universal Waite’s card is more in line with the representation of ancient Egypt than Gébelin’s depiction of 250 years ago, even though Gébelin perceived, from his introduction to the Tarot, that there were links to the secrets of the Egyptians. I say this primarily because of two sphinxes that are seen in the modern deck.

Gébelin’s depiction has little in the way of abstract colour overtone but I presume this is due to the fact that the images were purely reconstructions of his understanding of Tarot. The major allegory has been captured though and it is very conspicuous. You can see the comparative dualism contained within his sketches. For example, if you cut the image in half, you have almost two identical halves less one or two symbols. This effect is less in plain sight in the Universal Waite’s depiction of The Chariot.

The point I make here is that the card’s key theme is about balance and symmetry in our lives, despite the central message which speaks of power, control, success and adventure which is often perceived within the card. Without balance of mind, body, spirit, we can struggle to find our ‘feet’ and the after-effect of this can lead to fragmentation, lack of control, recklessness and destruction, etc. For that reason, the former and latter key outcomes are directed as options that we will have to make about our futures. That could be career, relationships and domestic issues amongst many.
If a client selects this card during a reading with me, I link into the highly-motivated energy of the card that potentially represents good or poor outcomes. The card sometimes appears almost heartless and direct with no possibility of a reverse gear. However, the hidden get-up-and-go message can tell us another story for the following reason:

It really is a win or lose scenario because without balance and diligence, we could lose everything that we stand to gain but with mindful consideration, we can win so much and salvage a potentially lost cause.

Despite the gap of 250 Years, I tend to bring together the same message from both the modern deck and Gébelin’s sketches.

Tony Olliver
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