7. The Chariot: Monkey Mind

I saw this great video featuring Mingyur Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhism teacher. He talks about the idea of monkey mind. In Chinese and Japanese, monkey mind (心猿) means restless, indecisive, uncontrollable, and as a concept it’s this idea that your mind jumps around from one idea to another, chattering and making it hard to focus.

Monkeys in a plum tree, Mori Sosen, 1808

Mingyur Rinpoche says that the way to tame your monkey mind is to give it a job. If you want to meditate, tell your monkey mind to focus on your breathing. You can’t get rid of the monkey, but you can ask it to help you.

In the last card, The Lovers, we saw The Fool make their first independent decisions. Now it is time to act on those decisions and move forward. This card is about motivation, determination, and focus. Let’s look at the symbolism of The Chariot:

Middle: Rider-Waite-Smith, Top left: Sasuraibito, Top right: Star Spinner, Bottom left: This Might Hurt, bottom right: Modern Witch

In some of these depictions we see two sphinxes, one black, and one white. They represent the duality of decision-making. Maybe your mind is being pulled in two separate directions, wanting to follow one path, but also feeling drawn to another. The Chariot is about being able to control and balance those opposing thoughts. But the sphinxes aren’t chained up, so it’s not about forcing them. Let them see where they lead you, but remain in charge.

There is a square on the charioteer’s clothes. The number 4 represents stability and structure, which reminds us of The Emperor, the 4th card. But the starry crown they wear reminds us of The Empress. Perhaps The Chariot is combining those energies of nurturing, compassionate freedom, with logical leadership and structure. They’ve taken those lessons taught to them by more experienced people, and they’re ready to use them in the real world.

You can see from the resolute look on the Chariot driver’s face that they always want to be moving forward. They’re independent and confident. There is no one else in the image, so no one to impress, or to get approval from. When you pull The Chariot, remember that you are in charge of your life, so there’s no sense in comparing with others. Above all, always remember you have the power to rein in all those little thoughts that might tell you that you’re not good enough.

In this article, a relatable conversation you may have had in your own mind plays out in a way that allows the person involved to approach problems with confidence, and ensure that their monkey mind doesn’t run out of control.

Sphinxes are known for their riddles so here are two for you to figure out. I’ll reveal the answers in my next post, which will be about the 8th card of the Major Arcana, Strength.

I walk on four feet in the morning, two feet in the afternoon, and three feet in the evening, what am I?

I have a mouth but do not speak, I have a bed but do not sleep, I run everywhere but go nowhere, what am I?


Published by Iona Grant

I am a writer who focuses on secular tarot, mindfulness and mental health. I read the cards for introspection, not fortune-telling. Tarot cards embody clear emotions and themes, and allow you to view a situation from new perspectives. I love that tarot exercises your creativity and imagination, and helps to prevent overthinking. I also do social media marketing for charities, and I am developing my skills in copywriting and content creation.

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