The Chariot Tarot Card: The Lodge and Masons in Microcosm?

by | Jan 13, 2024 | Freemasonry, Qabalah, Tarot

Recently, when studying the symbolism and meaning of the Major Arcana of the Tarot, some Masonic meanings jumped out at me when looking at Key 7 (the Chariot).  As I looked at the imagery on the key – using the deck designed by Bro. Paul Foster Case for his Builders of the Adytum – I began to see it as a microcosm of the Lodge with a Brother standing in the midst of it. 

The body of the chariot itself is either a square or oblong, depending on how one views the foreshortening from the head-on perspective of the beholder. 

If a square, it – coupled with its grey, stone-like color – resembles the perfect ashlar, with the driver (a crowned, armored man) rising from it, almost signifying ourselves as Masons flowing out from the ashlar which we hope to make squarer day by day through our actions and work. 

If oblong, it resembles a lodge in miniature, for, as we are taught as Entered Apprentices, “the form of a Lodge is oblong,” a similarity also highlighted by Bro. Case in his The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages (p. 98).

A starry canopy is suspended over the charioteer, recalling the “clouded canopy, or star-decked heavens” that forms the covering of a Lodge.  This covering is supported by four pillars, which Case associates with order and measurement (two very Masonic concepts) as well as the four classical elements (p. 95).

Once again, based on the perspective of the viewer, these columns align with each other, with the wheels of the chariot itself, and with the two sphinxes which pull the chariot (but which are conspicuously not yoked to it).  Taken together, these are easily likened to the columns Jachin and Boaz found at the entrance to King Solomon’s Temple, and which play an important role in Masonic teachings.  Case himself cites the colors of these anthropomorphs – one white, one black – as echoing the pillars of Mercy and Severity found in the Qabbalah (p. 98), which likewise are associated with Jachin and Boaz.

The human figure of the charioteer then evokes the Mason in both his capacities as Master of his Lodge and as an individual Brother, particularly as a brand-new candidate. 

The commanding position of the charioteer coupled with the square around his neck – albeit not the classic working tool of the Master, but a square plate – bring to mind the Master presiding from his station in the East. 

Case likewise encapsulates this figure as being the summation of all the powers of preceding keys (much like how the Worshipful Master has already passed through the officers’ line before ascending the Oriental Chair)(p. 97). 

As the individual Brother, he stands in the center of the chariot much as a candidate would stand in the center of the Lodge before the altar to take his obligations.

The Hebrew letter associated with Key 7 is cheth (ח) which is Qabbalistically associated with the quality of speech (p. 93).  As Masons, we are well aware of the power of speech, from the usual interrogations we receive from the Marshal before our first entrance to the Lodge to the powerful words of the Master Mason’s charge.  Words, verbiage, and their oral delivery have always been a key part of our ritual, and back up Case’s statement that “the wise have always attached so much importance to right speech.” (p. 93).



This quick exploration of how Key 7 of the Tarot’s Major Arcana can be seen to contain Masonic symbolism and meaning is perhaps not totally unique, but these thoughts coupled with the studies of Bro. Case and others have certainly helped me grow in appreciation for the richness of the Tarot and its correlation with Masonry and other aspects of the Western esoteric tradition.  Given the universality of the Tarot and the universality of Masonry, other Keys may very well reveal similar Masonic meaning when examined closely.

Reference: Case, Paul Foster.  The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages.  New York: Tarcher-Penguin 2006.

Written by Nick Hoffmann

Nicholas Hoffmann is a 32° Freemason, Knight Templar, and a member of Chandler-Thunderbird Lodge No. 15 in Chandler AZ, and Black Mountain Lodge No. 845 in San Diego, CA, where he served as Master in 2022. He is also active in both York and Scottish Rites, and is an avid student of Western Esotericism via BOTA and Ordo Hermeticus Mysteriorum. Raised in Pittsburgh, PA and a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University (BA, Philosophy and European Studies; MA, Philosophy), Nick’s passions also include history, philosophy, theology, genealogy, and heraldry. Currently second-in-command of the Navy’s Phoenix recruiting district covering much of the southwest, he is a career Surface Warfare Officer with service in multiple ships and afloat staffs, and has written about naval matters in addition to Masonic and esoteric themes.

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