The Chariot is widely understood to be ruled by Cancer. Now, that is a tricky correspondence for many tarot practitioners. The association between the kind, nurturing sign of Cancer and the energized figure of The Chariot is not immediately apprehended. But with a little digging, the connections are there. Not only that, this study helps us discover the great power that lies with Cancer.
Cancer, the Crab, is a figure from Greek mythology. As Zeus’ son Heracles battled the Hydra, the giant Crag latched on to Heracles’ foot, having been sent by Hera to destroy him. Hera, wife of Zeus, was the goddess of women, marriage, family, and childbirth. Her hatred for Heracles was due to him having been born to her husband Zeus out of wedlock. The Crab was not able to help Heracles be defeated by the Hydra and was crushed by Heracles. Hera, as a reward for the crustacean’s sacrifice, placed its image among the stars.
From this brief story we can already understand how the archetype of the Crab is not passive like popular astrology would have you believe. Otherwise, Hera would not have given it the arduous task of trying to defeat the mighty Heracles. The Crab did what it could, interfering with Heracles’ battle so that each time he would cut off one of Hydra’s head, two would grow back in its place. The Crab, in other words, took the initiative with courage and determination. That initiating power lies with Cancer because it is a cardinal sign, along with Libra, Aries, and Capricorn. These signs are all known for their drive and accomplishing ability. Cancer, in turn, carries that launching force in the intuitive, emotional, and relational realms. I have been friends with Cancer “moon children” who go to great heights to make sure the friend group is always united, that everyone feels comfortable, and that love prevails. Cancers are the builders of a connected, heartful world.
The Chariot card is movement and evolution. This arcanum deals with growth, progress, and success. But it speaks of a specific type of growth: it refers to the emotional maturity and intuitive knowing that leads us to step up in our journey of evolution. Through The Chariot, we are invited to surf the inner surges of transformation, the deep callings of the soul to evolve, and to initiate a new, upgraded phase of our journey of growth. In that sense, both The Chariot and Cancer cause us to take the initiative in our lives through connection with the intuitive heart, tugged by the power of this moontide and its moving waters.
Perhaps we have reached a plateau in our growth. Things feel a bit stagnant. There may be beliefs, behaviors, habits, relationships, endeavors, and situations that feel suffocating and limiting. Our evolution feels like it has stopped dead in its tracks. But the horses that draw The Chariot urge us on, symbolizing the inner forces of the soul that clamor for us to return to the flow. This leads us to yet another connection between this tarot card and Cancer: the concept of the crab shell. Crabs can only grow so much within their shells before their exoskeleton becomes a prison. Before they can continue living, they must mold. They must shed the old, constricting skin. Cancer, in its deep wisdom, moves with the power of the tides and knows when it is time to let go.