6 The Chariot: Wolverine
“It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.” ~Winston Churchill
Today we continue our look at the Major Arcana of the Tarot through the lens of Marvel’s X-Men comic book characters! Thus far we have discussed Professor X as the Magician, Storm as the High Priestess, Jean Grey as the Empress, Cyclops as the Emperor, Nightcrawler as the Hierophant, and Rogue as the Lovers! This week we shine the spotlight on Wolverine as the Chariot!
As one of the most popular (and most marketed) X-Men, Wolverine has quite the pop culture profile. He’s known the world over through comics, cartoons, and movies and his trademark claws have spawned a lot of merchandise. It seems that his true mutant power is the ability to star in several comic book titles (and be on several teams) at once. His history is complicated with several stories contradicting previous accounts and contains more information than I wish to tackle in one post. However, if you have an itch to read a lovingly documented summary of Wolverine’s convoluted past, check out Uncanny X-Net’s Spotlight on Wolverine.
Thanks to his mutant healing factor which gives him great longevity, Wolverine has had many professions throughout the ages. We have seen him as secret agent, ninja, merchant marine, bar owner, fur trapper, bouncer, miner, soldier, adventure and headmaster. I am sure that is by no means a complete list. The aspect of Wolverine that I am focusing on today is his hero’s journey to be a spiritual warrior.
Wolverine’s main struggle throughout his life has been how to balance his bestial nature with his human side. Often losing himself in berserker rages, Wolverine has had to find an inner peace to balance his violent beast within. Through the force of his own personality, he has tried his best to control this part of himself with varying degrees of success. Having been manipulated and tortured against his will, Wolverine is in a constant state of healing and I am not referring simply to his physical wounds. Wolverine has had multiple memory implants over the course of his long life and was unable to trust even himself as to what happened in the past. Yet Wolverine consistently rose to the challenges presented to him and harnessed his will to whatever purpose was present.
It is no surprise that Wolverine found great solace in Japan where he studied to be a samurai. Ultimately he failed at this test, but continued to use meditation as a tool to quiet his bestial side. During his time in Japan and other countries, Wolverine learned all forms of martial arts and became fluent in many languages. He is proficient with many different forms of weaponry, has an advanced understanding of the human body including pressure points and is an expert pilot. His knowledge on all of these fronts expresses an extremely capable and hungry mind. All of these skills protect a man who is in constant emotional and physical pain, yet finds the will to perservere.
In the Tarot, the Chariot symbolizes self-control and self-discipline. It represents a person who is in control over their instincts, has great confidence in their abilities and amasses their force of will to accomplish their deeds. Oftentimes it is conflicting aspects of one’s personality that are brought under control as one moves towards a goal. When under the influence of the Chariot we may see ourselves as beyond human limitations as we are consumed with the concepts of victory, mastery and conquest.
Wolverine is a great fit for the energies of the Chariot as he presents one mask to the world and then another to his teammates (especially his close friends like Nightcrawler, Storm, Jubilee and Kitty Pryde). He has learned to hide his true emotional reactions as a defense mechanism. Wolverine is in constant struggle to maintain the contradictions of his animal rages and his samurai intentions. This is much like the black and white horses (or sphinxes) leading the Chariot who wish to go in opposite directions. However, by focusing all of his energies towards his purpose of self integration, Wolverine faces his fears and victoriously meets his challenges. In my award-winning X-Men Tarot series, Wolverine is represented by all of the Jacks (or Knights). The Knights represent the energies of movement and progress towards a goal, much like the Chariot. Wolverine is the archetype of change, movement and action as he is constantly changing his focus and profession. The Wolverine that was a freelance covert operative is a far cry from the headmaster of the Jean Grey School of today. One thing always remains constant, however, as Wolverine will always be the best at what he does.
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Artwork in this post by Paul Smith, Arthur Adams, John Byrne, Frank Miller, Dave Cockrum, John Cassaday, and John Cassaday, respectively.