Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Wheel of Fortune

The Wheel of Fortune is the tenth card in the Major Arcana.  Ten is the number of completion and new beginnings.   The Wheel of Fortune reminds us of cycles, and that all endings bring new beginnings, just as every beginning inevitably grows, changes, and sometimes becomes an ending.  It also reminds us that downs are a part of life, and every down must have an up.

It also is good to know that The Wheel of Fortune is the card halfway through the Major Arcana, and is the gateway from the materialistic, practical first half into the more spiritual, abstract latter half (Barbara Walker Tarot 10).

Robin Wood's Wheel of Fortune shows the rise and fall of the fortunes (and the joy) of a woman.  The colors whose tips touch oppose each other, with bright, sunshine yellow at the zenith and indigo at the nadir.  Night must follow day, just as day follows night, and if this is accepted, life becomes easier.  As the wheel turns clockwise, the warm yellow fades to the cooler colors of greens and blues as the wheel descends, and then the colors warm into fuchsias, reds and oranges. Life is made up of all shades of emotions, from euphoria to despair.
The silver ball going around symbolizes the arbitrariness of fate. Sometimes life doesn't rise and fall in an expected rhythm.
Julian De Burgh and Mary Guinan's Wheel of Fortune shows an image that, depending on the other cards in the reading, can be comforting or alienating. The blonde woman watching over the wheel may be a guardian angel, reminding the questioner that no matter what, help, comfort and love are always available.  On the other hand, she may be listless and apathetic, showing the randomness of fate.

The Celtic Deck's Wheel of Fortune also shows two men, one rising and one falling.  Looking closely at the man going up, one can see that he is climbing. This could mean that the questioner must strive and work to achieve his desired fate, and that it is in the questioner's power to create his destiny.

Keep in mind that I am only writing what I am seeing in this card on this particular day. When you look at the card, you may be focusing on something else.  Or, you may be focusing on the man on the upswing, and seeing something totally different.  That's wonderful!

On Barbara G. Walker's deck, you may see some familiar creatures in the four corners of the card--they are the masculine versions of the animals seen on the card for The World. Traditionally, these are the four elements--the Lion is Fire, the Angel is Air, the Bull is Earth, and the Eagle is Water. Of course, they can mean more than that--the Eagle can represent farsightedness and freedom, the Lion courage and nobility, the Angel protection and wisdom, and the Bull hard work and fertility. What do the male animals signify to you?

An interesting aspect of Barbara G. Walker's Wheel is that it could be seen as rotating counter-clockwise, as the figure on the left with the head of an ass is falling down, while the figure on the right with the head of a hawk is climbing up. While a clockwise movement is associated with the Sun, masculinity, and the bringing in of energy in Wiccan tradition, counterclockwise is the feminine and repelling.

Barbara G. Walker writes that the figure with the Hawk head is Horus, the ancient Egyptian god of the Sun, and the plummeting man with the Ass head is Set, who represents darkness and the sterile desert (Barbara Walker Tarot 10).  Using the cards and your own intuition, you can decide whether the questioner is Horus or Set in the situation, and whether it is the right time to make a move and achieve an end, or to wait and avoid disaster, or to expect delays or obstacles.

At the top is Justice, reminding us that our actions always have an effect, whether now or in the future. She keeps track of our karmic debts, and makes sure we are rewarded through the Ankh, representing love and protection, or punished through her sword.

The mention of karma leads me through association to the concept of samsara, which is the great cosmic wheel of life. In Hinduism, being in samsara means that the soul is still going through the process of reincarnation, and therefore has not reached the enlightenment necessary to enter Bhraman, or the Great Cosmic Spirit.  If The Wheel of Fortune comes up in a reading, it may mean that the questioner is reaching an epiphany, or that the questioner is not quite ready for an undertaking.

 Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and luck, is the goddess chosen for the Wheel of Fortune by Kris Waldherr for the Goddess Deck. She flies on Garuda, the King of Birds, with a lotus as her cushion, accompanied by her companion Vishnu the Sustainer.  When the card is upright, she symbolizes abundance and good fortune, but if she is flying upside down, it means that the wheel of Samsara is still turning, and things may be on a temporary downswing.

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