Keywords for The Wheel of Fortune
|DESTINY||CYCLES OF TIME|
The image on this card is one of the most unusual we have yet to see in the progression of the Major Arcana which we began with the Fool.
The scene is one which appears to take place up high in the heavens: we see the background of a blue sky, against which are set four puffy, white-gray clouds. On each of these, we see strange figures, each of them a winged creature, holding an open book in their hands, caught in the act of rapt attention on the text in front of them.
On the lower left is a bull, symbolizing the astrological sign of Taurus. The lower right shows a Lion, for the zodiac sign of Leo. Moving to the upper right, we see an eagle, representing the sign of Scorpio in its most elevated expression. And finally, on the top left we see a man perched on the last and final cloud, symbolizing the water-bearer of the sign of Aquarius.
These figures are also references to the four evangelists of Christian doctrine, who, according to Rachel Pollack, are sometimes called “the guardians of heaven.” As mentioned earlier, they also make clear reference to the four fixed signs of what began as Babylonian astrology. In this context, they can also be seen as referring to the four elements of ancient and medieval science, alchemy, and ritual magic (Earth, Fire, Water, Air).
In the center of the card we see an orange sphere, or rather, a series of four concentric circles, moving from the point of stillness in the very center out to the final expression at its outer edges. In the second ring, we see inscribed the alchemical symbols for Mercury, Sulphur, Salt, and Dissolution. In fact, these are also correlated with each of the four elements (Air/ Mercury, Fire/Sulphur, Earth/Salt, and Water/Dissolution).
In the last and final sphere, we see the letters TARO, which, if read from beginning to end in a complete cycle, spell the word “Tarot.” Interspersed between each of these letters are four of the Hebrew alphabet, the Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh of the Tetragrammaton, or divine and holy name of God.
Finally, clinging to the outer edges of this wheel, we see three other figures: a yellow snake moving counter-clockwise down the edge of the wheel; a red-orange man with the head of a jackal; and finally, a regal blue sphinx with her sword, crowning the very top of this orange sphere.
Interpretation of The Wheel of Fortune
One of the primary interpretations of the Wheel of Fortune in a tarot reading has to do with the element of change. This card most often refers to the advances, new developments, and transformations that we experience throughout the course of our lives.
More generally, the Wheel of Fortune can refer to any kind of meaningful change in our lives, not only lucky ones where we experience the favor of fortune. In some decks, this card shows the medieval symbolism of the Rota Fortuna, showing a king at the very top, who is usually on his way down to be crushed as the wheel of fortune turns against him.
On a deeper or more esoteric level, the Wheel of Fortune can indicate a moment of rising above the mundane events of our usual existence to catch a glimpse of the connections of synchronicity and meaning which tie everyone and everything together. This is an experience which some liken to that of enlightenment, or to that of “cosmic consciousness”.
To be able to view your life from above at this level implies an awareness of the links which connect your self, your life, and everything that has ever happened to you with these elements, with the expressions of all that lives and breathes and has its being in the vast universe.