Small wheel turn by the fire and rod,
Big wheel turn by the grace of God.
Every time that wheel turn round
Bound to cover just a little more ground.
~ Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia, Bill Kreutzmann, The Wheel
For only the second time ever in almost a decade of my Cards of the Week, we welcome The Wheel of Fortune.
One of the most widely recognized of the Majors, it features a number of esoteric symbols and quite a lot of mystery. Which, if you think about it, it probably should.
For instance, in the Rider-Waite-Smith version, the central image is three nested circles. Inside the space between the outside circle and the next smaller one, we see a combination of Hebrew and Roman letters. The Hebrew letters comprise the Tetragrammaton, the all-powerful name of the Divine.
As for the Roman letters, Tarot expert Rachel Pollack notes, “Starting at various points and going in either direction but staying in order, we can find various four-letter words in different languages.
“Here,” she continues, “is a sentence from MacGregor Mathers, co-founder of the Golden Dawn: ROTA TARO ORAT TORA ATOR. The Wheel (Latin rota) of the Tarot (taro) speaks (Latin orat) the law (Hebrew Tora, usually spelled torah), of Love (from Ator, or Hathor, an Egyptian Goddess akin to Aphrodite).”
That’s just for starters.
Inside the rim, going clockwise from 12 o’clock, we see the alchemical symbols for mercury, sulphur, water and salt. Author and scholar Robert Place remarks that we can interpret these as soul and spirit in combination with the body.
The four creatures in the corners are the same as those found in The World card, and Arthur Waite refers to them as the four living creatures of Ezekial’s Merkavah (the heavenly chariot).
Here, at the half-way point before the final realization of The World, they are reading books, which are usually understood to be references to the four Christian gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
The figures themselves represent the fixed signs of the zodiac, Aquarius (the human), Scorpio (the eagle), Leo (the lion), and Taurus (the bull). Thus, the Wheel has important things to say about cosmic time and cycles.
Robert tells us that the human figure with the head of a jackal is a hybrid of Anubis, the Egyptian God of the dead combined with the Greek messenger God, Hermes. He is a force of Good, patron of the ancient Egyptian priesthood, and the guide for souls in their journey to the underworld. On the opposite side of the wheel is the snake Typhon, the Greek name for Osiris’ murderous brother, Set.
At the top, mediating the two, is the Sphinx, bringing wisdom and balance.
This Wheel of Fortune holds within it thousands of years of thought and myth, including the prescient dream of King Arthur on the eve of his final battle, the concept of reincarnation, and medieval Christian morality tales instructing us of our peril, when we are too much of this world rather than attending to the next.
Its only previous appearance came to us in 2011, during the annual Sun opposition to Pluto, a New Moon/Solar eclipse, and a Cardinal Grand Cross. In other words, one of the most intense astrological periods in years.
So what might we expect on this encore visit for the first full week of 2013 and another New Moon?
Astrologer and frequent Owls Wings visitor Lorna Bevan tells us:
“The chart for the New Moon shows a stellium of planets – Venus /Pluto /Mercury /Sun – gathered in the sign of the Sea Goat, connecting to the Nodes of Fate.
“This is action oriented earthy energy needing to be channeled into tangible achievements.
“On [the New Moon] Friday January 11th, think about how you invest your time, energy, talents, money and love.
“Is it in the service of your most important priorities or squandered through inattention? Define your boundaries: what is negotiable or non-negotiable? Then stick to them, be your own authority, not relying on anyone to define your life nor wielding power over others. Natural authority comes from self love and is quiet and self contained.”
So we can conclude that this is a great time to set your intention, not just for the current cycle, but for the year. Be as pragmatic and methodical as you can, but bear in mind that when the Wheel is turning, our control of matters is limited. We’ll do much better to cooperate with destiny, than to try and conquer it.
Perhaps even more dramatically, this Saturday, Venus, planet of love and beauty, squares Pluto, the Great Transformer. Lorna warns that relationships and priorities may undergo profound change. The Wheel reminds us that the path of wisdom is to roll with changes.
As most of us get back to business this week, finding the still point at the hub of the turning will be important if we are to cope with the ups and downs of the days ahead. Cultivating a view of the big picture, and becoming aware of the larger patterns of change in our lives will help us succeed, turning obstacles into opportunities.
What is it time to let go of? What new thing is knocking on your door? Be open to surprises, miracles, unexpected twists of Fate, and options never seen before. What major turning point is now upon you?
When we move with the flow of change, yet hold to the stillness at the center of the Wheel, when we allow, as Robert beautifully describes it, “the world of time and impermanence [to be] permeated by the spirit and as the spirit at work,” good fortune must follow.
“The good God,” he writes, “is rising, and the evil God descending.”
I sincerely pray that it may be so.
Meanwhile, good luck!