As this year of great change and consequence winds down, the very card that has been our guide all year comes calling. Just as it is our card of the year 2017, our card of the week is The Wheel of Fortune.
Having previously visited only four times since 2003, its appearance this week promises to be momentous.
The Wheel of Fortune is at the half-way point of the Major Arcana journey, which concludes with the final realization of The World card. One of the most widely recognized of the Majors, it features a number of esoteric symbols and layers of subtlety.
Which, if you think about it, it probably should.
For instance, in the Rider-Waite-Smith version, the central image is three nested circles (wheels within wheels, you might say).
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).”
Symbols and More Symbols
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 writes 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 that appeared in the Jewish prophet’s vision).
The four figures in the R-W-S Tarot Wheel 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.
The human figure on the right hand side of the wheels, 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, balance, and Mystery.
The artwork of Pamela Colman Smith in the R-W-S version of the 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 (according to Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur), 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.
Preparing for Yet More Profound Change
On Sunday, we will be greeting the last New Moon of 2017, in the sign of fiery Sagittarius.
The ever-insightful Annie Heese of Cafe Astrology tells us:
The New Moon in Sagittarius presents an opportune time to commit to personal goals that express the positive energies of the sign of the Archer:
- increase understanding and awareness;
- muster up the courage to expand your horizons and branch out into new ways of thinking;
- gain more confidence and optimism by focusing on the “big picture”;
- transcend the details of mundane existence;
- work on positive thinking as a way of life;
- take an exam, apply for or begin a new higher learning course, travel;
- nurture faith, hope, and vision without overdoing one’s expectations.
We can too easily get lost in the details of mundane existence. With this potent Sagittarius energy, we can find ways to transcend these details of day-to-day life and nurture our faith, hope, and vision.
What a lovely companion the Wheel of Fortune is, as we roll the dice for the days ahead. What is your true desire? This is the time to focus your will, consider where this year of change has taken you, and set your intentions for the one ahead.
In addition, in this relatively quiet time (astrologically), we would do well to prepare ourselves for the huge changes that lie ahead.
Frequent visitor and friend, astrologer Lorna Bevan recently described the powerful waves of transformation awaiting us in the coming year:
The years from 2018-2023 will be steep stair steps through the connected universe into the Age of Aquarius, when Pluto enters the sign of the Futurist.
These will also be some of the most exciting, interesting and creative times of our lives. Even by recent standards, 2018 will be a year of radical change as no fewer than 4 slow moving transpersonal planets, 3 deep space points, plus the Nodes of Fate enter new signs.
The hot spot world axis Aries Point — where the personal meets the political — is activated over and over by Saturn and Chiron.
There are 5 eclipses instead of the usual 4.
The Yin Earth element replaces Yang Fire.
And all this is not happening in a void but in the churning backwash of the revolutionary Uranus-Eris conjunction, increasing the impact of the digital revolution on consciousness.
New sine wave patterns form, changing the zeitgeist, seeding the watershed Saturn /Pluto conjunction of 2020 — there is no going back, as reality bites. This is the clash of the metaphysical/physical with the tangible/intangible — the big synthesis of practical application of spirituality.
There’s a lot on the line, along with huge potential for progress.
So it seems especially appropriate that the Wheel of Fortune is our companion as this year ebbs to its end, and radical change lies before us.
The Great Turning
In our personal lives, finding the still point at the hub of the turning will be important if we are to cope with the enormous changes ahead.
Happily, this very week — in perfect harmony with the slowing down imperative of Mercury’s retrograde — the annual Halcyon Days begin. This is a very ancient observance of a time-out-of-time, a stillness around the stilling of the Sun, which is the Solstice.
As a Major Arcana card, the Wheel of Fortune affects matters that are not trivial for us. There may be a big shift in our lives pending, touching deep into our very character. And much about it may feel out of our hands.
Cultivating a view of the big picture, and becoming aware of the larger patterns of change in our lives will help us turn these challenges 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 you have never seen or even dreamed of before.
What major turning point is now upon you?
Let us move with the flow of change, yet hold to the still, eternal present point at the center of the Wheel.
This is the great dance of life — learning when to hold on, when to let go; when to push, when to surrender.
Humanity stands now on the threshold of the Great Turning. It is the end of an Age, and we are in labor to bring forth the birth a new aeon for our species.
Will we make it? It is still up in the air, and, as this year’s Nobel Peace Prize recipients have noted, we are but one temper tantrum away from nuclear annihilation.
So what can we do? How might we help? How can we at least not hinder?
Consider this your invitation to lend your hand.
Be open and receptive, letting go of the past. Be attuned to the divine Now. In the dark of the Moon, plant your sacred seeds and sing into being your highest hopes for what may yet be.
Let us make a pact, you and I, that by our will and by our wisdom, together, we shall progress forward, and not one step back.