After having had time to introspect as The Hermit, it is time now for the Fool to face another potentially difficult challenge. The Wheel of Fortune. For me, this card is all about learning to let go.
There is a lot of esoteric symbolism in this card. Before we talk about what the card itself means I think it helps to know what the symbolism means. From the centre of the wheel are the alchemical symbols for sulphur, salt, mercury and water. These represent the classical four elements, the sulphur representing fire, the salt earth, and the mercury air.
In the outer ring of the wheel, we see the letters T A R O. Considering that a wheel represents going around and around we can see that this is probably the word TAROT repeatedly infinitely. The Hebrew letters spell YHWH, the unpronounceable name of God. It might help to know that the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot is extremely influenced by the Qabalah, which is why we often see Hebrew letters, angels, and other esoteric imagery in the cards.
On top of the wheel is a sphinx, along the side is an amphisbaena, which is a two headed snake, and on the bottom, Anubis. Sphinxes (or sphinges) can represent power, knowledge, and protection. The amphisbaena is Greek for ‘goes both ways’. Anubis is the God of the underworld.
In the corners of the card are an angel, an eagle, a bull, and a lion. These are the zodiac signs Aquarius, Scorpio, Taurus, and Leo. Again, these represent the four classical elements, as they are the fixed air, water, earth and fire signs.
If you imagine that being on top of the wheel means things are going well for you, and being on the bottom means that things are bad, you can start to see what all these characters are telling us. You might be all high and mighty at the top, but as soon as the Goddess Fortuna spins the wheel again, whoever was on bottom gets a chance in the limelight, and whoever was on top is squashed into the ground. As the four elements are balanced, so too is the fate of the characters on and around the wheel.
You cannot control the world around you. All you can control is the way you deal with what happens. It is important to remember that when times are bad, that is only temporary, and when times are good, cherish it, because it also doesn’t last forever.
I really like this quote from Bob Ross:
Gotta have opposites, light and dark, and dark and light in painting. It’s like in life. Gotta have a little sadness once in awhile so you know when the good times come. I’m waiting on the good times now.
If you had never experienced anything bad, how could you enjoy good things? You would have nothing to compare it to.
If you try to control how the wheel turns, you will only be disappointed. It’s time for The Fool to realise that there are things in this world that they cannot control. And if they still try to control them, they will be hurt. Are there things in your life that you try to control to give yourself a sense of security? Have you realised that when those things inevitably change, you feel cast out like you’re lost at sea?
Some people theorise that this card represents karma. The idea that what you give out to the world comes back, like cause and effect. Be kind to others when you’re on top, and maybe they can help you when you are struggling.
You can control how you react and respond to difficult situations. That is what gives you real strength in life. You can’t control other people. You can’t control how they see you. You can’t make them understand things the way you want them to.
If you pull The Wheel of Fortune, consider if there are changes you are being too resistant to. This is really hard. But you have to let go. When things are tough, trust that things will improve. A turning point is coming.
If you are true to yourself and your convictions, eventually others will see that without you forcing them to. I think we begin to see that in our next card, the halfway point. Next time, we’ll explore 11: Justice.