In the traditional Rider-Waite deck, Major Arcana number 10 is the Wheel of Fortune. In my Witches Tarot deck, it is the Wiccan themed, The Wheel of the Year. Both translate to roughly the same thing, the ups and downs of life.
The Wheel of the Year is a central theme in Wiccan and Pagan beliefs. Seeing the year as a wheel, not something that begins and ends. The year doesn’t come to a close, it spins into a new cycle. I’m not going to go into great detail here, but this is based on the recurring life cycles of the God and Goddess. The Pagan God is born, or reborn, at Yule. He grows stronger throughout the following months, from a baby to a young man, at the feet of the Goddess, his Mother. The God is both son and lover. Don’t think of this in human terms, remember the God and Goddess are both forces of nature, Sun and Moon, Earth and Sky etc.
At Beltane, God and Goddess come together as lovers. He impregnates the Goddess with the baby God (effectively himself), and begins to ready himself to return to the Underworld. By Samhain, the God has died, sacrificed with the harvest. The Goddess becomes the wise old crone. Then, again, at Yule, the God is reborn as a baby and the Goddess too, reincarnates herself as a child. There are many stories and variations of this, but that is enough to get a grip on the understanding of this card. ( I am working on a set of posts directly about this, hopefully to be up soon).
We can see the cycles of youth, ageing, death and rebirth in this card. Everything in nature is recycled, the spiral dance of eternity. The waxing and waning of the Moon. The longer, yearly cycles of the Sun. The seasons. Even the cycles of plants and trees. Winter equates to death, old age, endings. In Winter, we are surrounded by, seemingly, death. Trees lose their leaves. The Sun loses its power, reaching its furthermost point from the earth. The ground is dead,infertile, bearing nothing. Yet, come Spring, all is renewed. Trees sprout buds, a new set of, soon to be, leaves. The Sun regains some warmth. We plant seeds and watch them burst forth from the ground, the womb of The Goddess. All is renewed, begins anew, life goes on.
The cycles of nature can be equated to our daily lives as well. Life is great, running along seamlessly. Good job, nice home, plenty of money, lots of friends. Then something goes wrong and it all crumbles. Lose your job and there is a knock on effect. Losing your job is a good example, that can be devastating. Money isn’t everything, far from it, but it sure does help.
On the other hand, someone who has been down on their luck, might suddenly find they are on an upswing. Things start going right for a change. They score a good job, find somewhere to live, meet the right man or woman. All seemingly sparked by random events.
Life is a Wheel, constantly spinning. Life is good, but it can also be very hard. But nothing lasts forever. We all have good and bad runs. The best we can do is be prepared for the hard times, the down-right bad times. I have been without before. I know what it is like to not have two cents to rub together, to not have a roof over your head. So my solution to the ups and downs, the curveballs life occasionally throws us, is to save. I love to sock away money for a rainy day, and it is a habit that has served me well over the years.
Another is friends, even family. Friends come and go. Not many are there for the long haul. I think as you get older you have fewer friends. But the ones you do have are worth their weight in gold. These are the ones that will stick by you no matter what. The ones you will grow old with, parted only by death. But these few are exceedingly rare. A great way to find out who these chosen few are, experience real hardship. The rest will vanish, leaving only the true. But sometime, this is just the Wheel spinning again. You meet someone and your paths converge. For a while you walk side by side, the best of mates. Then, imperceptibly, your paths split apart, separate. This usually happens gradually. You still think fondly of each other, but slowly start to lose touch as your lives spin-off in their separate directions. Sadly, I have a few old friends like this. Life just seems to pull you apart and you both become busy with your respective lives. Occasionally I run into these mates of old, usually on the off-chance, and it is great to catch up. Usually a night well spent, drinking way too many beers. Vowing to keep in touch, you sadly part ways, but a lot of the time, it just isn’t to be, and you lose touch again. Well, unless you are lucky enough to run into each other another time. (That Wheel again).
We can also look at The Wheel of Fortune as karma. What you give out comes back to you threefold. Be a good person, the universe will return your kindness. Be ugly and wretched, expect to be miserable. I am a strong believer in karma. I even like to make little “karma investments”, doing random good deeds for my friends and strangers. If I see a chance where I can do some good, I jump at the chance. This seems to pay dividends, I am happily residing atop the Wheel at this time.
The wheel spins in many aspects of our lives. It is the ebb and flow of many things, luck, friendships, money. Life is never steady, nothing ever holds. This is also a reminder to cherish the good times, but also to cherish the moment. Usually the best memories we have, we were unaware of how profound that time was to be in the future, until we look back upon it. The good times of today are the cherished memories of tomorrow.
If you are presently stuck in a bad situation, or a run of bad luck, take heart. The Wheel of Fortune brings you promise that things will get better. To quote Tom Hanks in Castaway, ““So now I know what I have to do. I have to keep breathing. And tomorrow the sun will rise, and who knows what the tide will bring in.”