Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes
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An international group of tarotists (check out the master list) are all writing on the same topic and then linking to each other so that the reader can hop from one blog to the next, seeing all the permutations and facets that the topic inspired in different writers.
Spring Fling: Discard
Our wrangler Ania Marczyk suggested the very thought-provoking topic: which card we might like to fling out from the tarot deck during a spree of tarot spring cleaning.
I’m an advocate for keeping those cards that are generally considered difficult —cards like Death, the Devil, the Tower, the Ten of Swords, the Five of Pentacles, and others. To me, they lend an honest and truthful look at the situations we go through. Ultimately I find every card to have a role to play when it takes its position on my table. These cards cut directly to the heart of the matter. When they come up they can serve as a quick diagnostic to assess the problems that are holding the querent back. Once a problem is clearly seen, we can then focus the reading on developing a plan for addressing it.
Likewise, just because my day-to-day existence doesn’t incorporate such personages as Kings, Queens, Emperors and Popes does not mean that these designations are outdated—there are still leaders with these titles throughout the industrialized world. I can easily understand you if you say that your roommate acts as if she were the Queen of England, or in your new job you feel like the Emperor. Our vocabulary is rich enough to employ these metaphors—and depending on the types of clients you have, these cards might even be literal. Furthermore, due to the depth of meaning to these archetypes, there are always plenty of layers to uncover when these cards appear in a reading.
If I had to pick one card that I’m most interested in dumping from the deck, I think I would have to say the Wheel of Fortune. This card is about change, changing circumstances, changing luck, cycles. But it doesn’t put those changes in perspective. The Magician might say, Take control of your changing circumstances. Death might say, it’s over, let it come to a rest. The Moon might say, when you can’t see things clearly, follow your intuition. But the Wheel just turns, commentary on mute.
Philosophically, the card can be quite interesting. The qabalistic correspondence is kaph, the cupped hand or palm of the hand. This symbolism is seen quite clearly in the Morgan-Greer deck, showing a cupped hand turning the wheel. This can slant the meaning toward taking control of your circumstances, aligning yourself with the hand that turns the wheel, not the characters who ride.
The astrological correspondence according to the Golden Dawn is Jupiter. Associated with luck, this lends the meaning that things are on their way up; your luck is changing for the better. The significations of the planet are much more complex than this, but this is what seems most relevant to the card. Certainly the idea of Jupiter’s expansiveness, expanding yourself through travel or study, would be a great meaning for the card, but it doesn’t seem to fit the standard imagery.
I have on multiple occasions had this card come up to mean circles, particularly magical ritual circles, as shown in the Druidcraft deck.
The Rider-Waite-Smith illustration includes alchemical symbols that invoke the cycles of change in the alchemical process. But this generality eclipses specificity and the card flounders.
The meaning I most like goes back to the Visconti-Sforza, the earliest known tarot, created in the 15th century. It shows Rota Fortunae, Fortune’s Wheel, in which the four characters mark the circumference of the wheel. The one rising says, “I will reign”; the one at the top says, “I reign”; the one descending says “I have reigned” and the one at the bottom says, “I am without reign.” In many ways, this concept is more accurate today than it was at the time of the cards–when this archetype was introduced, the chance of a person rising above their station was probably more unlikely and much more difficult than it would be today. Then again, with the ongoing dialogue today about power and privilege, reversals of fortune still seem like a distant dream to many.
Despite this variety of ways to explore the card, when it comes up in a straight ahead predictive reading, ultimately all I have to say is: Things are changing. For better or worse, it doesn’t say. What’s changing, it doesn’t say. Sometimes it’s clear from the other cards that the querent has to accomplish a particular task in order to turn the wheel in their favor—in this case the Wheel in the final outcome is very much dependent on a particular series of steps—if executed correctly in a timely manner, the desired result will come to pass; if not, it won’t. But there can be a fatalistic quality to the card as well, undermining all attempts at understanding, and begging for a clarifier.
I guess my dialogue with the Wheel has been ongoing, because as I wrote this I realized that I have three different Wheel of Fortune spreads. The Revolutionary Wheel takes a metaphysical approach based on the RWS illustration. The Who Will Reign Spread takes its symbolism from the older Visconti Sforza deck. My Cogs in a Wheel spread is a vast spread that examines where you currently are in a cycle, its origins, and how to navigate it.
As I think through the complexities of this card and my ultimate failure to ever find anything relevant to say about it in a reading, I come to a dismal conclusion. I think that perhaps it is not the card that is at fault. Rather, it is my limited understanding, my inability to shift gears from one meaning to another according to the spread, that must be discarded.
Joy Vernon has been studying and teaching energetic and esoteric modalities for more than twenty years. She is the organizer of the Denver Tarot Geeks, Denver Tarot Meetup and Denver Traditional Reiki Meetup, and she served on the faculty of Avalon Center for Druidic Studies. She is one of the psychics at Isis Books and is a Certified Professional Tarot Reader and a member of the American Tarot Association and Tarosophy Tarot Association. Joy also teaches Traditional Japanese Reiki. For information on upcoming classes or to schedule an appointment, please visit JoyVernon.com.
© 2015 by Joy Vernon. All rights reserved.