Rota Fortunae: Ticket to Ride

In my unpublished book on tarot spreads, I made the following statement about the Wheel of Fortune:

It sits in the eleventh position of the sequence, mid-way between Key 0 (the Fool) and Key 21 (the World), bringing to closure the first half of the Fool’s journey of self-discovery and stimulating a fresh start with a decisive “turn of the wheel.”

It is the point of departure for the second leg of the Fools journey toward mastery (the number Ten reduces numerologically to One, resetting the trip meter), and represents an emphatic break with the contemplative summing-up of the Hermit. It offers a new chapter in the ongoing saga that is ripe to be written. As such, it merits the optimistic expansiveness of its Jupiter correspondence. In traditional astrology, Jupiter is the “Greater Benefic” and the source of much good fortune. This has been watered down in modern tarot interpretation, which sees the Wheel of Fortune as merely “some kind of significant change, but of indeterminate benefit to the querent.” I can understand wanting to hedge our bets in divination when a major turning point is at hand, but I have a hard time seeing Jupiter as the bearer of bad news (unless substantial weight loss is your goal, or exaggeration is considered a cardinal sin). “Victim of circumstance” is usually not within its range of expression, although its Piscean vulnerabilities may be exposed by the presence of  cards that constrain its sanguine Sagittarian buoyancy.

Thus, when the Wheel of Fortune turns up in a reading, I always shade it to the positive side of the ledger unless it is severely debilitated. The idea of change “for good or ill” is still present, as with any reciprocal rotation, but the sharpness of the experience could be blunted during a painful  downturn (as shown by the accompanying cards) or the road ahead smoothed for any rising expectation. Jupiter is one of the “good guys;” there is nothing half-hearted about it. “All-in” is a valid keynote for its ardent manner, although its action is more dignified and less ebullient than the “full-on” enthusiasm of Mars.

As Aleister Crowley said in a different context (but his subject – the Fool – is still present and accounted-for here): “All such impulses are right if rightly received; and the good or ill interpretation of the card depends entirely on the right attitude of the Querent.”  Jupiter offers opportunity that is not to be lightly dismissed. Letting the stimulus of the Wheel of Fortune slide by untapped due to an excess of caution is to waste its potential. The advice for the querent is to be ready to “catch the wave.”

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