Whenever i met this card in my readings first what comes to mind is Change. It brings the smell of fresh breeze, freedom and change in the air. But my feeling of joy mingles with a slight sadness as The Wheel directly points on an inevitable turn that follows. Immediately i remind the proverb: “The only unchangeable thing in the world is Change”.
When I only started discovering Tarot the Wheel symbols seemed odd. I didn’t pay much attention to the wheel itself. It was just the wheel. In my life there were plenty small and big events which could be referred to the Wheel energy: unexpected prospective job offers, lucky opportunities to travel to beloved cultures, sudden visits of long-awaited friends, returns of old forgotten love… My best childhood friend I lost after kindergarten again appeared in my life when i came across him … in the circus – evident and one of the most striking symbols of the Wheel.
Sphinx on the top of the Wheel pushes to remind tragic story of Oedipus who trying to avoid destiny was taking his own decisions and in paradox way his own decisions were slowly taking him to the prophecy script. Trying to avoid killing his foster parents he left and at the crossroad met his real father without being aware of this fact. Having an argument Oedipus killed him and married his widow, thus his mother. So when we have the Wheel should we consider it Destiny or Accident? When we met a riddle which the Sphinx offered us should we try hard to solve them? Or it’s better to lose and avoid winning fortune not to pay too high for the prize later?
The Wheel makes me think about eternal conflict or better to say, difference between West and East, between Orient and Asia and European and American people in the terms of Destiny or will. What defines our life: our decisions, actions or powerful Doom? After communicating with Muslims i noticed that despite their fatal approach to life, their Maktub, Kismet philosophy (“destiny is written”) they are ruled more by their own wishes, impulses, ideals and of course act according them. But perhaps trust in Destiny makes them free from destructive feeling of guilt which doesn’t let Westerners live in peace. “I could have done, i should have done” is what spoils confidence and paralise further actions. On the other hand a use to plan and predict everything strictly doesn’t leave space for chance or surprise. Perhaps The Wheel teaches to find the balance between blind trust in Luck, Fortune and Destiny and own speed, wit and ability to set your Destiny in motion?
The Wheel ideas and lessons can be found in literature and cinema. Have you noticed in Thackeray’s Vanity Fair regular author’s mentions about the twists and turns of life? His remarks and the plot itself are just an exact description of tenth Arcana! Despite of all efforts, impulses and dreams everybody seems to fulfil his own destiny, somehow isolated and lonely, still inseparably connected and dependent on others. King Lion’s idea of “Great Circle of Life” reflects The Wheel of Fortune essence: each small step serves something great and supporting this eternal rotation of life is essential for the order and keeps world from falling into the chaos. A sheep-wheel of the pirate boats comes to mind: being gentlemen of Fortune a lot depend how skilful you rule your ship and crew.
Ancient feasts and pagan traditions cannot be ignored when thinking about The Wheel. Eight feasts of the Wheel of the Year are the thresholds and points of transformation during which a growth should happen. Life can be senseless, narrow and boring or may become majestic when small everyday life is submitted to something great, when each day is just a part of bigger path. Buddhist Dharma Wheel can be also a good image for meditate upon the flow of life.
So The Wheel’s promise of good luck becomes more a call for active movement. It is a call to create a Change instead of repeating old lessons and going through old mistakes. Obtain psychic wholeness, understand and submit to the rhythms of life yet remaining composed, have the strong axis of values; that can become the ring-buoy and safe from being crushed under bad Fortune. I think Kipling’s If can a perfect illustration for this card: “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same…” and “lose and start again at your beginnings and never breath a word about your loss”.
Slowly the unpredictable capricious Fortune turns into a symbol of a strict and harmonious law. Sphinx’s sword seems to be one of Justice and Ace of Swords and each turn of Destiny twists should place the Order above disorder, Truth above distortion, clarity above illusions.