Symbology in Tarot—Major Arcana Part VI

Today we will be discussing the “Wheel of Fortune” and “Justice.”

XI – Wheel of Fortune

In this card there is a Giant Wheel with four Hebrew Letters YHVH that mean “the one that cannot be mentioned” referring to Yaveh (God) In the middle level we can see the symbols for the four basic chemical elements: Mercury, Sulphur, Water and Salt. On the left side of the outer circle there is a snake representing Typhon, the Egyptian God of Malfeasance, and on its right side stands Anubis, the God of the Departed. On top of the wheel the Sphynx, symbol of Wisdom and Strength stands guard. In the four corners we have four winged creatures that give the needed stability to the whole ensemble during the continuous movements of Life itself. The four corners are buttressed by the four fixed signs of the Zodiac. The angel represents Aquarius, the eagle is Scorpio, the lion is Leo, and the bull is Taurus.

Upright Wheel of Fortune – It represents the Cycles of positive and negative developments, the pleasant and painful emotions, and the good and bad outcomes. As Life is in continuous flux, with bright and dark sides, we must learn how to manage our expectations and emotions, considering that there are always cycles of opposing interests. However, change is never totally random as it might seem at first sight; we can study the changes and identify patterns that can predict outcomes.

Our dearest mentor Biddy Tarot has magisterially defined this card: “the wheel is always turning, and life is in a state of constant change. If you are going through a difficult time, remember that it will get better from here. Good luck and good  fortune will make their return in time…it is also known as the wheel of karma, and it reminds you that ‘what goes around comes around’ Be a kind and loving person to others and they’ll be kind and loving to you.”

The wheel reminds us that oftentimes we face situations in our lives that are partially or totally out of our control, for which we have to accept our inevitable helplessness. We may have to follow that too often used but still wise advice; Go with the flow.

Moreover the presence of the wheel in our lives may signal your arrival at a critical juncture in your life, even a crossroads that will take your path to divergent ends.

Reverse Wheel of Fortune – This represents the absence of movement, of change, your life is at a standstill now. It could mean that there are strong negative forces that seem to be beyond your control; usually that is the case, but you have to ask yourself if you could not have done something differently for a different outcome. You can do nothing and accept that situation or you can try to improve it little by little; even small improvements might be better than nothing, especially in couples.

Note. This image of Joseph Schumpeter was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

By Image available for free publishing from the Volkswirtschaftliches Institut, Universität Freiburg, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. Copyrighted free use. –

Philosophical significance – One of the most provocative and still questioned precepts of XX Economics thinking is Schumpeter’s Gale, designed by Joseph Schumpeter, an Austrian economist, based on his profound study of Das Kapital by Karl Marx. In his 1942 book Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, Schumpeter proposed that: “the gale of creative destruction is the process of industrial mutation that continuously revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.” Schumpeter studied Marx writings where he affirmed that Capitalism must keep destroying the old productive processes and invent new ones, in order to stay functioning in industrial societies. Marx and Engels predicted that the Capitalist agents , like apprentis de sorcier, would eventually lose control of their creation; that system of wealth accumulation in the hands of a few in detriment of the rest of the population would eventually be destroyed by its own contradictions. History proved that this tenet of Marxist theory was wrong  and, on the contrary, it keeps our societies so vibrantly beneficial for all of us.

XII – Justice

This card represents a System of Truth, Fairness and Law. The lady has the Scales in her left hand, balancing intuition with logic; in her right hand, she is holding a double-edged sword representing Impartiality. The little square in her crown means that there is clarity in her thoughts and decisions. Beneath her red cloak appears the tip of her white shoe, meaning that she is dispensing justice for human deeds.

Upright Justice – There will be a time when each and every one of us will be judged. So be very careful how you judge other people because it can backfire into you. If you have been wronged, be certain that there will be a just comeuppance. But if you wronged other people, expect a retribution, sooner or later. Moreover, try to learn the truth about other people before passing summary judgement on them, which is often wrong. Pay attention to a missed detail in your life that can have consequences if you keep ignoring it. The Buddhist concept of Karma is of paramount significance. In your loving relationships, treat your partner fairly and you will receive tenderness galore. If you try harder, you will find that partner that you always wanted for you.

Reversed Justice – It means that you are in a State of Denial, running away from the difficult problems you should be solving, or tying your best at least. You must act in order to enact meaningful change. It also means that you are unfairly blaming your partner for a misdeed, you are acting dishonestly in your work or career, or you engage in shady financial dealings that will eventually destroy your family life.

Note. This image of the Themis of Ramnous in Attica, sculpted by Chairestratos circa 300 BC, was taken from Wikipedia.

Philosophical significance – In Ancient Greece, the birthplace of all Western Modern Societies, the deme was the country district or village, as opposed to the polis, the big city, the city-state. It was there that the concept of democracy was born as all the men 18 years and older had to register in the local council for civic duty, including military service. It was also extended to mean “the commoners.” For the deme to work there had to be fair justice for all its members, without discrimination. In Greek Mythology the goddess Themis represented Justice; she was one of the twelve Titan children of Gaia and Uranus, and the second wife of Zeus. She was the physical representation of Justice, Divine Order, Fairness, and the Law of the Land. She was represented blindfolded with a scale in her hands. But she also represented the Social Order, without which no community could prosper. When Themis was ignored, then Nemesis, the winged deity holding a dagger, would set things right.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

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