This is the thirteenth post in a series on the Tarot Rug Project ( also known as "Exploring the Tarot: 23 Artists Hook the Major Arcana"). To view the entire series, go HERE (that post will be kept up to date as the photos are published and the show travels).
THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE: Here is the "classic" Rider-Waite-Smith image below:
"No mortal power may stay her spinning wheel.
The nations rise and fall by her decree.
None may foresee where she will set her heel: she passes, and things pass. Man's mortal reason
cannot encompass her. She rules her sphere
as the other gods rule theirs. Season by season
her changes change her changes endlessly,
and those whose turn has come press on her so,
she must be swift by hard necessity."
Dante, The Inferno VII 82-90
There are so many symbols in The Wheel card I won't be able to cover them all in a short post. However, it's my belief that anyone who looks at this card has an immediate, instinctive sense of what it means. Don't you feel this as you look at it? You know what it means, even if you do not understand all the figures and letters portrayed. You have been "around the wheel" before in your own life. You get it, just from looking at the card.
This is the power of symbols, which speak directly and instantly to our subconscious minds.
However, if you would like a short and well-done synopsis of the symbols and their meanings, check this Wikipedia page and you'll be off to a good start without too much overwhelm. Believe me, there are thousands of pages written by various authors about this and each of the other tarot cards. Best to start simply.
One thing to note when considering the card is that, from the alchemical symbols just outside the wheel's center, to the letters that surround them--Hebrew and English--to the mysterious creatures around the edge...all are rotating. The only fixed images are the four creatures that stand in each corner of the card (a.k.a. the "Tetramorph"--another quick lookup on Wikipedia.
Oh, and there's one more fixed point in the card; we'll get to that soon.
But let's first have a look at Rae Harrell's interpretation of all this on her tarot rug.
Rae Harrell is very well known in the world of textile artists. For ten years or more she owned an art gallery in Vermont (recently closed, alas) and she has a phenomenal website HERE. Be sure to view the Gallery of Rae's rugs, paintings, and sculptures. I love all of it.
And check out the video she made on another rug show she hosted and curated--on a very different topic--HERE. Miss the 9-minute video at your own peril; it is just wild and showcases the work of many other textile artists besides herself. (Please remember to come back to this page afterwards, once your brain stops spinning.)
I recently discovered that Rae has the world's greatest laugh.
I particularly like what she has done with The Wheel of Fortune rug--the way the Wheel itself appears to be rolling right off the side. The motifs on her Wheel spin of their own accord. And in the center, barely visible in the picture but eye-catching in real life, the outlines of the star are extremely shiny. The multi-colored bird (a falcon?) and the pyramids complete the mystery and fun of this inspired piece, which is set off by a beaded border that serves to frame the picture as it reaches the black edges.
WHAT DOES THE CARD MEAN?
You already know this one, as I said above. A few additional relevant quotes:
"Let it be, my friend! Man grows to a certain point and then descends."
- Maori proverb
“Fortune, good night; smile once more. Turn thy wheel. ”
Shakespeare, King Lear
"Sometimes the wheel turns slowly, but it turns."
But here is one thing that most people do not consider when working with this card: There is one other place on the Wheel, besides the figures in the four corners, that does not turn. The center.
"Your true home is in the here and now," says Thich Nhat Hanh. If you can remember this (not so easy for us, eh?), you can allow the world to turn around you and gain some true perspective on the ups and downs of life.
There is often a sense of luck turning, or of something set in motion when this card turns up. Some process is underway; some change you may not have even seen yet. Stay in the center and observe carefully while you see what is shifting.
So when you get this card, ask yourself:
"Don't be so loyal to your mind; the mind is not loyal to You.”
― Bert McCoy
Remember that you can catch up on all the other rugs in the exhibit at the link at the very top of this post. If you are curious about what's behind the exhibit, there is a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section here (scroll down to the bottom of that post to get to the FAQ).
Thanks for reading. Your comments are always welcome.
Today's tarot resource: The Tarot School, here.
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), a long-time meditator, a certified meditation teacher and coach, and focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society