There’s another card from the Major Arcana to look at while we’re in Sagittarius, and that’s the card that’s associated with the ruler of this sign. Jupiter rules Sagittarius, and in the system of correspondences that I follow, Jupiter is linked to the Wheel of Fortune.
Remember that Jupiter, the largest of the planets in our solar system, is composed almost entirely of gas. When gas is heated, it expands... so Jupiter has come to represent growth, expansion, and benevolence (in astrology, the planet is referred to as the 'greater benefic') - as well as good humour and good fortune. There’s the link to the Wheel - changing fortunes. Circumstances change; the wheel is constantly turning – things expand and contract, our fortunes rise and fall.
In the Sharman-Caselli deck we see Fortuna, the goddess of chance, turning the wheel of life. She’s blindfolded, unable to see the consequences of each turn – life is unpredictable, and it seems we have no control over what fortune awaits us. Well, we can choose what action to take as we’re confronted with new situations, so it’s not completely out of our hands. Events may appear to be random – but are they? And can we recognize the silver lining, the blessings in disguise – the Jupiterian ‘benefic’ - when they do happen?
In the Wildwood, we see the three herons representing the Three Fates, waiting for the robe to be completed – but we can affect what’s being woven into the fabric of life. The robe carries symbols of life and death – the cycle of life that keeps on going, reminding us that nothing stands still – or if it does, it stagnates. The warp of potential, the weft of possibility – that’s what we see in that unfinished garment.
Jupiter is the Roman counterpart to Zeus in the Greek pantheon - the ruler of the gods, as well as being the god of thunder, often shown with a lightning bolt as his symbol. Those bolts are seen in the Thoth’s Wheel, symbolizing the ‘bolt from the blue’, the unexpected, the break-through. We feel the warmth of the Sun shining through the centre, and feel the joy and benevolence that comes with good fortune and unexpected gifts.
The Shadowscapes' Wheel of Fortune depicts a sort of Celtic-knot pattern - something with no discernible beginning or end. Again, it's about standing back and seeing the bigger picture - about not putting boundaries on everything but allowing things to expand and develop at their own pace. Let the wheel keep turning.
Of course, what comes up must go down – but the Wheel doesn’t indicate which way it’s turning; we rely on other cards in a reading to determine that. When heat is removed from a gas, it contracts – Jupiter the planet can’t expand indefinitely! Fortunes change – what we do know from this card (and Jupiter’s association with it) is that something new is coming, be it a downturn or an upwards one.
Completely unrelated to Jupiter and astrology, but have you ever thought about those letters on this card in more ‘traditional’ (i.e. Rider-Waite-based) decks? T-A-R-O...tarot. But R-O-T-A is Latin for ‘wheel’, while O-R-A-T is Latin for ‘speaks’. T-O-R-A is the Hebrew law, seen in many versions of the High Priestess. And A-T-O-R is the Egyptian goddess of love. To quote Rachel Pollack, ‘the wheel of tarot speaks the law of love’! (Rachel Pollack. Seeker: The Tarot Unveiled. Llewellyn Publications, 2005.)
Shadowscapes Tarot created by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore, published by Llewellyn
Sharman-Caselli Tarot created by Juliet Sharman-Burke, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, published by Connections
Thoth Tarot created by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris, published by US Games Systems, Inc.
Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections