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; in the system of correspondences that I use, 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 and expansion, and from there, with generosity and benevolence (in astrology, the planet is referred to as the 'greater benefic'). 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.
Wheel of Fortune (trimmed):
© Sharman-Burke/Caselli Tarot
Jupiter was also known as Jove, giving rise to our word 'jovial'. Jupiter has also come to be associated with good humour, despite also being the god of thunder! All this good-hearted benevolence has become almost synonymous with Jupiter being linked to good fortune. This is accompanied by a sense of optimism, and faith in something ‘greater’.
Of course, when heat is removed from a gas, it contracts – Jupiter the planet can’t expand indefinitely or it would burst! This cycle of expansion and contraction of Jupiter is reflected in The Wheel. Circumstances change; the wheel is constantly turning – things expand and contract, our fortunes rise and fall.
We often see Fortuna, the goddess of chance, in this card. Blindfolded, she turns the wheel of life, unable to see the consequences of each turn. Life is unpredictable, and it often seems we have no control over what fortune awaits us. We can choose what action to take as we’re confronted with new situations, though, so it may not be 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 – benefic Jupiter at work – when they do happen?
The Wheel (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot
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.
Wheel of Life (trimmed):
© Margarete Petersen Tarot
Margarete Petersen’s Wheel of Life is a whirl of colour, spinning so quickly it’s hard to make out what might be caught up in it. A face appears to be behind it, at the top – it’s the only thing that doesn’t seem to be moving. A smaller circle of yellow-gold light sits in the centre; the source of the larger wheel, perhaps? The Sun? The larger circle spirals outwards, expanding – not unlike Jupiter’s expansion. In the accompanying book to the deck, Margarete Peterson’s words reflect the “these things shall pass” quality of other versions of the card. Having faith and trusting in the process, gaining wisdom (all linked to Jupiter, astrologically) as we do.
|Fortune (trimmed):© Thoth Tarot|
And then there’s the Thoth. All that purple shrieks ‘Jupiter’ at me, purple being associated with royalty, among other things! The wheel has ten spokes, reflecting the number of the card in the Arcana. Three creatures are placed around the edge of the wheel. Sphinx, ape, and crocodile represent three Egyptian gods, and through them wisdom (Jupiter), ability to think clearly, flexibility, creativity – mutable qualities all linked to Sagittarius. All around are whirlwinds and lightning bolts (Jupiter being the traditional god of thunder and lightning, although Uranus took over rulership of lightning: electrical storms) – sudden, unexpected changes in fortune. (Although not astrological, the Hebrew letter Kaph, “palm”, also symbolizes the need to let the wheel turn freely, not being in control over what happens.)
In the Druid Craft we see a woman drawing a circle in the sand on a beach at the entrance to a cave, the sea in the background. Different image, but the same message - the circle represents the never-ending cycles of life and death, birth and re-birth, while the sea, with its natural ebb and flow represents the turning of the wheel in respect to our fortunes. The tide will come in and wash away the circle in the sand but it can be redrawn on the tide’s ebb. Trusting in the process, gaining wisdom throughout.
Wheel of Fortune (trimmed):
© Shadowscapes Tarot
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.
Whatever the imagery in the card in front of us, we see a circle, a representation of the never-ending cycles of life and death, death and re-birth – and of our fortunes. There’s no discernible beginning or end. We have to stand back and see the bigger picture, taking the Jupiterian view. We know that what goes up must come down – it’s all part of the cycle – but we have faith that the Wheel doesn’t stop there, but keeps on turning.
Wheel always turning
Happiness, sorrow, life, death
Trust in the process.
If you’ve enjoyed this post, you might be interested in my e-book, Astrology in Tarot, now available from Amazon.
Beginner’s Guide to the Tarot created by Juliet Sharman-Burke, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, published by Connections
DruidCraft Tarot created by Philip Carr-Gomm and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections
Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA/Deep Books, 2004.
Shadowscapes Tarot created by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore, published by Llewellyn
Thoth Tarot created by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections