by Arthur Edward Waite, originally published 1910.
Description and Meanings¶
In this symbol I have again followed the reconstruction of Éliphas Lévi, who has furnished several variants. It is legitimate—as I have intimated—to use Egyptian symbolism when this serves our purpose, provided that no theory of origin is implied therein. I have, however, presented Typhon in his serpent form. The symbolism is, of course, not exclusively Egyptian, as the four Living Creatures of Ezekiel occupy the angles of the card, and the wheel itself follows other indications of Lévi in respect of Ezekiel’s vision, as illustrative of the particular Tarot Key. With the French occultist, and in the design itself, the symbolic picture stands for the perpetual motion of a fluidic universe and for the flux of human life. The Sphinx is the equilibrium therein. The transliteration of Taro as Rota is inscribed on the wheel, counterchanged with the letters of the Divine Name—to shew that Providence is imphed through all. But this is the Divine intention within, and the similar intention without is exemplified by the four Living Creatures. Sometimes the sphinx is represented couchant on a pedestal above, which defrauds the symbolism by stultifying the essential idea of stability amidst movement.
Behind the general notion expressed in the symbol there lies the denial of chance and the fatality which is implied therein. It may be added that, from the days of Lévi onward, the occult explanations of this card are—even for occultism itself—of a singularly fatuous kind. It has been said to mean principle, fecundity, virile honour, ruling authority, etc. The findings of common fortune-telling are better than this on their own plane.
by S. L. MacGregor Mathers, originally published 1888.
Good Fortune, Success, Unexpected Luck.
Ill-Fortune, Failure, Unexpected Ill-Luck.
by A. E. Thierens, originally published 1930.
“It symbolises Fortune, good or bad.” (M.) So this means happenings, facts. It is indeed in the Tenth house, that the relation between the Self and the Not-self crystallises into fact, happening, deed. Says P., identifying this card with the significance of the Hebrew letter Yod, that it indicates “the finger of man; the forefinger extended as a sign of command.” This clearly has to do with the significance of the Tenth house as that of authority and authorities, who are qualified to give commandments. The commandment itself comes under the same resort. “This letter has therefore become the image of potential (?) manifestation, of spiritual duration and, lastly, of the eternity of time.” In fact, the Tenth house of the zodiacal cycle, ruled by Saturn, has much to do with Time and manifestation in time, but not only potential; real as well.
The image for this idea is very characteristic, perhaps the most striking of all. “The wheel of fortune suspended upon its axis. (Leaving no doubt about the idea of circular movement in time, which we find back in the horoscope.) To the right Anubis, the genius of good ascending; to the left Typhon, the genius of evil descending …” (P.) See the right hand as the East and the left hand as the West, and you have the illustration of the horoscope more accurately still. As we know the East is standing for the source of spiritual force and inspiration, the West for the end of it and dying out.
What the sphinx has to do with it seems doubtful, unless it means that all mysteries will be revealed in time. The symbols of the four fixed signs are holding the four quarters of the card. The four fixed principles are indeed generally accepted as the basis of the material or concrete world. Compare the visions of Ezechiel and St. John of Patmos.
The mid-heaven in the horoscope sees the eastern half of it rising and the western half on the other hand declining.
The divinatory meanings of this card are evident: it denotes the authorities to which the querent is subject, but also his own actions, deeds, manifestations and the position in the world which he occupies, his name and titles. It is the card of karma in the strict sense and that which is indicated by it in divination will come true or be realised actually. Therefrom it has been said to symbolise ‘fortune.’ As will be seen it must not be accepted as the ‘part of fortune’ in the horoscope, because this has a more specific meaning and only with regard to the moon.
It is the point where you get at the world or the world gets at you. It is ‘ripe karma’ above all, facts which are not to be overborne by words. The fruits of former thoughts.