So, what else is there to do but roll with the Wheel? As we waited, and waited, and waited everything else in our lives had to wait or be neglected, put on hold and put off. I had readings to do and a class essay to write, none of which were done. Another child of mine wasn't able to carve a pumpkin as he'd hoped to, his Dad wasn't there to help him. A guitar lesson and a dance class went unattended. Dinner came from a drive through and vending machines. I hoped someone remembered to let the dogs out. But though it sometimes seems that life stops, it doesn't, not really. It keeps rolling on, taking you with it, even if you feel helpless to direct its course. It especially feels this way when you're taking a nosedive on the Wheel's downturn. Finally, the attending physician poked his head inside the curtain where we were holed up and smiled. The spinal fluid was clean. There was no meningitis. Suddenly it felt as if the Wheel had turned again and now all was upright again, only it was now 3:00 in the morning and we were exhausted.
The Wheel is fate, destiny, chance. Fortuna, the Goddess who determines the chance events of our lives rules The Wheel. In medieval art, the Wheel of Fortune characteristically has four shelves, or stages of life, with four human, semi-human, or animal figures, usually labeled in Latin on the left regnabo ("I shall reign"), on the top regno ("I reign") and is usually crowned, descending on the right regnavi ("I have reigned") and the lowly figure on the bottom is marked sum sine regno ("I have no kingdom"). Medieval representations of Fortune emphasize her duality and instability, such as with the two faces side by side like Janus; one face smiling the other frowning; half the face white the other black; she may be blindfolded but without scales, blind to justice. She was associated with the cornucopia, ship's rudder, the ball and the wheel.
The image of the Wheel of Fortune found throughout the Middle Ages and beyond was a direct legacy of Boethius's Consolation in which he expounds on the possible solutions to evil by way of distinguishing between Providence and Fate.
Boethius presented his argument through a model of spheres in orbit. He says that the closer spheres to the center tend not to move around and have simple orbits and are indicative of Providence. The spheres that are farther away from the center tend to have complex orbits and whirl around, which are of the realm of Fate. However if all the orbits are connected to the center they are confined by the simplicity of the center and no longer tend to stray away. Therefore Fate is confined within the simplicity of Providence, just as a circle is confined within its center.
“Providence is the divine reason itself which belongs to the most high ruler of all things and which governs all things; Fate, however belongs to all mutable things and is the disposition by which Providence joins all things in their own order. For Providence embraces all things equally, however diverse they are, however infinite. Fate, on the other hand, sets particular things in motion once they have been given their own forms, places, and times” (Boethius Book IV, Prose 6 p.91).
And that is the key to peace on the Wheel. The ups and downs of life are unavoidable, times when events seem to go well and times when events have you holding or gasping your breath, times when time seems to stand still or times when you feel too rushed, all because of events and circumstances happening to you that are outside your control. Truth is, life goes on so if you can find a place in the center of the Wheel where the turning is the least noticeable, where you become more an observer of the events happening in your life without being thrown all around by them, you can feel a sense of peace and stability even in the most trying of circumstances. If you can manage to achieve that place in the center, that's where Fate is ruled by Providence and becomes a divine gift. During the seemingly endless time spent in waiting rooms and hospital treatment cubicles, I spent a lot of time in my own thoughts. I watched people and mused on their actions, situations, and circumstances. I taught my daughter about the "magic button" she can press between her eyebrows that brings about a sense of calm and spent a lot of time massaging that area on her forehead. I held her and stroked her hair and just spent time being her mother. Though the evening was tiring, I never once felt stressed or tense or too worried. We were exactly where we needed to be given the circumstances and while physically uncomfortable, I was emotionally and mentally quite at peace.
True to the spirit of The Wheel, as promised, I chose the winner of the Halloween Reading Contest today at random by drawing an entry from a Jack O' Lantern treat bucket. Fortuna has smiled on Katherine. Congratulations! She treated me to this deliciously funny site: Cats That Look Like Hitler. Happy Halloween!
The Tarot of the Master is produced by Lo Scarabeo in Italy, but is distributed in the US by Llewellyn. Copyright 2002.