Wheel of Change

This spread is designed to make use of the unique energy and symbolism of the eight-spoked Wheel of Fortune in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, to help the querent cope successfully with changes in his or her life.  The first four cards work with the alchemical symbols on the Wheel to provide understanding of the changes and help effect the transformation that needs to occur. The middle card sits at the hub of the wheel, the place which turns but does not move.  This card helps us find our center and provides some stability through the change.  The last four cards work with the astrological and elemental energies in the corners of the Wheel of Fortune card to provide additional information and to give the querant a plan of action for working with the changes.

                   2Wheel of Fortune

       6                      7

  3               5               1

       8                      9


Card 1. Sulfur/Expansion The energies that are coming into my life

Card 2. Mercury/Integration The energies I need to balance and integrate

Card 3. Salt/Contraction The energies that are leaving my life

Card 4. Water/Dissolution That which I need to let go of

Card 5. Center The part of myself or my life that remains unchanged

Card 6. Aquarius/Air What I need to know about these changes

Card 7.  Scorpio/Water My emotional response to these changes

Card 8.  Taurus/Earth Where I can find stability and practical support

Card 9.  Leo/Fire What actions I can take to make the best of these changes

To assist in working with the first four cards, here is some information on the alchemical symbols. Starting in the east or 3:00 position and moving counter-clockwise around the wheel we have:

Sulfur expansion
Mercury integration
Salt contraction
Water dissolution

The first three elements listed above represent three basic principals in alchemy from which all life is considered to be derived these could be listed as the process of birth, life, and death and can be considered to correspond to other 3-part systems like Maiden/Mother/Crone.  However, there is a tension here between the number three and four.  Like the Goddess cycle having three parts but represented by a four-phase moon cycle, Waite felt it was appropriate to add a fourth principal partly because it made his Wheel more aesthetically balanced, but also as a counter-principal to Mercury's integration.  Dissolution could be considered as that phase that takes place between death and rebirth, when the personality of the physical lifetime dissolves away and only the higher self remains.  It can also be likened to the New Moon phase, or the winter season.  Here are some additional correspondances for these four card positions that may help provide insight when working with this spread:

Card 1. Sulfur expansion Spring, first quarter (waxing) moon, Maiden
Card 2. Mercury integration Summer, full moon, Mother
Card 3. Salt contraction Fall, third quarter (waning) moon, Crone
Card 4. Water dissolution Winter, new moon, unknown

The four winged creatures in the corners of the Rider-Waite-Smith card represent the four "fixed" astrological signs of Taurus (bull), Leo (lion), Scorpio (eagle), and Aquarius (man).  Fixed signs are considered steady, powerful, purposeful, and goal-oriented.  Perhaps these were the qualities that Waite thought were important in dealing with Destiny or the Wheel of Fortune! Together, these four creatures make up the Sphinx, which has the hind-quarters of the bull, the paws of a lion, the wings of the eagle, and the head of a man. The Sphinx sits in a commanding position on top of the Wheel of Fortune and is considered to hold the answers to the riddles and mysteries of the universe.  Therefore, the key to successfully negotiating the changes brought by the Wheel of Fortune is in balancing all four energies and bringing them to bear on the situation. Each of these astrological signs represents one of the four elements, earth, fire, water, and air, respectively. The last four cards of the spread work with these energies to help provide a blueprint for moving forward and working with the changes that are happening.



Illustrations from Universal Waite, Hanson-Roberts, Spiral, Ancestral Path, Herbal, Dragon, Halloween, Russian Tarot of  St. Petersburg, Medieval Scapini, Crow's Magick and Tarot of Ceremonial Magick tarot decks reproduced by permission of US Games Systems Inc. Copyrights © 1990, 1998, 1999, 1996, 1990, 1996, 1996, 1996, 1985, 1998, 1995 respectively by US Games Systems, Stamford, CT.

Wheel of Change tarot cards © 1997 Alexandra Genetti


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