There are hidden religious/philosophical messages inside the tarot cards. In a previous post I have spoken about a possible hidden apocalyptic message. In this post I want to explore briefly about a connection between The Wheel of Fortune and The World.
The image of the Wheel of Fortune has changed since the creation of the Waite-Smith Tarot deck in which the Wheel of Fortune began to resemble the image of The World. The same is the case with The Lovers and The Devil. The reason for this in my opinion is to kind of interplay of each other’s symbols. The common images also allows us to compare and contrast these images to find the special meaning in the pairing. We are meant to pay attention to these two cards because they share a commonality.
The Wheel of Fortune represents the nature of Fortune (Fortuna) which is random and fickle. When it comes to the Wheel of Fortune I prefer the older representations of a Fortuna’s Wheel (see image left). Which shows the rising and falling of man’s luck or disposition in life. However with the older image we cannot make a direct visual connection to The World and its hidden connection in religious meaning.
I want to now introduce you to a man name Boethius. Boethius was a Christian philosopher born in the 6th century of the common era who rose to high prestige and fame within government. Despite this he was imprisoned on charges of treason. Distraught with this sudden change in his life (once high now low) he wrote The Consolation of Philosophy, in which Philosophy, personified as a woman (Lady Philosophy), appears to offer him comfort and reassure him that human affairs are governed by an all-encompassing providence.
Boethius complains about his loss of good fortune to Lady Philosophy which she responds that it is the nature of Fortune to be fickle. He accepted the fortune which she brought in his life and now he must also accept the reversals.
Thou deemest Fortune to have changed towards thee; thou mistakest. Such ever were her ways, ever such her nature. Rather in her very mutability hath she preserved towards thee her true constancy. Such was she when she loaded thee with caresses, when she deluded thee with the allurements of a false happiness. – Book I
Lady Philosophy then asserts that the goods of fortune are not true goods. Boethius is lamenting the loss of goods which do not bring true Happiness. Lady Philosophy tells Boethius that all humans strive for one thing, they seek this one things in many paths and in different ways but the goal is Happiness. Happiness is a Good that when attainted all there are no other desires left. Lady Philosophy says that people try to obtain Happiness through wealth, public office, kingship, celebrity and pleasure. People think these paths will lead to happiness by self-sufficiency, respect, power, renown, joy respectively.
Only an eternal and permeant Good can bring Happiness. God is the source of Good and Happiness. By this association that God and happiness are the same humans become Happy by attaining divinity.
The World card is the symbol of divinity attained by the human. The World represents the Anima Mundi ( the world soul) to quote Robert M. Place
the World is what is good or desired. She is the achievement and culmination of our goals. on the highest level, She is the merging of our individual personality with the Anima Mundi, the soul of the world… To the Neoplatonic philosopher she is the highest form of the divine presence that we can comprehend. Alchemy and The Tarot Pg 197-198
The message that is being taught in The Wheel of Fortune and The World is that though we want good fortune in this life, we must aim our goals at the higher Good and thing that we make us whole and desire nothing else. The World is that fulfillment, The Good while the Wheel of Fortune is temporary happiness.