Tarot: Symbolism of the Wheel

Hermit’s view on Tomas Silverkin as the Wheel of Fortune:

Trump 10 in the Revenant Tarot deck
Trump 10 in the Revenant Tarot deck

The Wheel is luck, and change. It is unexpected fortune, and the turning of the seasons. It is a card of things that happen beyond anyone’s control, that change the entire direction of life. Tomas Silverkin is, then, one of the best examples of something that nobody could have predicted. What happens to him not only changes his life, and the very essence of his soul, but saves it as well. Highly fortuitous, for everyone involved.

This is a card full of symbols, and not just metaphorical ones. The first one the eye lands on when looking at this particular card, is the tattoo on Tomas’s back. It’s a triskelle, a symbol that, for the Druids, anyway, meant a convergence of Earth, Sea, and Sky. It can also stand for cycles like that of the Son, Father, and Sage, or Maiden, Mother, Crone, or even the three states of matter: solid, liquid, gas. Around that triskelle are three angular lines, which are in fact the three spokes of the Celtic triskelion, which, when put together, resembles three running legs in constant forward motion. It is a symbol of progress, rather than just cycles, and tends to be the more masculine version of the triskelle. Either way, both of them serve as the center point, the axis on which the rest of the Wheel turns.

Around the outside, forming the actual wheel shape, are the eight prongs of the Vegvísir, colloquially known as a “Viking Compass.” They stand for the four cardinal directions, and the four intermediary directions. They also stand for the eight seasonal celebrations of the pagan year: Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lughnasadh, Mabon, and Samhain. The symbols at the bases of the Vegvísir’s prongs are, at the cardinal directions, the symbols for the four elements, north being earth, east being wind, south being fire, and west being water. In the spaces for the intermediary directions are the symbols for the four Fixed signs of the western zodiac: Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius. All of this comes together to signify the constant continuation of time, the ever-turning wheel. The Vegvísir itself is also a kind of spiritual compass, leading the heart so that it doesn’t lose its way, or perhaps leading it toward victory, or fortune. The symbols of the outer circle are red, representing their connection to even the basic, underlying functioning of life, and life’s patterns.

Tomas, of course, is a symbol unto himself. His back is turned on the viewer, and the runes, suggesting that even he, as a Celestial Guardian, has no control over the workings of the Wheel, and neither does the viewer. He is wearing light red, which signifies a passion for life and living, but with a higher purpose than most basic needs. His wings are a symbol of the surprising twist of fate that landed him as one of Dinmora’s guardians, one that not even the Raven King expected to happen. Those wings carry Tomas through a bright blue background, the color being a symbol of wisdom. Depending on how the image is looked at, it could either be divine wisdom, if he is flying up into the sky, or subconscious wisdom, if he is flying over water. In this way, Tomas also becomes an Icarus-like figure, and in that sense, reminds us not to ride too high on the winds of fortune that will blow our way, lest we fall into the ocean of circumstance and drown in it.

The planetary ruler of this card is Jupiter, the signal of opportunities, growth, success, and expansion. Jupiter’s influence is more or less that of a generous king. It is the finder of treasure, the “’X’ marks the spot,” planet. Fitting, since the Roman numeral for the number 10 resembles the letter ‘X’. Jupiter represents the kind of gift that the Wheel pulls toward us.

The rune for this card is Jera, rune of the harvest, and time. It reminds us that everything comes in time, even the reward promised by the rest of the card. There is a rhythm to Jera, one of slow, measured growth, and patient practice. In this sense, it is a reminder that hard work pays off, and because of its place in this card, it can indicate that the work we’ve already put into a venture is about to pay off. Jera is our reminder that everything, even the unexpected, is somehow deserved.

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