XIX. The Wheel of Life - Image - Kali - Jupiter
Another revolution of the Wheel, and we spin off into another level of our evolutionary process. The Wheel of Life illustrates the constancy of nature's ever-expanding cyclic changes; light to dark, ebb to flow, and life to death. The planet Jupiter rules this card; in earlier decks, the concept of luck, chance or fate (as in the Wheel of Fortune) was an appropriate interpretation.
In The Wheel of Life, we don't see luck or fate as something that suddenly drops into our laps or hands, rather, it is the gift which comes as a result of an awareness of cycles and timing.
Because we are usually riding the hub of this great Wheel (being self-centered), enmeshed in our day-to-day struggles, we often miss the Jupiterian "Big Picture." When we place ourselves (the ego) outside, on the circumference of the Wheel, we are then capable of a more philosophical overview of events; we are in a better position to make our own luck, or consciously reap the benefits of a cycle which has come to term.
The Wheel is the universal symbol for cycles. The symbolism of the Wheel is also thus referred to by Neumann: "In the Western Middle Ages, we find a symbol corresponding exactly to the Tibetan Wheel of Life, this is the wheel of life... as Wheel of Mother Nature, on which the ascending cycle of human life is represented. Below the wheel is held the Earth Goddess, above, on a throne sits three-headed Time (i.e., an angel-like female figure) whose wings are the months and who makes life revolve with the alternations of day and night."
For my image of the Wheel of Life, I included a composite of various cyclic symbols. I drew heavily on Tantric images such as Kali, the White Dakini and the triple-headed Goddess image, above the circumference of the Wheel. The ancient Tantric tradition is extremely important; it is the only portion of the Hindu religion that reveres women and discourages the racist caste system. This tradition may also be the origin of the female-centered Sufi sect.
Enthroned on the Wheel is a triple-headed winged Goddess. Her first aspect is the "white dove (the virgin creatress)"; the second is the "blood red serpent (the Mother and preserver)"; and the last is the "black sow (the Crone and destroyer)". Her two six-fold wings represent the 12 months of the year. Rising from the bottom of the Wheel is the White Dakini, an embodiment of female wisdom-energy. The Dakinis, or Skywalkers, were Tantric priestesses and attendant spirits to Kali, their mistress. The 64 Dakinis are traditionally expressions of archetypal energies within each person. According to Tantric teaching, the visualization of each of these archetypes can bring about profound alterations in one's consciousness; this is yet another turn of the wheel.
Below the Dakini is Kali, the birth-death Goddess who is "simultaneously womb and tomb, giver of life and devourer of her children." Kali's name literally meant "Black Mother Time" and Hers was a world of "eternal living flux from which all things rose and disappeared again, in endless cycles." She appears as the black devouring crone with protruding tongue and wide, all-seeing eyes. She's wearing the traditional skull-necklace.
At the hub of the Wheel sits the Sphinx, a symbol of our essence, which never changes from lifetime to lifetime. Around her whirls a Lemurian Wheel of Life symbol. She is also the focus of a smaller zodiac wheel, complete with all the astrological signs and symbols. The lower hemisphere is dark, representing the night, while the upper portion is light like the day.
Around the wheel of the zodiac, the letters T-A-R-O-T appear, as in the Rider/Waite deck. They can be used to create the anagram TAROT, ROTA, ORAT, TORA and ATOR, which means: The royal road, the wheel, speaks the law of Ator (Hathor or Mother Nature). The rearranging of these same four letters to create different words and concepts is symbolic of reincarnation; we try on different bodies and personalities to learn each lesson.
When receiving this card, know that you are on the brink of a major change. This is an auspicious time and the end of a cycle of development. The boons or failures that you incur at this time are directly related to your own efforts in the past. As the Great Wheel turns under the watchful eye of Kali, remember that as each new cycle begins, we get another chance.