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22/9 The Wheel #10
TEMPLE artefact #21
#10 The WHEEL final version, art by Rian Hughes
KEY WORDS – FORTUNE, LUCK, CYCLICAL CHANGE,
Our Wheel of Fortune is a CAR STEERING WHEEL.
Specifically, the wheel of a ’49 Hudson, the model driven across the USA by Neal Cassady, himself immortalized in Jack Kerouac’s On The Road as Dean Moriarty to Kerouac’s Sal Paradise. A Buddhist, Kerouac wrote extensively on the Wheel of Karma, steering wheels, and tyres.
The distinctive wheel of the ’49 Hudson Commodore that Cassady drove, with its ‘50s luxe stylings, tragically doesn’t quite fit our purposes here, but we can maybe keep the reference if we use the wheel from the ’49 Hudson Brougham rather than the Commodore. The Brougham wheel has three spokes radiating from the hub.
The central hub is a ROULETTE WHEEL in miniature. With the whole arrangement reminiscent of an EYE. Still and ever watchful through the ceaseless cyclical motion of the Wheel. The annihilating Eye of Shiva and of Horus.
There are three spokes radiating from the centre, like a CND symbol without its lower middle spoke. The axis is tilted to the right, so that we can imagine a clockwise direction.
This creates three divisions of space – each a different colour – WHITE for SATTVA, BLACK for TAMAS and RED for RAJAS.
Each of these three divisions represents one of the Hindu gunas – primordial tendencies or urges which yield to one another on an endless cycle through time.
Traditional Tarot packs show three creatures on the wheel – usually a SPHINX at the top, a SERPENT on the left, a MONKEY on the right. Here we’ll use game motifs representative of the gunas and also of the alchemical qualities…
Sattva balances forces and is lucid and calm. This is the Sphinx and Sulfur. At the top of the turning wheel, already tilting down to the right to suggest clockwise motion. We represent this with a PUZZLE BOX – a simple cube with a QUESTION MARK on one face.
Rajas the drive to energy, excitement, fire, motivation. It is represented by the Ape and Mercury (a perfect fit if we recall the meaning and importance of Ape of Thoth to Mercury/Hermes etc). Clambering up the left side of the wheel even as it turns to the right, we show a MONKEY with a LADDER (suggesting Snakes & Ladders, a game with its own interpretation of the ups and downs of the Wheel and our journey through life.
Tamas is the tendency toward darkness, inertia, death. It is represented by the Crocodile and Salt. Hanging off the wheel on the right like a fairground attendant. Our version, playing with the Snakes and Ladders motif, shows a classic SNAKE slithering down the right side of the wheel.
Through the spokes we see a lower plane behind the Wheel, further subdivded into TEN coloured slices – resembling like the gameshow Wheel of Fortune’s colourful spinning board.
Ten is the number of Malkuth, the material world where the spinning wheel of chance and luck can lift us up and hurl us down just as easily.
The Wheel is inside a virtual cloud – a glittering quantum sphere of probability.
Behind the Wheel is a Fortune Telling Palm illustration – the planetary attribution of this card is to Jupiter, and it is laughing Jupiter’s hand that spins the great Wheel so the Jupiter, or pointing, finger is prominent, with the god’s astrological sign at the base of the finger.
The Hebrew letter for this card is Kaph, which neatly means ‘palm of the hand’.
Combining the fortune-telling motif with Jupiter there are little ‘tea leaf’ symbols – a BELL and an OAK LEAF. My mum read tea leaves professionally for a while so this is a nod to her.
You can check out photographs of typical tea leaf patterns in cups (‘tasseography’ apparently, although ‘tasseomancy’ seems more accurate) and do a couple of little icons in that style. Repeated like a potato print, the bells and leaves seem to spill from the turning wheel.
The whole magnificent Wheel arrangement floats in a turbulent cosmic background medium – thick rolling purple storm, with crashing lightning and stars.
Lightning forks and divides explosively into the frothing purple semi-liquid cloud bubble at the bottom of the card – in the rich and turbulent liquid churn, we see little STICK AND BALL representations of the first complex molecules – life forming 4 billion years ago where lightning strikes a chemical soup of hydrogen, carbon, phosphates and sugars in the atmosphere – the first lucky break!