The Eight of Wands – A One Page Guide

The Eight of Wands is notable for its differences versus other cards in the minor arcana. The first thing one notices is that there aren’t any people. If you exclude the Aces, only this and the Three of Swords among the minor arcana depict no people. The second thing we note is that Wands don’t normally fly. At least we hope they don’t. But in this case, the Wands fly like arrows because the astrological sign for this card’s decan is Sagittarius, who is the centaur hunter with the bow and arrows. Both the qabalistic and the elemental influences signify movement and action. Hod even represents the feet, though its hermetic interpretation also includes “motion through the immovable,” which may represent a magical movement. Fire additionally conveys “conversion” as a possible meaning (think of the chemical effect of fire), which may tie into Waite’s stress upon the movement approaching a threshold or end of journey. Jupiter, the planetary influence provides the characteristic of having a purpose or goal, related to and extending that same meaning. The Eight of Wands, therefore, is fairly straightforward in taking its divinatory meanings from its astrological/qabalistic/alchemical influences, though there are one or two minor points of variance, which we’ll explain in the main posting.

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The Wheel of Fortune as “Meta-Card”

As a “meta-card,” the Wheel of Fortune is a tarot-card-about-tarot-cards. As the bearer of many symbols of divination, the card itself symbolizes fortune telling. As a “map compass” it provides context for the other cards in the drawing. At least that is my contention. I have created an exercise using a variation of the Zodiac Wheel (soon to be finished, I promise!) to illustrate. The Wheel of Fortune, Rota Fortunae, is the Wheel of the Zodiac. We trace its history as a symbol of the celestial spheres, and as a medieval metaphor–not just as a metaphor for the ups and downs of life, but as an exhortation to live a good life, in hopes of a better afterlife. What it boils down to, for those that read tarot is this: I see it as a cue to the reader to modify the overall message conveyed by the divinatory meanings of the other cards. The call is to make sure “the bottom line” is of a dual or mixed nature, up and down, sweet and sour. I think that when the Wheel of Fortune tarot card appears, it advises that whatever the outcome of the other cards, be it wealth, love, or whatever, it is a sign that very seldom will the soul (or querent, for that matter) be wholly happy or wholly unhappy with the outcome.

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