The Rider Waite tarot cards The World and Wheel of Fortune are similar in their astrological symbolism. Both have the circle (or wheel in the center) and are surrounded by the four fixed signs. From upper left clockwise we have Aquarius (air), Scorpio (water), Leo (fire) and Taurus (earth). Aquarius and Leo are opposites as are Scorpio and Taurus.
In The World card, the fixed signs have their traditional symbolism of the human water bearer (Aquarius), eagle (Scorpio, which is also the Scorpion), lion (Leo) and bull (Taurus).
In Wheel of Fortune, our fixed signs have wings and each carries a book. According to Rachel Pollack in Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom, they are holding books because they are “identified with the four evangelists” of Christianity.
Pollack further describes the symbolism of the Wheel of Fortune’s letters (taro, rota, etc) and the animals riding on the outside of the wheel (snake, jackal Annubis and sphinx) which represent stages of life, death and rebirth.
Pollack goes into much greater detail. If you use tarot and don’t have her book, run, don’t walk, to your nearest Amazon.com.
In the Center or Hanging Off the Wheel?
Another important difference in these two cards is that the Wheel of Fortune has the sentient beings on the outside of the wheel while in The World card, the being is in the center. The being in the center looks quite balanced, connected and happy.
The eye of the storm is calm as it creates the force rotates around it. Possibly this is the same with the horoscope. By being in the center, we are not subject to the ups and downs of that rotating wheel which bring cycles of life, death and rebirth.
The cycle of life, death and rebirth seems beyond our individual life. Yet maybe it’s not. Maybe all of our “ups” and “downs” are merely this cycle which we simply don’t acknowledge.
For example, in this culture at this time, illness is viewed as a preventable aberration. No matter how many shots we get, how many vitamins we take, how many healthcare plans we have, the common cold prevails. When the common cold occurs, there is a strong resistance to allowing it to be what it is. If the body is simply seeking rest, why are we so resistant?
In the north, we get most of our colds during the late fall winter, as nature around us is dying. Nature is dying, the sunlight is lessened, so maybe it’s okay to crawl in bed for a few days. Why are we so resistant?
The World card, with the being at the center, brings to mind the concept of meditation. Being centered doesn’t mean the external doesn’t cycle and rotate. Meditation tries (I think) to alter the relationship to that motion. In simple terms, you don’t have to react to every single stimulation.
In the eye of the horoscope, maybe you don’t have to worry about full moons and Saturn transits and someone’s Pluto on your Venus (although I’d still suggest running for the hills on this one). As an astrologer, horoscopes are accurate to me, which is bothersome. I’d much prefer they weren’t.
In the center of the horoscope, maybe we can surprise ourselves and others.