Ancient Egyptian Study Group - X Wheel of Fortune


This card shows perpetual change that is blind and unstoppable, that destroys what it creates and that represents the progress of time and the unswerving course of fate. While the turning of the wheel may seem random, it isn't. The turning of the wheel also isn't inherently good vs evil or beneficial vs malevolent - those are human perceptions of a process that is impersonal and unemotional, a process that is beyond human understanding and a process to which even the gods were subject.

While one should not fight the turning of the wheel (see the sphinx below), one also should not refuse to act because whatever's going to happen is going to happen. Sometimes the wheel turns because of one's actions and sometimes it turns in spite of one's actions. The turning of the wheel is part of a cycle. The more negative or unpleasant results of that cycle are as necessary and important as the more positive and pleasant aspects. When something "bad" (human reaction) happens due to the turning of the wheel, one can wallow in self-pity and/or misery or one can decide to learn something from the experience.

The spiral-horned, ram-headed god Khnum is the central figure in the card. He was the god of fertility and creation. Before him on his potter's wheel is Harpocrates, the child of silence (his finger is to his lips - see the Fool), who represents mankind. When creating each individual, Khnum gave each person a set amount of time in which they could live.

Behind Khnum is the greater wheel, which has ten spokes that correspond to the number of sephiroth, which in turn represent the manifestation of the universe.

On the wheel itself, Set is falling down one side while his son Anubis climbs up the other. A sphinx sits immobile at the top of the wheel. The sphinx has a human head and a lion's body, which symbolizes both invincibility and superiority. This sphinx is "on top of the world" and the sword it holds in its right paw shows that it will fight to stay there. Its body language also gives the impression that it doesn't plan on moving anytime soon. But if the gods can't stop the turning of the wheel, we know the sphinx's position will change whether the sphinx wants it or not. The sword suggests that the sphinx will fight its descent down the wheel, making the process more difficult than it has to be.

The letter Kaph is associated with this card, and it means the palm of the hand. Khnum shows his right palm. The palm spins both the potter's wheel of creation and the greater wheel of universal will. The palm is also part of the hand that shapes mankind.

Jupiter is also associated with this card. It brings good fortune.

Five deities are depicted at the base which supports the potter's wheel. Ra, represented by the sun, is the original creator god, without whom Khnum wouldn't have been able to make humans. Below Ra are Amunet and Amun. Amun was the breath of life, which created the ba (individual personality, which would have been an important aspect of the newly created being). Amunet was Amun's feminine aspect. Below them are Isis and I believe Horus. Isis is the patroness of loving wives and mothers, into whom Khnum's creations would be placed so that they could give birth. I'm not sure why Horus is depicted though.

The blue of Khnum's cloak suggests creativity.

The four elements are depicted in the corners of the card. In the lower right corner, the lion represents fire through its association with the sun. The bird flying in the upper right corner represents air. The bull in the lower left corner represents water through the association of its horns with the moon. Finally, the man in the upper left corner represents the earth from which he was fashioned by Khnum.

The gold of the potter's wheel and base and of the larger wheel behind Khnum suggests wisdom and the attraction of the power of cosmic forces.