Wheel of Fortune Art and Meaning Court de Gebelin Trumps Deck
About the Deck
Drawn by Court de Gebelin in attempt to show that the Tarot was Egyptian in origin, these cards represent the height of circular logic. They are far more eighteenth-century than they are Egyptian, and in any case they are basically a reproduction of the far older Marseilles pattern tarot deck, with some ideological changes to help him prove his own point.
Court de Gebelin. France, 1781.
According to Many Schools of Thought
The Wheel of Fortune. There is a current Manual of Cartomancy which has obtained a considerable vogue in England, and amidst a great scattermeal of curious things to no purpose has intersected a few serious subjects. In its last and largest edition it treats in one section of the Tarot; which--if I interpret the author rightly--it regards from beginning to end as the Wheel of Fortune, this expression being understood in my own sense. I have no objection to such an inclusive though conventional description; it obtains in all the worlds, and I wonder that it has not been adopted previously as the most appropriate name on the side of common fortune-telling. It is also the title of one of the Trumps Major--that indeed of our concern at the moment, as my sub-title shews. Of recent years this has suffered many fantastic presentations and one hypothetical reconstruction which is suggestive in its symbolism. The wheel has seven radii; in the eighteenth century the ascending and descending animals were really of nondescript character, one of them having a human head. At the summit was another monster with the body of an indeterminate beast, wings on shoulders and a crown on head. It carried two wands in its claws. These are replaced in the reconstruction by a Hermanubis rising with the wheel, a Sphinx couchant at the summit and a Typhon on the descending side. Here is another instance of an invention in support of a hypothesis; but if the latter be set aside the grouping is symbolically correct and can pass as such.
Good Fortune, Success, Unexpected Luck
Ill-Fortune, Failure, Unexpected Ill-Luck.