The Fairy Tarot
(Wheel of Fortune – Arcana X)
In this series of posts, I plan to discuss all of the Tarot cards in order, using a different deck for each card. Today I'm exploring Trump 10 from The Fairy Tarot (artist: Antonio Lupatelli). In this deck, Trump 10 features The Oread.
In ancient Greek mythology, Oreads were nymphs associated with mountains and grottoes. (The word comes from the Greek oreios, meaning "of a mountain.") The American writer Hilda Doolittle wrote an evocative poem about Oreads:
Whirl up, sea --
Whirl your pointed pines,
Splash your great pines
On our rocks;
Hurl your green over us,
Cover us with your pools of fir.
In The Fairy Tarot book by Helene and Doris Saltarini (translation by Liz O’Neill), the Oread is described as "the spirit of Fortune, that travels through this Kingdom spellbound, pedaling on her wheel."
Book T associates the Wheel of Fortune card with the planet Jupiter, planet of luck and expansion – and looking at this Oread, we can see a clear connection!
The Oread wears a fruit-bearing plant on her hat (fruitfulness, abundance). I don‛t know what kind of plant it is (but then, what I know about plants would fit on a fairy‛s thumbnail). Her wheel bears carvings that look to me like: a goblet, two snakes, the sun, the symbol for the planet Neptune (trident), a goat, and two objects that resemble arrowheads (?) with a small star between them – plus two carvings that are hidden by the Oread‛s leg – eight images in all. There are many ways to interpret these. They could be references to the elements (Water, Fire, Earth, Air).
The Oread‛s gown is blue, a color Jack Tresidder tells us (in The Dictionary of Symbols) is an attribute of Jupiter and also symbolic of "infinity, eternity, truth, devotion, faith, purity, chastity, peace, spiritual and intellectual life." The sky is pink, commonly seen as an indication of harmony and emotional love. The fairy‛s wings are purple, the color of royalty and dignity, and decorated with yellow circles with red centers which look very solar in nature.
Upright Divininatory Meanings provided by the Saltarinis: "triumph of fortune; joyful news from everywhere will reach you and above all you will feel strong and happy inside, and will not forget those who have need of you."
Reversed or poorly placed in a spread: "Attention, do not immediately accept everything that is offered to you in abundance, but choose and evaluate each situation carefully. Think also of its development and not only of the present moment."
The Oread reminds me that no matter what type of "fortune" I seem to be experiencing right now, this too shall pass. Take nothing for granted. Expect the best, but plan for the worst. The wheel turns. The Oread pedals around the bend and back again.
* "Oread" by Hilda Doolittle, taken from Modern American poetry: an introduction, edited by Louis Untermeyer.