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TitleFortuna's Wheel: The Mysteries of Medieval Tarot - Nigel Jackson
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Page 1

FORTUNA'S WHEEL

THE MYSTERIES OF
MEDIEVAL TAROT

WRITTEN & ILLUSTRATED BY

NIGEL JACKSON

2006

Page 2

Copyright © Nigel Jackson, 2006
All Rights Reserved

No portion of this work may be reproduced or used in any form or means, graphic,
electronic, mechanical, including photocopying or information storage and retrieval systems,
without the express written consent of the copyright holder.

Printed in USA

Renaissance Astrology Web site
http://www..renaissanceastrology.com

Book Design by Christopher Warnock

Page 51

THE TWENTY ONE TRIUMPHS 43

bearer' and Plutarch says that it was the number of Apollo who is customarily
depicted steering the solar chariot. Cornelius Agrippa says this of the number
7:

And the Pythagorians call it the Vehiculum of mans life, which it
doth not receive from its parts so, as it perfects by its proper right
of its whole, for it contains body, and soul, for the body consists of
four Elements, and is endowed with four qualities: Also the number
three respects the soul, by reason of its threefold power, viz.
rationall, irascible, and concupiscible.

The chariot card clearly presents us with an emblem of the Platonic
vehiculum animae (vehicle of the soul) and Agrippa's description of the four
elements of the body and three faculties of the soul in man chimes perfectly
with a gloss on this card made by the 15th century Italian friar who wrote the
Steele Sermon for he tells us that around the 1450's 'The Chariot' (Lo caro
triumphale) was also known as mundus parvus, the 'little world' or 'world in
miniature' - man the microcosm. Agrippa also mentions another vehiculum in
relation to the number 7: "There are seven Stars about the Articke Pole,
greater, and lesser, called Charls-Wain". 'Charles Wain' is the old medieval
name for the circumpolar constellation of Ursa Major. Here we can trace
another tarological parallel in Dante Alighieri's Divine Commedia. In cantos 29
and 30 of Purgatorio the poet beholds a vision of Beatrice in the heavenly
triumphal chariot drawn by a winged griffin and surrounded by the six-
winged 'Holy Living Creatures'. At the right wheel danced three maids in red,
emerald-green and white robes who were the theological virtues Faith, Hope
and Charity; at the left hand wheel four purple-robed maidens representing
the cardinal virtues Justice, Prudence, Fortitude, Temperance. Dante uses
the word settentrion for this heavenly chariot and makes a connection between
this heavenly vehicle and the Septentrional stars, the 7 stars of Ursa Major.
The translator Peter Dale suggests that by settentrion Dante Alighieri intended
to convey the, "...idea of seven lights, which may allude to the seven gifts of
the Spirit." No doubt it refers to the 7 Virtues too. The heavenly chariot of
Dante's poetic vision represents the Church which was thought of as the
Mystical Body of Christ in the Middle Ages.

Divinatory Meaning

Momentum. Success. Triumphal progress. Victory. Conquest. Motion.
Vanquishing resistance. Efficiency and control. Overcoming. Greatness
achieved.

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FORTUNA'S WHEEL44

VIII JUSTICE

rump VIII La Giustizia illustrates the words of Wisdom in Proverbs 8:15:
"By me kings reign, and princes decree justice." At a literal level which as

Dante says, "...does not go beyond the strict limits of the letter" this card
images the legal codes and law tables decreed from on high which provide
justice and equity throughout the kingdom, the scales of fair trial and the
sword of punishment and expiation. At an allegorical level this card depicts
the Stoic Virtue of Justice, the impartial embodiment of probity and
lawfulness.

Justice in the moral sense is the lawful life and personal balance in accord
with Justice which we should strive to cultivate, a life of ethical harmony and
moral equilibrium. The qualities of Justice as defined by Cicero as 'a mental
habit harmonious with reason and the natural order of things.' As Proverbs
8:20 puts it: "I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice."
Or Deuteronomy 16:20: "Follow justice and justice alone..." The anagogic
interpretation or "...intimation of higher matters belonging to the eternal
glory" by which the VIIIth tarot trump denotes the Divine Wisdom whereby
"...kings reign and princes decree Justice" is symbolic of the eternal and
immutable order, the equilibrial balance of the creation which cannot be
violated with impunity.

This is the Platonic Idea of Justice in the Divine Mind, the eternal
archetype of Justice (Dike) in the Nous. This the 'Day of Justice' which
Albertus Magnus associates with the mystic symbolism of the number 8: here
we behold the cosmic balance and equilibrium governing the 8 spheres (7
planets and coelum stellatum) by the divine decree. John Heydon write in the
late 17th century that: "The Rosie Crucians call eight the number of Justice
and Fullnesse..." The paradigm as the immutable and archetypal principle in
the spiritual world, Divine Justice. As Psalm 45:6 says: "Your throne, O God,
will last for ever and ever; a sceptre of justice will be the sceptre of your
kingdom."

Cornelius Agrippa says, "The Pythagoreans call eight the number of
justice and fullness: first because it is first of all divided into numbers
equally...and by reason of this equality of division, it took to itself the name
of Justice." Elsewhere Agrippa says, "The number eight...contains the
mystery of Justice." As such this tarot card depicts the cardinal virtue Iusticia,
under the divine form of Themis, the Titaness of Law and Justice. It might
be seen as an image of her immortal daughter by Jupiter, Astraea ('Star-
Maiden'), who epitomized the sacral order which prevailed amongst the
humanity of the golden age. The scales she bears are the balance in which

T

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THE FOUR SUITS OF VIRTUE 93

family, settled ways, riches, house, property.

King of Coins - Caesar, a master or merchant, courageous and instinctual,
stoicism and patience, a wise and faithful man, aptitude for business.

Queen of Coins - Rachel, truthful and practical, confidence, a woman of
wealth and responsibility, liberality, generosity.

Knight of Coins - Patience and laboriousness, perseverance, advantageous
circumstance, utility and reliability.

Page of Coins - Hector, a messenger or letter with money enclosed, new
study, scholarly learning, diligence, good news.

Page 102

SELECTIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY

Agrippa, H.C., Three Books of Occult Philosophy (London 1651)
Anonymous, Meditations on the Tarot (London 1993)
Gombrich, E.H., Symbolic Images: Studies in the Art of the Renaissance

(London 1972)
Heydon, John, The Holy Guide (London 1662)
Holbein, Hans, The Dance of Death (New York 1971)
Huffman, William (ed.) Robert Fludd; Western Esoteric Masters Series

(California 2001)
Huson, Paul, Mystical Origins of the Tarot (Vermont 2004)
Huysmans, J.K., The Cathedral (Sawtry 1989)
Kaplan, Stuart, The Cary-Yale Visconti Tarocchi Deck (Stamford 1984)
Mayer, L.A., Mamluk Playing Cards (Leiden 1971)
Paracelsus, Selected Writings (New York 1951)
Plotinus, The Enneads, translated by S. McKenna (London 1991)
Scott,W. (trans.) The Corpus Hermeticum (Boston 1985)
Shephard, John, The Tarot Trumps; Cosmos in Miniature

(Wellingborough 1985)
Steele, Robert, 'A Notice of the Ludus Triumphorum and some Early

Italian Card Games.' Archaeologia vol.57 (London 1900)
Various, Concerning the Secrets of Alchemy & other tracts from

the Hermetic Museum ( Llanerch 1989)
Various, The Renaissance Astrology CD Library Vol I-III

(Washington 2004-5)
Warburg, A., Italian Art and International Astrology in the

Palazzo Schifanoia, Ferrara (Los Angeles 1999)
Williams, Charles, The Greater Trumps (London 1932)
Willshire, W.H., A Descriptive Catalogue of the Playing and

Other Cards in the British Museum. (London 1876)
Wind, Edgar, Pagan Mysteries in the Renaissance (London 1958)
Wirth, Oswald, Introduction to the Study of the Tarot

(Wellingborough 1981)

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