In the night, twelve elegantly dressed princesses travel. One is in a ship with a man, rowing towards a castle that is brightly lit under a full moon. Stairs lead down to a deck with a light, where other boats are.The first princess is blonde with a yellow dress that has green sleeves and butterfly detailing. The second has brown hair and a green dress on with celestial detailing. The third is blonde with brown swirls and a brown cape, with a yellow dress. The fourth has black long hair and a purple dress. The fifth has blonde hair and a fan with a gold dress, while the sixth has brown hair and a brown dress. The seventh has a fan and gray hair with a green dress and the rest are all blue, perhaps too far away to see. They are standing on the water in a circle.
The wheel turns, repeating the cycle. Likewise, the twelve princesses- like the twelve months- are standing in a circular pattern, as if they repeat. The water symbolizes emotion.
The basic fairy tale from once upon a fairy tale (The Twelve Dancing Princesses):
A cow herder named Michael has three dreams where a beautiful maiden tells him to go to the castle of Beloeil, where he would marry a princess. Twelve beautiful princesses lived there, and though their door was locked, in the morning their shoes would have holes in them. The duke created a proclamation that whoever could find out how it happened, would marry one of them. Many tried, but all failed. Michael became the gardener, and the maiden gave him two trees, a rake, bucket, and towels, and told him to plant them and get a wish. He wishes to be invisible and sneaks into the princesses’ room. He follows the princesses and discovers their secret- they were meeting princes at a secret castle. He follows them every night and brings back a token which he places in the youngest’s flowers. He breaks the enchantment and marries her.
This was always one of my favorite fairy tales. The gardener succeeds by following the maiden’s advice. Likewise, we can succeed by following our inner self’s guidance that we discovered in the hermit.
book symbolism, etc:
The castle is the ultimate destination. The moon reminds us of the constant rotation of the diurnal cycle. The water is the subconscious. Everything is in flux- opportunities and fortunes may come and go. Remain flexible, and expose yourself to change.
variations of The 12 dancing princesses:
-The Shoes that were Danced to Pieces (Germany): Once a king had 12 beautiful daughters whose shoes were danced to pieces overnight. Whoever found out where they went could choose one to marry and would be king when the king died. A poor wounded soldier gets advice from an old woman and a cloak. He pours out the wine the princesses give him, and follows them (invisible) through a trap door. They go through three forests: one of silver, gold, and diamonds. 12 boats wait with 12 princes in them. He follows them three times, taking a token each night, and marries the oldest.
-The Invisible Shepherd Boy (Hungary): Saint Peter grants a shepherd boy 1 wish- a bag that can never be filled and an invisible pelt. Boy goes to find out how the 12 princesses are ruining their shoes so he can marry the youngest. The boy lay in his pelt and slips into their room. At midnight a spirit wakes the 11 older sisters, and the boy wakes the youngest, who is convinced to join them. They all rub an ointment on their shoulders that grows them wings, and then they all fly through a window and over forests of copper, silver and gold, ending in a fairy cave where they dance all night. The boy takes tokens from each forest, and marries the youngest sister who testifies with him, while the 11 older sisters born as sorceresses.
Traditional meanings of the Wheel of Fortune (From Gray’s book):
The wheel carries men and their destinies up and down. The serpent represents the life-force on its descent into manifestation. The jackal is the symbol of intelligence aspiring to ascend while evil is descending into darkness and disintegration. The three circles of the wheel- inner is creative force, middle is formative power, outer is material world. The eight spokes represent universal radiant energy. The Spinx at the top is wisdom and equilibration- we are not always governed by chance- we have the power to change our lives. This card is the perpetual motion of a fluid universe and the flux of human life within it. Success, change of fortune for the better. Reversed is failure, a need for courage, and reaping what you sow.
The circular motif- the perpetual cycle of motion is key.
The Wheel (From Journey of the hero):
The hero is ready to ask “What is my task?” The Wheel of Fortune, or luck, is continually turning, and constantly bringing forth new things, while others pass in turn. The figures- Anubis and Seth- symbolize this. The combined symbolism means this:
“Becoming, exsisting, and passing are the powers that keep the wheel of time in motion. They manifest themselves in the rising, creative aspect (Anubis), the existing maintaining powers (Sphinx), and the descending, destructive side (Seth). Together these correspond with a divine law (Torah and JHVH), which challenges human beings to transform from the base to the higher qualities (alchemical symbolism)”. (Page 88)
When this card appears, the theme in question now enters into our life in order to be mastered. The wheel represents all the tasks we have to accomplish in our lifetime. The four cherebiums represent the four elements and the four temperaments- thinking, feeling, intuition, and sensation types. We now begin our descent into the dark and negative polarity. These experiences are necessary and inevitable. The ego hates change, but the refusal to carry out the change of course will lead to the hanged man. Archetype is the call.
Related to the fairy tale tarot version of The Wheel:
The poor gardener heeds the call of the beautiful maiden, accepting the changes and tasks at hand. The youngest daughter likewise does, and they end up happy.
Meditation/writing jump off:
Silently I followed the 12 princesses across the water, captivated by the wonders I saw. Following the maiden’s advice was the best thing I had ever done. Change was here! After being on the bottom for so long, I was now, finally, on the top!