Cards of Change

Greek philosopher Heraclitus (533-475 BCE) was a noted philosopher of change. Everyone, at some point, has heard two of his more common phrases: You can’t step twice into the same river and Everything changes and nothing stands still. Basically, the only constant is that everything changes. What cards in the tarot indicate change? And what changes do those cards herald?

Every card can indicate change because we are constantly evolving, but here are a few of the “big” change cards:

10 Wheel of Fortune – Seize fortune in both hands and spin the wheel. Fortune has it’s ups-and-downs; one minute you are on top of the world and the next you are on the bottom. This is the cycle of change that constantly happens; up-and-down. When the Wheel of Fortune comes up, it tells you two things. First that the wheel is constantly turning and there is nothing that can be done to stop it. Second, that when opportunity knocks, fortune favors the brave. Approach change looking for the opportunity and jump on it. Or the wheel will run you over.

13 Death – Death is inevitable (as are taxes). It is the great equalizer among all people. There is nothing that can be done to avoid it; it can only be delayed. But it is something that everyone knows is going to happen. This card signifies the inevitability of change, that which cannot be escaped. It is the natural turning of the wheel, the change of seasons. But it can be planned for, you might not have all the details but when this card comes up you know that change will follow it. And what follows that change is the possibility of something new. Look at the forest in winter: all of the trees are dead, but come spring everything has a renewed sense of life. With death comes rebirth. What every change this card heralds in the reading, you know new opportunities and potentials will follow.

16 The Tower – This is the sudden storm that wipes the slate clean, the change that comes out of nowhere and tries knocks you off you feet. The Tower is the change that can’t be predicted or stop (not that any change can be stopped). This is the “jump on the change wagon” because it is coming and you can’t stop it. If you look at almost every version of this card, the top of the Tower is coming apart at the seams, but the base is firm and untouched by the destruction. Even though the surface of things may change the deeper truth will remain constant because it was built to last.

21 The World – Everything eventually comes to completion. Whether it is a marriage, birth, graduation, every life stage ends. But as one stage ends another begins. The World represents that; each year the earth makes a full rotation around the sun only to begin again; each day the moon revolves around the earth. These revolutions are the end of one phase and the beginning of another. The World indicates that a change is going to happen, but that the door will open new possibilities. Even though things may follow the same pattern, we are not the same. This is the river we can’t step back into because the very act of moving has changed us.

The Tens – At the end of every cycle, it begins again. The Tens are best linked to the Wheel of Fortune (10) and the World (21); both cards that indicate the enduring cycles of life. The Tens bring it down into the material world: family, intellect, love, decisions. Coins and Cups both indicate the ultimate pinnacle of love and family and the passing of the torch to the next generation (Coins) and the next stage of love (Cups). The Wands indicate the pressure of a full brain, needing to scale back because we have reached an absolute limit of our capacity. Swords, on the other hands, are the exhaustion that comes with a bad situation; the good here is that things are as bad as possible. In all of these, the change that the Tens herald is the ultimate end of one life stage and the start of another, either through deeper insight or life-stage.

Every reading indicates change; change of fortune, knowledge, or life. When these cards come up you know that change is coming. Every change presents an opportunity to evolve and grow. Finding the meaning in the change is one of the best uses of the tarot. What will you do with your change?