Doctor Who and the Major Arcana: The Wheel of Fortune

We’ve arrived at our eleventh stop on our tour of #22DoctorWhoTarotQuotes, so let’s use a quote from the Eleventh Doctor to take a closer look at the meaning of The Wheel of Fortune, the tenth major arcana tarot card.

In Vincent and the Doctor, Amy is disappointed to realize that she and the Doctor were unable to assuage the distress and mental illness of Vincent Van Gogh enough to prevent him from taking his own life. The Doctor comforts her, saying, “The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant.”

I think this is a terrific illustration of what the Wheel of Fortune tells us. The great wheel of life turns and turns; sometimes, we’re on the upswing and all is wonderful, and then but a turn later, we’re sliding down and out of control. I also considered a very similar quote (also from Matt Smith’s Doctor) from one of the Christmas episodes that says more or less the same thing: “Because every time you see them happy you remember how sad they’re going to be. And it breaks your heart. Because what’s the point in them being happy now if they’re going to be sad later. The answer is, of course, because they are going to be sad later.”

The Wheel of Fortune speaks to the cycles of life, and of turning points, and of giving in to the things that are largely out of your control. It reminds you that neither the good times nor the bad times last forever, so enjoy the good times while they last and if you’re being crushed under the weight of fortune’s great wheel, hang on – the upswing is coming around again.

As a Chariot sort of girl who likes to be in the drivers’ seat, I find the Wheel of Fortune oddly comforting. Handing over control and trusting in the great cycles of life can be a relief and a welcome break from always struggling for control. Which of the major arcana do you find comforting?

The next stop on our #22DoctorWhoTarotQuotes adventure is Justice, and we’ll step away from the TV show and into the deep well of audio books for that quote!

Doctor Who and the Major Arcana: The Hermit

After a brief hiatus, we’re back with our trip through the universe of Doctor Who and #22DoctorWhoTarotQuotes, using quotes from the Doctor to illustrate the meanings behind each of the tarot cards in the major arcana.

Today’s quote relates to the Hermit, and it’s a long one from the Eleventh Doctor in The Rings of Akhaten: “I have lived a long life, and I have seen a few things. I walked away from the Last Great Time War. I marked the passing of the Time Lords. I saw the birth of the universe and I watched as time ran out, moment by moment, until nothing remained; no time, no space. Just me. I walked in universes where the laws of physics were devised by the mind of a madman. I watched universes freeze and creations burn. I have seen things you wouldn’t believe, I have lost things you will never understand. And I know things, secrets that must never be told, knowledge that must never be spoken.”

I chose this quote because it captures the solitary nature of the Hermit and the quest for knowledge. The Doctor knows more than we can imagine about the nature of the universe, and relies on that knowledge to forge ahead. (In context, since it’s hollered as a challenge to a soul-eating godlike creature, it doesn’t exactly align well with what we understand of the solitary, seeking nature of the Hermit. Sometimes, we have to make editorial choices. It was either this or a cheeky quote from David Tennant’s Doctor about “Hermits United” and how they “meet up every 10 years, swap stories about caves. It’s good fun… for a hermit.”)

The Hermit, like the Doctor, seeks meaning. The Hermit has chosen solitude to better attune to his own inner wisdom, but the Doctor often struggles with loneliness as companions come and go. Though the Doctor usually favours action over contemplation, the Thirteenth Doctor choosing to remain in prison for 79 years meditating on her identity is well-aligned with the nature of the Hermit.

What do you think? Do you see the Doctor as a solitary seeker? Does this quote resonate with the Hermit as you understand it?

Next up on #22DoctorWhoTarotQuotes is one of my favourites, the Wheel of Fortune. Are you willing to cede control to the forces of the universe?

Doctor Who and the Major Arcana: Strength

On our voyage through tarot’s major arcana cards, exploring the meaning of each card through the lens of a quote from Doctor Who, we have reached card number 8, Strength.

Strength, in the sense of this tarot card, is not about the sort of physical strength that allows you to bench 200 lbs or win an arm-wrestling contest. The Rider-Waite-Smith card shows a person taming a lion, which is often interpreted to mean using inner strength to combat our wilder, more primitive urges. I tend to read it as being about compassion and courage, which ties in perfectly to this quote going way back to the Third Doctor: “Courage isn’t just a matter of not being frightened, you know. It’s being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway.”

I love this interpretation of Strength. It’s very personal, more about discipline and self-control than overpowering someone. I’ve read that while the Chariot signifies outer strength and determination, Strength, the card that follows, speaks to inner strength, stamina and persistence. When I see this card come up in a reading, I feel like I can hear the Universe whispering confidence into my ear: “You’ve got this!”

The Doctor is strong in this way. They aren’t particularly fit or physically impressive, but they don’t cower in the face of monsters much larger, much stronger, or much more physically intimidating. The Doctor uses courage, compassion and their wits to overcome their opponents or adversity, not physical strength.

What do you think of this reading of Strength? Are you in control of your inner beast, of the darkness within?

In the next post of #22DoctorWhoTarotQuotes, we’ll look deep within and examine The Hermit.

Doctor Who and the Major Arcana: The Chariot

In today’s journey through the major arcana as illustrated by quotes from Doctor Who, we’ve reached The Chariot, a card about agency, willpower, and self-determination.

I’m personally invested in this card as it is my birth year card – which probably explains my life-long control issues. 🙂 The Chariot is about action through harnessing the divergent forces in your life (intellect vs emotion, work vs play, ego vs others, etc) and mastering the energy so that it’s working for you instead of against you.

Sometimes, though, you need to do a little fake-it-’til-you-make-it to get yourself moving in the right direction, and that’s why I chose this quote from Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor: “Do what I do. Hold tight and pretend it’s a plan!” You don’t need to be an expert, you don’t need to be 100% sure it’s the right path or the right plan, sometimes you just need to gather the reins and your wits and move.

Taking another pop culture spin on this card, have you read or seen Good Omens? There’s a scene where Crowley the demon is holding together his vintage Bentley through sheer force of will. The tires have melted on the rims, the doors have been blown apart, and it’s on fire, but it’s still together by the sheer force of Crowley’s will. There’s a lot of the Chariot in that, too – the idea of mastering both your internal impulses and the external forces around you by strength of will and self-control.

When the Chariot comes up, it’s time for action. Grab those reins and get yourself in motion, and trust that the plan will fall into place when you need it.

Next up on #22DoctorWhoTarotQuotes is card number 8 of the major arcana, Strength.

Doctor Who and the major arcana: The Lovers

It’s a new year, a Hierophant year. Happy new year to you all!

We’re now six cards in to #22DoctorWhoTarotQuotes, our voyage through the tarot cards, linking up wisdom gleaned from Doctor Who quotes with each card of the major arcana.

If you subscribe the major arcana as the Fool’s Journey, the Lovers represents the spot where the Fool takes the what they learned from family (parental figures of the Emperor and Empress) and structured education and community (the Hierophant) and moves off to begin their own life. The Lovers represents on the surface romantic love and life partnership, but it also has a traditional meaning of choice: the Fool comes to a place where they must choose between the family that raised them and beginning a new family.

You can see a shadow of this choice in the appearance of most of the companions in the “new” Doctor Who (Doctors 9 through 13) where a companion must choose between an exciting new adventure with the Doctor, or the structures and traditions of the life they’ve always known.

Of course, there’s plenty of romantic love in Doctor Who, too. This collage from BBC America for Valentine’s Day in 2018 shows just a few of the iconic couples that have been featured over the years.

Image courtesy of @BBCDoctorWho on Twitter

For the purposes of today’s quote from Doctor Who, I’ve chosen to go with the romantic love and partnership aspect of The Lovers, and this quote from David Tennant’s 10th Doctor from the episode Fear Her: “There’s a lot of things you need to get across this universe. Warp drive… wormhole refractors… You know the thing you need most of all? You need a hand to hold.”

I listen to the Doctor Who podcast Verity quite a bit (highly recommended if you’re a Whovian) and in a recent episode they were discussing whether any hanky-panky takes place in the TARDIS. Opinions were starkly divided – some of the hosts said absolutely and some said absolutely not. One thing I really appreciate about Doctor Who is how it covers the wide range of loving relationships, from straight and gay and cross-species romance to family relationships and the often quirky relationships the Doctor has with their companions. Contrast the sparks of sexual energy between Rose and Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor to the filial love of the Thirteenth Doctor for her “fam”. (I’m still learning to be conversant in classic Who, but I’m working on it!) There’s a lot of love to love. 🙂

As always, I’d love to hear what you think about how I’ve connected the major arcana to this quote from series, and whether you’re enjoying this project. Next stop is the Chariot!