Tuesday, February 6, 2024

O Fortuna velut luna . . .

Yesterday I did some urban exploring and kept running into capital letter Rs in strange orientations -- upside down, backwards, "lazy," etc. Today, I saw someone wearing a hoodie with a huge blackletter R (normal orientation) and under it -- in Latin, but written as if it were German -- Fortis Fortuna adiuvat -- one of several Latin versions of the proverb "Fortune favors the bold."

This served as a reminder that I had been meaning to post about Fortuna ever since she came up in William Wright's January 26 post "Predators, Manticores, Dwarf-Lions, the Mary Celeste, Sirens, and Illusions." In that post, he discusses a movie called The Last Unicorn, which I have never seen, and a character in it called Mommy Fortuna. Fortuna is the Latin name of the goddess Tyche, ancient mother of all Tychonieviches, and I suppose I show myself her true son in having taken "The highway is for gamblers" as my personal motto.

I thought of the old medieval poem from Carmina Burana which begins O Fortuna velut luna statu variabilis -- "O Fortune, like the moon you are changeable." I posted about this back in 2019 as part of a series of posts on the development of the Wheel of Fortune Tarot card. The post even mentions "my august ancestress Tyche or Fortuna herself," tying in with the Mommy Fortuna theme. After holding forth on the philosophical meaning of the symbol, I end with a throwaway pun:

I had no deeper meaning in mind than that cats like to eat tuna, but Túna, as a geographical name from Tolkien's writings, where it is glossed "Hill City," has appeared several times on William Wright's blog, suggesting other possible meanings.

The idea of Fortuna as a single goddess who changes "like the moon" was synchronistically interesting to me. William's post with Mommy Fortuna was largely in response to my own January 25 post "An old pre-dator, chameleons, and le Demiurge." In that post, I discuss the Piers Anthony character Chameleon, who first came up on my blog as the mother of the character Dor. In the novel A Spell for Chameleon, we meet three very different women -- Wynn, Dee, and Fanchon -- who all turn out to be the same person, Chameleon, who undergoes extreme physical and psychological changes in a regular cycle following the phases of the moon. He personal lunar cycle only has three "phases," though.

In my January 5 post "Rapunzel and the True Song of Wandering Aengus," I recount a dream in which a woman going by the pseudonym Claire Delune (i.e. clair de lune, "moonlight") elicited from me a poem about the phases of the moon, but only three phases were mentioned:

From none to half, or half to all,
Or all to half, or half to none
Takes seven days, and this we call
A week, and now my tale is done.

It was the final line of this poem that first got me thinking about Chameleon, by way of her son Dor, as detailed in my January 7 post "My tail is dun."

On January 25, just after posting "An old pre-dator," I posted "Surround, confound," about a dream in which three women were singing. In comments there, William Wright suggested that, though they appeared human, the women in the dream might actually represent spiders. Then he added that they also reminded him of the Sirens.

That checks out. There were three Sirens according to Hesiod and many later writers (though not Homer, oddly), and as William notes there is something spider-like in the way the Sirens passively wait for victims to be drawn into their trap.

Then I thought of another female trio from myth: the Fates. One of them, Clotho, even has the spiderly task of spinning thread. Fate and fortune are clearly closely related concepts, which can be personified either as a single changeable woman (Fortuna) or as three different women (the Fates). Just as Wynn, Dee, and Fanchon in A Spell for Chameleon are aspects of a single woman, Chameleon; there is another Piers Anthony novel, With a Tangled Skein (which I have not read), in which Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos are aspects of a single Irishwoman.

Several things have conspired to make me think of a Tarot card in connection with all this -- and no, not the Wheel of Fortune, but Strength.

First, the hoodie I saw today used fortis instead of the more canonical audentes. The card called Strength in English is Fortezza in Italian and Force in French, both of which derive from fortis.

Second, the card features an orange-colored tame feline, like the "Oh, for tuna!" image.

Third, in my October 2020 post "Can the deck itself be prophetic?" I discuss how the structure of the Rider-Waite deck itself successfully predicts the outcomes of five U.S. presidential elections in a row. (It strongly predicted a Trump win in 2020, though, which failed to play out.) In connecting the eighth trump with the 2008 election, I identified the woman on the card with Barack Obama's mother. Her name was Dunham, which means "hill home" -- a close cousin to the "Hill City" of Túna

Fourth, when I ran an image search for fortune favors the bold, this was one of the results:

Fifth, wolves have been in the sync stream, which prompted regular commenter Debbie (Ra1119bee) to leave a comment on this morning's post "The pillar of blackness" about how wolves have been paranormally associated with her. The first time she told me that story was in response to an email I sent her back in October 2021, just a few days after we first "met" online. I had written (edited slightly for privacy):

The other day, as I often do when some new person enters my life, I asked, "So who is this Debbie lady?" and drew a single Tarot card from the Rider-Waite deck. I got Strength, which portrays a woman with a lion. As I have detailed elsewhere on my blog, this image likely descends from pictures of Samson killing a lion -- with Samson's long hair causing someone along the line to mistake him for a woman. The idea of a "female Samson" relates directly to your name: Samson was one of the 12 biblical Judges, and the only female Judge -- the only woman ever to play Samson's role -- was Deborah. Note also that when Samson returned to look at the body of the lion he had killed, "behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion" (Judges 14:8).

On August 19 . . . I had posted about the version of this card that appears in the music video for the Grateful Dead song "Ripple" (https://magicianstable.blogspot.com/2021/08/strength-in-grateful-dead-ripple-video.html). In the "Ripple" version, the woman is black and wears a crown of red flowers. . . . The "Ripple" version also removes the Samson imagery, replacing the lion with a wolf.

Debbie had replied with her wolf stories, explaining how the wolf version fit her even better than the lion. So reading those stories again today was yet another factor steering my attention to the Strength card.

Sixth, one of the things William Wright says about Mommy Fortuna in his post is that "she captures an old harmless lion, and has him appear as a fearsome Manticore."

1 comment:

Ra1119bee said...


Very Interesting indeed!!!!
Thank You.

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