Card by Card – The Wheel of Fortune

Wheel of Fortune Aquatic Tarot

The Wheel of Fortune holds the position of card 10 in the Major Arcana.  But, what’s it all about?  What does it mean when you receive the Wheel of Fortune as your COTD (card of the day) or when it turns up in a spread?

The Aquatic Tarot (on the left) is close to the same imagery found on a Rider-Waite-Smith Wheel of Fortune, so lets start by taking a look at what Rachel Pollack has to say on the subject in “Tarot Wisdom” (Llewellyn Publishing 2009).


“What a rich card, what powerful images.  And we can delve into these deeper truths when the card comes up in readings.  And yet, the primary sense that often emerges is simple-the Wheel turns, life changes, and something new will emerge.  Dame Fortune takes hold of that crank and gives it a turn.  We can take heart that tradition seems to assume the Wheel turns for the better.  Increased fortune, unexpected good luck. “


Anna K Tarot Wheel of Fortune

One of my very favorite Wheel cards is from the AnnaK Tarot (pictured above) where you can see “Dame Fortune” with her hand on the crank giving the wheel a turn.  Someone has fallen on the down turn, while another is climbing up on the up turn, and two others are happy to have landed at the top.  Author and artist Anna Klaffinger writes:  “The Wheel of Fortune tells us to learn to deal with the insecurities and necessities, the ups and downs of life in an active and positive way.  If we don’t learn to productively deal with the fateful and the coincidental, we will soon give up, develop fatalistic ideas and live in constant fear.”

This next set come from the Robin Wood Tarot by Robin Wood, a RWS clone and The Incidental Tarot  by Holly DeFount, which is a little less traditional.

Wheel of Fortune Robin Wood Tarot - Triskelion The Incidental TarotThe Robin Wood Wheel clearly shows the scope of human emotions ranging from joy to despair.  The Triskelion, although visually apart from a more traditional wheel, retains the traditional meanings:  (from the abbreviated key) Turnings of Fate.  A card of great positivity, signifying good fortune, completion, and gratification. 

The next group is from the Golden Tarot (l) and The Gaian Tarot (r).

Wheel of Fortune Golden Tarot - The Wheel The Gaian Tarot

In The Golden Tarot we see a very humble scene of a family sharing space with farm animals.  At first you might think they are quite unfortunate, but they do have a roof over their heads, food to eat, and each other.   They may feel quite fortunate indeed.  From the companion book:  “What you lose on the swing you’ll gain on the roundabout.  Life will always send us challenges and trials to overcome-you cannot have good without bad, or light without darkness.  Do not dwell on misfortunes, but look instead to future joys.” ~Kat Black

The Wheel from The Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert, shows the cycles of nature represented by four trees,  rooted in the fiery core of the earth,  which show the four seasons, and eight phases of the moon, which correspond to the eight holy days of the solar year.  Joanna writes, “If things seem chaotic and disorderly in your life, center yourself on the still point of the turning wheel.  Constant change is the nature of all that is.  When you are centered, you will find that you can trust the turning cycles of change.”

The last set we are going to look at today are from The Gilded Tarot Royale by Ciro Marchetti and The Mary-El Tarot by Marie White.

The Wheel of Fortune- Gilded Tarot Royale and the Mary-El Tarot

The Gilded Tarot Royale shows a man-made mechanical device that speaks to the balance of fate and human intervention that dance together in determining our successes and failures, and indeed how we perceive and react to both.  “The mechanical devices I incorporated into various cards (and my non-tarot work) are visual metaphors of that duality.  In this Gilded Royale wheel, its man-made structure represents, by way of its construction, a human involvement, a factor to be considered in the cause and effect cycles of fortune.”  ~Ciro Marchetti

Marie White describes her Wheel of Fortune as Divine Chaos“The Wheel of Fortune is the ever changing nature of life, and perfection in struggle.   Could there be a more simple, human or profound symbol than the wheel?   Fortuna is depicted in the card, gives and takes away; both beautiful and cruel, she is completely impartial to our bliss or suffering and lies above it.  Therein lies her duality.  She is the whole of mother nature, and is the ever-changing force of the fortunes and fate of men.  She unfolds as she will with no regard for us.”

Some added keywords:  Change, chaos, unpredictability, change of fortunes.  Good luck.

Here we have looked at eight separate Wheel of Fortune cards from different perspectives, both traditional and non-traditional.  But, I think you will agree that there is a common thread that can be applied to any Wheel card you may run into.

Do you have a different idea on this card when you see it turn up?  Feel free to share your ideas and keywords you use when The Wheel of Fortune shows up for you or a client.

Until next time, Happy Tarot’ing and May Your Journey be an Enchanted one.

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