What do you think of when you picture the Wheel of Fortune? It might conjure up images of your ship coming in, a roulette wheel, or even a high-stakes gamble.
In the Major Arcana, The Wheel of Fortune represents all of this, and more.
About Wheel of Fortune
- Keywords: Changes for the better, good luck, fortune, fate
- Keywords (Reversed): Changes for the worse, bad luck, misfortune
- Yes or No: Yes
- Yes or No (Reversed): No
- Element: Fire
- Zodiac Sign: Capricorn
The Wheel of Fortune is one of those cards that typically draws heavily from alchemical, Hermetic, and Masonic symbolism. In the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, it’s depicted as an orange wheel supported on the back of a red Anubis-like figure.
A blue sphinx with a sword sits atop it, and there’s a yellow snake to the left. Anubis is an ancient Egyptian deity associated with death, burial, mummification, and the afterlife. The snake is Typhon, a monstrous serpent who once battled the Greek deity Zeus for rulership over the cosmos. The sphinx represents mysteries, hidden knowledge, and the need to keep secrets.
The Wheel itself is inscribed with letters and symbols. Read clockwise, the Latin letters read TARO. Counterclockwise, TORA. They can also be read as ROTA, which is the Latin word for “wheel.” Interspersed with the Latin letters are Hebrew letters, which spell YHWH, a name for God. Alchemical symbols for the elements sit in a smaller circle at the center of the wheel.
Four figures sit at each corner of the card: an angelic figure in the upper left, an eagle to the upper right, a winged bull to the lower left, and a winged lion to the lower right.
The four creatures are said to be representations of the four Evangelists from Christian lore. These are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, who are credited with creating the four gospels of the New Testament.
Altogether, the symbolism of the Wheel of Fortune combines to depict the concept of fate, destiny, and chance. The Wheel turns, and no one can control its turning. Humans are born, subjected to the mysteries of life, and die.
The Wheel is completely at the mercy of forces far beyond human reckoning. Where are you in this cosmic struggle? Are you on top of the wheel, or under it?
Wheel of Fortune Meaning (Upright)
In general, this card symbolizes change. As a Major Arcana card, it’s a signifier of big transitions — a rich man becoming poor, or an unlucky man becoming extremely lucky, for example. When it’s upright, these changes benefit you.
That said, even though the upright Wheel is a positive omen, it doesn’t mean that these changes will be pleasant or desired. It’s never easy to go through a major transition, even if it’s for your own good. Just trust that things are working out for the best.
Wheel of Fortune Meaning (Reversed)
When reversed, the Wheel of Fortune still indicates change. Unfortunately, while the upright Wheel represents changes for the better, the reversed Wheel is the opposite. You’re experiencing (or about to experience) a downturn in your luck.
There’s not much you can do about this, aside from choosing not to dwell on it. It’s a simple reality of life — some days, you’re the dog. Other days, you’re the fireplug.
As advice, the Wheel of Fortune reversed cautions you to let go of the illusion of control here. You’re going through a rough patch because that’s what happens sometimes. Remember that the Wheel is always turning, and what is down today may very well be up tomorrow.
See also: Check out alternate Tarot decks here.
Wheel of Fortune Meaning – Love & Relationships (Upright)
When the Wheel of Fortune appears upright in a love reading, its meaning is very similar to its general interpretation. Big changes are coming, and, while they may be uncomfortable, they’re for the best. Make whatever adjustments you need and know that things are working in your favor.
If you’re in a relationship, this could mean a deepening commitment, or a big change to how you and your partner do things. If you’re single, the conditions are right for you to meet a partner — potentially your soulmate.
Wheel of Fortune Meaning – Love & Relationships (Reversed)
When reversed, the Wheel of Fortune warns of a negative change in your love life. The flames might go out in your once-passionate relationship, or your search for a lover might need to take a back seat to other things.
Whatever the situation is, adapt to it as best as you can. This will pass, and you’ll be back on top someday.
Wheel of Fortune Meaning – Careers, Business & Money (Upright)
As in other contexts, the upright Wheel of Fortune indicates big positive changes on the way. This could be a promotion, a sudden breakthrough, or the decision to go into business for yourself.
Just remember, the lesson of the Wheel of Fortune is that states of luck and misfortune are often arbitrary and always temporary. Don’t step on anyone in your pursuit of success, because the time may come when you need to ask them for help. The people you pass on the way up are the same people you pass on the way back down.
In a money reading, the upright Wheel of Fortune indicates that you’re entering a period of prosperity and stability. Unforeseen financial trouble can arise at any time, though, even if it seems like things are going well right now. Use this opportunity to prepare for the time when you won’t be so fortunate.
Wheel of Fortune Meaning – Careers, Business & Money (Reversed)
When reversed, the Wheel of Fortune can signify unfavorable changes to your work life. A job that once fulfilled and challenged you might feel stagnant and uninspiring now, or your company might experience a lot of turnover, restructuring, or other disruptions. If you’re self-employed, expect setbacks.
Everyone goes through periods of feast and famine. If you’re in a rough patch, remember that it’s only temporary. The important thing is to use your periods of abundance to insulate yourself against the lean times.
This message holds true for money readings, as well. Chances are, you’re about to enter a period of scarcity. Treat this as a lesson in preparing some kind of financial safety net, even if it’s a small one.
Wheel of Fortune: Yes or No?
The Wheel of Fortune is a “Yes” in “Yes or No” readings. This card represents big changes, but, in this context, those changes are probably going to be a good thing. If you’re asking questions about improving your life, then this is a good omen to get. Things are most likely going to turn out well for you.
If the Wheel of Fortune is reversed, it indicates a change for the worse. This isn’t a very good time for your query to pan out the way you want it to. The answer is either “No,” or “Not yet.”
The Wheel of Fortune is a sobering reminder. Even when it’s a good omen of productivity, luck, and positivity, it’s impossible to forget that the Wheel is always turning.
When you make decisions today, always consider what they mean for your future. Any state of luck — good or bad — is always temporary, and humans don’t have as much control as we like to think.
See also: For more Tarot Cards and their meanings, check out our full list of Tarot Card Meanings.
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