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The Wheel of Fortune Card in Tarot and How to Read It

Andrea has a background in astrology, Myers Briggs, and pop culture, with expertise in relationships and dating.

The Wheel of Fortune is completely random. You can't stop the flow of it. However, it is also the Wheel of Karma. The positive you put into the universe will come back to you.

The Wheel of Fortune is completely random. You can't stop the flow of it. However, it is also the Wheel of Karma. The positive you put into the universe will come back to you.

Wheel of Fortune, a Trump Card in the Major Arcana

The Wheel of Fortune card is the tenth trump in the Major Arcana. The card suggests a change in the querent's life. A person could go from rags to riches or vice versa.

  • A Tarot deck is made up of 78 cards.
  • The deck is split up into the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana.
  • There are 22 cards in the Major Arcana. The cards deal with significant events and archetypes that most people will encounter at some point in their lives.
  • The Minor Arcana has 56 cards. It contains cards that deal with the four suits. These cards have to do with personal growth.

Prior to the 17th century, the trumps were part of a special card deck used for gaming and gambling. The trumps originally had little mystical importance. The occult significance emerged in the 18th century when Antoine Court de Gébelin published Le Monde Primitif. He was a former Protestant pastor.

An essay in his work detailed the practice of cartomancy. About two years later, the fortune-teller Etteilla published a technique for how to read Tarot. These events set the groundwork for Tarot card readers.

Wheel of Fortune: Influences on the Card

The card has been remodeled several times since its creation in the 15th century. It is based off Rota Fortunae, a symbol of the whimsical nature of Fate.

The wheel belongs to the goddess Fortuna. She spins it at random. Some will suffer great misfortune while others gain a sizable surplus.

Rota Fortunae was popularized in the Middle Ages. The image appeared in manuscripts of the Consolation of Philosophy.

Depictions of Fortuna showed her blindfolded. She would turn a large wheel, generally used in watermills. The watermills belonged to powerful people, kings and queens.

The Zodiac Cycle

The "Wheel of Fortune" refers to the zodiac cycle. The concept was first invented in Babylon and later developed by the Ancient Greeks.

In some Roman and Greek depictions, the wheel isn't two-dimensional but is a three-dimensional sphere. The Wheel of Fortune then becomes a metaphor for the world.

Early Astronomy

In the Ptolemaic perception of the universe, the zodiac is constantly turning and has an effect on the world's fate. Early astronomers often saw the celestial bodies connected in series of circles and wheels.

2nd century astronomer Vettius Valens wrote:

"There are many wheels, most moving from west to east, but some move from east to west. Seven wheels, each hold one heavenly object, the first holds the moon, then the eighth holds all the stars that we see, and the ninth wheel, the wheel of fortunes, moves from east to west, and includes each of the 12 signs of fortune, the 12 signs of the zodiac."

These early astronomers were not entirely wrong. There is something to be said of the roundness of planets and stars. Much of what is moving in the universe is circulating, orbiting, and spiraling.

Wheel of Fortune in the Middle Ages

Middle Ages writers often looked to the Wheel of Fortune to concentrate on tragic events. The symbol was used to remind people of the transience of earthly things.

Fortune's Wheel has spun everyone something dreadful and something good. There is always something we're neglecting, and there will always be something we need to secure passage to heaven.

Geoffrey Chaucer used the Wheel of Fortune in his works. It formed the central motif for the Monk's Tale. It recounts the stories of greatness brought low throughout history: Lucifer, Adam, Samson, Hercules, Nero, Alexander the Great, and Julius of Caesar.

Fortune's Wheel appears in medieval art from manuscripts to the great Rose windows in cathedrals.

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The Wheel is often depicted with four shelves, or stages of life with four human figures.

  • The left regnabo: "I shall reign"
  • The top regnabo: "I reign"
  • The right regnabo: "I have reigned"
  • The bottom regnabo: "I am without a kingdom"

Dante included the Wheel in the Inferno. Virgil explains to him the purpose of the Wheel of Fortune as they travel to the Fourth Circle of Hell. The turning of the Wheel results in all of the events, both good and bad that occur on Earth.

The Wheel of Fortune doles out whatever it desires. It brings you fortune or misfortune.

The Wheel of Fortune doles out whatever it desires. It brings you fortune or misfortune.

Card Alignments


Change, fortune, surplus, changes, excitement, destiny, luck, opportunity, randomness, new sense of self, transitions, positive outcome, prepared for Fates, winning, in motion, success, felicity.


Bad luck, disappointment, misfortune, tragedy, mishap, resistance to change, breaking cycles, counter-intuitive, series of unfortunate circumstances, unfavorable role reversal.

Card Description

The Wheel of Fortune usually appears as a six or eight spoked wheel. It is often attended by a human or sphinx-like creature wearing an Egyptian headdress. The individual is usually blindfolded.

Other people are often in the card. They sit or ride on the Wheel while others fall off it.

The Wheel is sometimes inscribed with lettering. The words "TARO" or "TORA" can be found along the spokes. Sometimes the word "ROTA" is used; it's the Latin word for Wheel.

  • TARO could refer to Tarot.
  • TORA could refer to Torah.

The Wheel is generally inscribed with symbols representing the four elements: fire, earth, air, and water. The emblems are seen in other cards, like the Magician's table in the Magician card.

  • Wand = Fire
  • Coin / Pentacle = Earth
  • Sword = Air
  • Cup = Water

The card also has four winged creatures, which are considered the four living creatures. These are the fixed signs in astrology: the Lion for Leo, the Ox for Taurus, the Angel for Aquarius, and the Eagle for Scorpio.

Hebrew letters on the card translate to YHWH, which is Herbew for Yahweh, meaning God.

The Wheel of Fortune card in Tarot has been around since the 15th century. It is loaded with religious symbolism from astrology, Christianity, and the ancients.

The Wheel of Fortune card in Tarot has been around since the 15th century. It is loaded with religious symbolism from astrology, Christianity, and the ancients.


The Wheel of Fortune is one of the most heavy handed cards in Tarot. It is packed to the brim with symbols. The card connects to a great deal of mythology.

Hebrew Letters: "Yod Heh Vau Heh" is the unpronounceable named of God. The Wheel of Fortune is the hand of God. Its judgment is final. It changes the course of your life.

God is benevolent and is seeking the best circumstances for you despite the gulf between the finite (us) and the infinite (him). The gulf between our conscious and subconscious is a metaphor for the dissonance we have with God.

  • God may represent an entity and a place. God is sometimes an interchangeable word for heaven. God could refer to an advanced alien society that's reached the highest point of civilization.
  • God isn't malevolent. Humans project malevolent qualities onto God because we don't understand what exactly is, and isn't, God.

It's not so much whether God exists or not. The question is: what exactly is God?

  1. Is it a super intelligent force in physics?
  2. Is God an eternal essence that never had a beginning?
  3. Is it the personification of the Universe?
  4. Is it the consciousness behind life?

Alchemical Symbols: the middle wheel has the classic alchemy symbols for sulfur, water, and salt. These are considered the building blocks of life and the four elements. Sulfur, water, and salt represent formative power.

Outer Circle: a snake, the Egyptian god Typhon (the god of evil) descends on the left side. The snake represents life force plunging into the material world.

On the right side: Anubis (the god of the dead). Anubis welcomes souls to the underworld. He is of a chthonic nature. A sphinx sits at the top of the wheel. The sphinx represents knowledge and strength.

Four Winged Creatures: the mysterious creatures mentioned in the Bible. They're also sometimes called the four faces of God.

In Revelation 4:6–8, four living beings are seen. They appear as a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle. This is similar to what appears in Ezekiel. In Revelation, they have six wings, whereas Ezekiel's four living creatures are described as only having four.

Their wings offer stability while in movement. Each holds the Torah, representing wisdom.

The Wheel of Fortune is rolled blind. It has no bias. It gives you life or death.

The Wheel of Fortune is rolled blind. It has no bias. It gives you life or death.

Upright Wheel of Fortune

The Wheel of Fortune reminds you that you're not in control of everything. A little bit of randomness is always at play. If you're going through a difficult time, rest assured it will get better. Have patience, be still, and don't sweat the small stuff.

Good luck and good fortune will come to those who are ready and open to it. Take chances, take risks, and see what happens. Allow yourself to be surprised.

It's important to cherish the good times because you really don't know what's around the corner.

If you have done well to prepare your conscious and subconscious minds then you won't be as caught off guard by randomness, and you'll have tempered your expectations. In a flash, everything can change.

The Wheel of Karma

The Wheel of Fortune is also known as the Wheel of Karma. It reminds you that what goes around comes around. (Now is the perfect time to look up that old Justin Timberlake music video and reflect on it.)

  • Be kind to those around you. Kindness is an investment. It will come back to you.
  • Making snide and rude remarks will come back to bite you. Be nasty and mean and people will be mean and nasty to you.
  • If you want happiness and abundance then you should send out positive vibes.
  • What you send into the Universe is what you will get back.

The Wheel of Fortune card encourages you to be optimistic, to have faith, and know that the Universe will take care of the rest.

  • Meditation and visualization can reinforce your intention to bring good into the world.
  • Good fortune and prosperity are possible for you.
  • The Wheel of Fortune card is a promise that good things come to those who promise to grow and expand.
  • Keep your mind open to all kinds of synchronicities and signs from the Universe.
  • Fate and destiny are already underway. Miracles are happening in the present to rectify the crises of the cosmos.

The Wheel of Fortune encourages you to help others. Seek guidance from both the physical and spiritual realm. Consider what are your guides.

You Can't Stop the Wheel

You need to let go of control in order to trust the Wheel of Fortune. Factors outside of you are at work. There is always an element of randomness.

It is near impossible to stop the course of the Wheel. You have to let it flow and give to you accordingly. The best you can do: put in positive influence for a better spin at karma.

Develop Your Intuition

Opportunities you could never imagine are on the way. You may have to go into unexpected or unfamiliar territory. The more you rely on your intuition the more you will understand how the Universe works. You'll find your spiritual self in there. The Universe is ready to guide you.

Reversed Wheel of Fortune

Your good luck may be taking a turn for the worst. You may experience unexpected change or negative forces could be at play.

You could do nothing and hope that things will get better or take your chances and see if you can make things better.

Now is the time to take control of your destiny. The forces of fate are going backwards. You're in a Mercury retrograde.

When Things Go Backward, Don't Make Impulsive Moves

It's generally better to rest when you're in backwards motion. When you try to go forward and get a little bit of gain, you can actually go further backwards. You'll accelerate the backwards motion.

  • Rest is one of the most important parts of life. You have to know when to act and be on display and when to listen and draw to your bed.
  • There is a time for yin and there is a time for yang.

First, You Must Understand the Present Situation

If you want to change your destiny, you must first accept where you are in the present. Even when you think everything is out of control, there is always something you can do. You likely haven't considered certain possibilities or advantages that you have.

Now is the time to learn from your mistakes, so you don't repeat them again.

The reversed Wheel of Fortune could indicate that you're resistant to change and this is creating more problems for you than solutions. When you're resistant to change you become sedentary, and when you become sedentary you put unnecessary pressure on your body.

Change is inevitable. You will have a much better experience with reality if you go with the flow.

Breaking Free

As for a positive interpretation, the reversed Wheel of Fortune could indicate you might be breaking free of a negative cycle. You might be the one to end generational trauma.

In order to make progress, you must account for what your repetitive actions have done. You can understand what you've caused and what you've put into the Wheel of Karma if you spend time in introspection.

  • It's better to spend time in introspection than the alternative: meeting with your karma at rock bottom.
  • Eventually, you will have to see what is no longer serving your best interest.
  • Rock bottom is never easy, it will come for those who refuse introspection. It will come with the Devil and the Tower.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2021 Andrea Lawrence

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