The Wheel of Fortune Tarot Card Meaning
Keywords: Cycles – Change – Opportunity
There’s a lot to glean from the esoteric symbolism in the Wheel of Fortune card. The four guardians in each corner of the card represent figures from astrology and Christian mysticism. They symbolize the four fixed signs of the zodiac: Aquarius, Leo, Scorpio, and Taurus. In Christian art, the four figures are known as a tetramorph. They represent the four divine laws and four Evangelists (Matthew as the angelic figure, Mark as the lion, Luke as the ox/bull, and John as the eagle). At the center of the card is a wheel divided into eighths representing the solstices and equinoxes. A sphinx perches above the wheel, hinting at the influence of a mysterious and ancient force. To the left of the wheel is a snake -most likely depicting Typhon the Egyptian god of chaos and storms. To the right of the wheel is a dog-headed figure suggesting Anubis, the Egyptian god of the underworld.
The Wheel of Fortune is the tenth card of the Major Arcana. It represents cycles, fate, and the mysterious forces of destiny.
Upright Meanings for the Wheel of Fortune Tarot Card
When the Wheel of Fortune card shows up in a reading, get ready for change. This could be a change of fortune for the better in an area of your life you’re trying to improve. In an upright position, this tends to indicate a period of good luck. Depending on whether you use reversals in a reading, or the context of the tarot spread, it can also signal a downturn of luck. If that’s the case, don’t freak out! This is part of a natural cycle of ups and downs that will repeat itself throughout everyone’s life. Fully enjoy the good times when they’re here. Have the patience and persistence to get through the inevitable bumps life throws your way. As the saying goes: the one thing that stays the same is that nothing stays the same.
Like change, this card can refer to the natural cycles of a season. Everything has a phase. A new job has a learning curve, healthy long-term relationships will have their lulls, and you will have shifting priorities throughout your life. All of this is natural. Keep in mind that changes are normal in relationships and your career. Remembering this can help you weather disruptions with more resiliency. The Wheel of Fortune can appear as a reminder to not fight against these natural rhythms. Rest when your body, mind, and spirit need it.
The appearance of the Wheel of Fortune can also point to a time of opportunity. You might find yourself having surprising offers fall into your lap. Take advantage of this while you can! These serendipitous gifts could open a faster path toward reaching your goals. Like the Chariot card, there’s an element of divine guidance in the Wheel of Fortune. It can appear when the results of taking action are becoming tangible.
Traditionally, this card is related to ideas of karma. As depicted in the Waite-Smith tarot, the presence of the Egyptian god Anubis suggests that past actions could be influencing your current state. It’s an idea worth considering. Sometimes it’s easy to connect the dots between actions and causality. But you have to examine whether this is true for your specific situation. Significant change can appear in our lives due to factors completely outside of our control or understanding.
Love and Relationships
If you’ve been seeking a relationship, the Wheel of Fortune’s appearance is a great indicator that something new is on the horizon.
Already established relationships represented by this card could be entering a new phase. In this case, context is important. You can find your relationship moving from blah to a more exciting phase -and vice versa. Wherever you are now, look out for a shake-up.
It can also suggest that a person from your past will reappear. This could be either old friends or exes. This is especially likely if this card appears in a reading during Mercury Retrograde – a time where people from your past seem to reappear out of nowhere. Look out for random encounters that lead to meeting a new potential partner or friend.
Career and Work
The Wheel of Fortune in a career reading can suggest new opportunities. You might receive a surprise promotion or new client. It can represent a new phase of your career or work.
Workplaces represented by the Wheel of Fortune are always varied and changing. These are the “no day is exactly the same” jobs. This is great if you enjoy a variety of tasks to tackle. But, be prepared to switch gears a lot. A downside could be dealing with perpetually moving targets and goals.
It can represent jobs and industries that are more unpredictable such as in finance, stock-trading, gambling, entrepreneurship, oil, gas, and mineral industry. It can also point to sectors that work with or relate to cycles and seasons such as creative entrepreneurship (artists, writers, actors, etc.), farming, or retail.
People and Personalities
Individuals represented by this card are always changing. They may have a career that’s subject to dramatic changes. They may find themselves falling into cycles of abundance and scarcity. Frequently they work for themselves in creative fields or industries with ups and downs. They are incredibly adaptive and resourceful. These are people who know how to roll with the punches.
Wheel of Fortune Reversed Tarot Card Meaning
Reversed Keywords: Stagnation – Challenge – Chaos
Reversed Meanings for the Wheel of Fortune Tarot Card
The Wheel of Fortune reversed can represent frustrations and stagnation. While you may want things to change, everything seems stuck. There can be a number of reasons why the ball isn’t rolling. First, the timing might be wrong. There could be projects, or metaphorical cycles, that need to be finished before you can move on. This is especially true if there’s a lesson to be learned before you can move on. Also, make sure that you are aware enough to recognize good opportunities for change when they’re presented. These include catching up on self-care and responsibilities so that you’ll be in a position to seize unexpected opportunities.
Conversely, the Wheel of Fortune can represent a situation that’s become out of control. You may feel wiped-out and desperate to catch a break. If this is the case, look at how you can drop unnecessary obligations. This can be as mundane as just saying no to extraneous projects. If you’re financially able to swing it, it can look like hiring someone to help you with cleaning house or other chores. It can call for some basic adulting skills like keeping track of important dates and tasks with a planner or getting on top of your financial situation. Often when this card appears as an out of control situation, it’s an issue around boundaries and spreading yourself too thin.
In general, the Wheel of Fortune reversed tends to represent the more negative aspects of its upright position. So, be prepared that your luck may be changing to less than ideal circumstances. Here’s the good news: it’s just part of a cycle. It’s only a temporary situation.
Reversed Love and Relationships
The Wheel of Fortune can indicate stagnation in a relationship. This is pretty normal in long-term relationships. Most everyone hits a dull patch now and again. Of course, deep dissatisfaction that underscores a relationship should be explored.
For new relationships, it can suggest a non-start. Both of you may be in totally different phases of life. Finding common ground or time could be difficult. It can also signal career or family obligations pulling you away from a relationship’s development.
If you’re feeling stuck searching for a new relationship, the Wheel of Fortune reversed can indicate poor timing. Be real with yourself: are you rushing into this? Reflect on whether there’s still an unresolved lesson to be learned from your past experiences. Look at your current situation through a practical lens: do you have the time right now to dedicate to a new relationship? Focus on yourself for a while before getting back into the game.
Reversed Career and Work
When the Wheel of Fortune is reversed, you could be working against your natural flow and talents. When it represents a downturn in business, it’s often due to bad timing or disorganization. It can represent a difficult job market as well. You can choose to wait until a better time or double down on your efforts to achieve your goal. For example, finding the perfect job during a recession is difficult. You could take a less than ideal position while you wait for the economy to improve. Or, you could invest in a recruiter or double down on your networking efforts to find that perfect fit. There are plenty of pros and cons to both choices. Remember that although the Wheel of Fortune reversed can indicate poor timing, you have many more choices than just waiting.
Workplaces represented by this card run the gamut between those stuck in the past or growing so fast that the organization is about to run off the rails. Either way, it can suggest delays on the horizon.
Reversed People and Personalities
Individuals represented by the Wheel of Fortune reversed are often dealing with issues around stagnation and organization. You may feel stuck. Make sure that you aren’t missing opportunities due to not feeling unprepared. Don’t be scared, jump on that metaphorical wheel! You can always get back on if you fall off. If you’re craving change, set your fear aside and act on your goals. It can also represent a personality that’s very stable and doesn’t take chances. Remember that not everything in life can be controlled. Loosen up! Keep some room open for surprises and mystery.
I am always ready for whatever comes next.
Some of My Favorite Examples
The Mesquite Tarot taps into the timeless motif of the moon cycles as the Wheel of Fortune. When viewed through this lens, the natural cycles of beginnings, action, and endings through lunar correspondences (see also: Lunar Magic). If you zoom out, you’ll see that everything follows a natural timing that repeats itself. There’s a season for everything. It’s a reminder that you’re exactly where you need to be right now.
Ostara Tarot deviates from the traditional Waite-Smith tarot (and the Marseille before it) with its Wheel of Fortune card. The three women in the image suggest the Norns of Norse mythology. The Norns were three giants who controlled an individual’s fate -even those of the gods! Interestingly, the Norn’s names corresponded to Old Norse phrases indicating time: Urdr (the past or “that which became”), Verdardi (the present or “that which is happening”) and Skuld (the future or “that which shall be”). Altogether, they’d do a great three card reading!
The Dreaming Way Tarot shows a winged figure weaving thread. In this deck, winged-figures seem to suggest either a higher power or divine guidance. It’s interesting that she’s working by herself with the spinning wheel. Similar to the Ostara Tarot, this could be another mythological allusion to the weaving of fate in Greek mythology by the Moerae (by the way: scholars think these female figures who controlled fate could be influenced by the prior Norse myths of the Norns). In another intriguing connection, the Fates of Greek mythology had Roman names that also corresponded with numbers. One of the three Fates was named Lachesis, “the drawer of lots” in Greek and called Decima in Roman meaning “Tenth” -the Wheel of Fortune being the 10th card in the tarot.
The Ethereal Visions Tarot has an intense Wheel of Fortune card! The traditional Waite-Smith tetramorphs can still be seen in the background. In the foreground is a mysterious, slightly ominous, looking shrouded figure holding a wheel of the year. The figure on the card reminds me of the Eternal Silence sculpture in Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery. Legend has it that staring into the eyes of the sculpture will allow the seeker to view their own death. Yikes, I know! That figure, in turn, was based on depictions of the Grim Reaper. This version of the Wheel of Fortune might be a good reminder that time is finite and always moving forward.