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The Wheel of Fortune

A description and interpretation of the role of The Wheel of Fortune in the Tarot

In a nutshell...


  • chance

  • instability


General overview

The tenth major arcana of the Tarot, the Wheel of Fortune is immediately intriguing because of the complexity of its visual symbolism. The card shows three animals perched on a rotating wheel, which itself is the symbol of the constant march of life and destiny. At the top of this wheel is a blue sphinx with a yellow crown and red wings. Comfortably seated on a platform, he seems to be the only character able to activate the movement of the wheel. The animal on the right is located on the left side of the device and makes an upward movement. Yellow in color, its silhouette resembles a dog, often associated with the idea of death, as with Anubis, for example. The third animal is easier to identify. This is undoubtedly a small flesh-colored monkey. It is located on the right of the wheel and is being pushed down. In the popular imagination, this animal is often associated with ideas of chance, unpredictability and capriciousness.

Like a circle, the wheel conveys an image of infinity. Since it has no beginning or end, it clearly symbolizes the universality of cycles, just like summer always comes after the spring and winter after the fall. The wheel represents time but it also occupies space, as suggested by the 6 spokes. These remind us of the six main directions in which we are likely to go, namely north, south, east, west, zenith and nadir. It is important to note that the hub of the wheel is red, the color of action. It is from this point that the movement of the wheel starts. The crank is white. Does this mean that you need to be initiated to operate it? In any case, note that no one is there to turn it on, although someone must have started it at some point... Everyone is free to interpret this mystery according to their beliefs and education.

A small change can make a big difference.


  • from an emotional viewpoint

    In the romantic sphere, the Wheel of Fortune most often announces the arrival of a major change, which may be beneficial or negative depending on the cards surrounding the arcana. Whether it's a new romance or a breakup, the card encourages the seeker to take a step back. Life being cyclical by nature, happiness always comes after difficult times and vice versa. By definition, therefore, new opportunities will arise in the future.

  • from a career viewpoint

    The Wheel of Fortune is very often associated with ideas of transition, renewal and evolution. In the professional field, this could mean that the time is right for anyone wishing to change jobs or assume new responsibilities. In this case, the arcana announces the emergence of unexpected opportunities, a professional change, or even a pay increase.

  • from a life path viewpoint

    What is the main teaching of the Wheel of Fortune? That a person's life is always changing. New opportunities for change emerge regularly, it's simply a matter of learning to seize them without doubting your ability to assume new responsibilities. Having the courage to take new paths is above all about being able to open yourself up to life so you can get even closer to the ideals that you believe in.

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    Its influence

    • short-term

      In the short term, the Wheel of Fortune is naturally consistent with the notion of evolution. It often indicates that a marked change is about to disrupt the course of your destiny. It will be a question of accepting it with open arms, since no one can fight against life's vagaries. Don't be afraid and learn to take advantage of it so you can evolve serenely.

    • long-term

      In the long run, the Wheel of Fortune reminds you of the randomness of human life. Negative events follow good news and so on.... It is essential to accept this reality so you can move calmly along your life path, active and happy but detached.

    Full interpretation

    Interpretation of The Wheel of Fortune upright

    The Wheel of Fortune card is not the easiest to understand, its interpretation greatly depending on the other cards that surround it. Remember, however, that this arcana is always associated with the idea of movement and evolution. While some situations might seem perfectly stable at first sight, everything carries the possibility of change. The first lesson of the Wheel of Fortune will therefore be to accept that nothing is eternal. This awareness will enable the seeker to take a step back from the situation they are traversing, be it positive or negative, and adopt a more serene attitude towards life's events. These marvelous words by Rudyard Kipling, from the poem "If" really echo the symbolism of the Wheel of Fortune:

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss; [….]

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much; [….]

    You'll be a man my son!

    Since it implies a form of letting go, the Wheel of Fortune offers the seeker a unique chance to evolve quickly by seizing the opportunities that lie ahead. It is not a question of acting on principle, but of accepting the random nature of life, so as not to be afraid of change. If they are prepared to tolerate bends on their life path more often, the seeker will have greater control over their destiny and become master of their life.

    Interpretation of The Wheel of Fortune reversed

    When drawn upside down, the Wheel of Fortune indicates the possibility of adverse situational results. Unpleasant surprises could cast doubt on some of the foundations on which the seeker's life is constructed. The path of life is full of setbacks and the hazards are numerous. However, it's pointless to fight against the cosmic forces that turn the wheel. The best solution to be philosophical in the face of your setbacks. Enjoy life for what it is, that is, always in flux, often happy, sometimes merciless.

    A reversed Wheel of Fortune may also indicate that the seeker refuses to change. In that case the chances of getting locked into a non-constructive atmosphere are high, not good for the seeker's own well-being or for those around them. While it is natural to find change difficult, it is also essential to learn to recognize its virtues.