The Wheel of Fortune is one of the most intriguing cards in the Major Arcana as it simultaneously represents boundless fortune and luck as well as a precipitous fall from grace.
The origin of the imagery of the Wheel can be traced back to the Medieval Age where a rotating wheel was used, justly or not, to torture prisoners deemed culpable of various indiscretions. As the wheel was turned, and depending on position, the victim experienced either relief or pain, so these too reflect a quality of this card.
Quite simply put, one does not know when the Wheel will turn and what it will bring.
The letters spelling ROTA on the card alludes to two things: quite literally, in Latin, it means wheel, but it is also reflective of a style of esoteric talismans known as Abramelin Squares. On these talismans ROTA forms part of a “magical seal” reputed to bestow wealth and luck upon the bearer.
Astrologically speaking this card is allied with Jupiter, also known as the “Greater Benefic”, which indicates an ability to grant luck and happiness. What is less commonly known is that Jupiter also presides over education and wisdom. This is reflected in the form of the four heavenly animals shown on the card. They all have books placed in front of them and they are depicted in the primary colour yellow (a foundational colour) which is reflective of their naivety and the fact that they are in a state of ignorance but are in the process of learning. They lack complexity and so they represent matter in its most crude form like unmoulded clay. In this state, the four animals have not yet become what they are capable of and they must weather the tribulations on their journey to become the fully coloured and nuanced animals shown in the World Card.
The four animals themselves (sometimes referred to as Hayyot) represent the four corners of the heavens, the four Royal Stars of Persia, and archangels which reign over them. The eagle represents Archangel Uriel and the fixed Star Antares. In various cultures Antares has often been represented by an eagle, a nod to the intelligence that these animals are reputed to possess, given that they fly high and not the most minute detail escapes their attention. The lion represents the fixed star Regulus and the Archangel Raphael, symbolising magnanimity, healing, joy, and kindness. The bull is allied with the Archangel Michael as well as the fixed star Aldebaran ( Alpha Tauri) and its qualities are protection, determination, strength and wealth. The only fixed star not depicted as an animal, but shown in angelic garb as Archangel Gabriel, is Fomalhaut (the mouth of the fish). Gabriel governs fertility and creativity.
The presence of these four heavenly forces, shown in a state of nascence, not only informs the querent that they are about to be guided on a journey of development and adventure but also that they are being guided by the benevolent hands of these celestial influences who also impart their individual strengths to them.
The card is numbered 10 and melds the powers of the digits 1 and 0. 1 represents initiative, mastery, growth and self actualisation whereas the number 0 signifies a complete rebirth and leap into the unknown.
Look for sudden job opportunities, the appearance of a study opportunity, foreign travel, and possibly a relationship leading to marriage. The converse is true if the Wheel of Fortune is followed or “crossed” by a negative card.
Timing: The timing on this card is largely dependent on its position in a spread, but otherwise, as a solitary timing card, look to the periods governing Pisces and Sagittarius.
Major Arcana: Card 10
Planetary Correspondence: Jupiter
Zodiac Correspondence: Sagittarius and Pisces
Key words: Inexorable change, fatalism, fortune smiles on you, sudden deterioration, exciting new life path, journey of discovery