The Waite deck obviously went all out on this card and crammed as much occult symbolism into one little package as the mind can conceive. I personally think you’re pretty much always going in the wrong direction when you combine the new testament with Egyptian gods, but – hey! – to each his own.
The word Taro in the center of the wheel is a reversal of the word Rota, meaning wheel and it emphasizes that our journey through this life is very much like being affixed to a turning wheel. What goes up must inevitably come down and then, in the nature of the wheel, go back up again. This card is talking about the fact that change is inevitable. Nothing remains fixed or static in this world and you may be riding high one day and fall off your horse the next. You may be flat busted and then have a crazy idea that makes you a fortune. Life is always changing and we just pretend that it isn’t because it makes us more comfortable.
When the Wheel of Fortune shows up in a reading you know that a large change is about to happen. The card doesn’t speak to whether the change is good, bad, or indifferent: it’s just telling you that something big is about to happen and you should be prepared for it. When it happens it will probably feel like a bolt from the blue, a sudden stroke of good luck or a lightning flash of bad luck. Other cards in the reading may give clues as to the area of life in which you can expect the changes.
REVERSED: There’s not a huge difference between the upright and reversed card, except the reversed card shows more of an aspect of bad luck. It’s possible that the questioner is about to enter into a period of hard times or that he or she is simply going to have a string of bad luck. The main lesson for this card is to use the tough times to develop stronger character. Persevere and grow.
A Few Other Thoughts About The Wheel of Fortune:
The Wheel of Fortune represents a glitch in the fabric of their well-ordered universes which organized religions have been trying to ignore since their inception.
Which is to say . . . luck. Good luck, bad luck, and no luck.
If The Hierophant represents the well-oiled machinery of organized religion, the The Wheel of Fortune represents a huge monkey wrench that got thrown into the gears of that machinery. Organized religions teach – put simplistically – that if you’re a good person then good things will happen to you. And if you’re a bad person, then bad things will happen to you.
And, of course, that flies in the face of much of what we see around us. Why do kind, gentle people of faith sitting in a synagogue in Philadelphia get gunned down by a vile racist who is consumed with hate? Why do billionaires who celebrate avarice and greed live lives of luxury while the pious frequently don’t have enough food for their children?
It’s a conundrum that religions have been hard put to explain. In the christian religion we see the rather sickening tale of god and the devil deciding to turn Job into a human ping pong ball, kill his children and his livestock, and give him some sort of a leprous disease just to, “test his faith.”
The most logical explanation I’ve run across is the Buddhist idea of karma. We plant seeds of hate and violence in past lives and they may bloom into poisonous flowers hundreds of lifetimes later. Thus, bad things happening to us aren’t the random, crazy things that they seem to be but just natural consequences of our past actions.
That’s what I personally believe but, like all metaphysical assertions, it’s an unprovable hypothesis based on my experiences, thoughts, and feelings.
The Wheel of Fortune pushes aside all of the metaphysical hypotheses and organized religions and just says, “Look: shit happens. And good things happen.” Period. You don’t have to have an explanation for it to recognize that it happens.
The nicest, most successful person in the world can hit a string of really putrid luck and have everything she’s worked for destroyed. The biggest bastard in the world can hit a string of really good luck and end up in the White House.
It’s a principle of randomness that seems to be built into the universe. What goes up, must come down, and vice verse. Today’s rooster is tomorrow’s feather duster. Life moves in cycles and we have no choice but to move with them and do the best that we can. The Wheel of Fortune is a reminder of that.
Ultimately none of the castles that we build – or lose – on this earth plane are real. Figure out what things ARE real. Your values. Your heart. Your love for and from others. Those are things we create ourselves with the way that we live our lives. No change of fortune can give them to you and no change of fortune can take them away.