The Wheel of Fortune

Cycles of the Elemental

"All go, all return, the wheel of life ever turns.  All die, all flourish again, the year of existence runs eternally.  All perish, all live again, the same house of existence is I ever building.  All separate, all meet again, the ring of existence is ever true to itself.  Existence begins at every moment.  Round each "here" rolls "there."  The middle is everywhere.  The way of eternity is a curve."
-P. D. Ouspensky, The Symbolism of the Tarot, 1913

Grace Duong, Mystic Mondays Tarot, United States, 2019
A colorful deck with a minimalist design was created as a tool for encouraging meditation and self-exploration.

The Wheel of Fortune is the tenth key to the Major Arcana in Tarot.  The Element of the Wheel of Fortune is Fire and the Planet is Jupiter.

Qualities of the Wheel of Fortune are Change, Cycles, and Eternal Return.  Alternate names for the Wheel of Fortune are Time, Fortune, Fate, Change, and Rota.  Symbols are Angels, Beasts, Anubis, Sphinx, and The Torah

In German the Wheel of Fortune is called Das Rad des Lebens, Das Schicksalsrad, and Das Glucksrad.  In French, La Roue de Fortune.  And in Italian, La Ruota, Rota di Fortuna, Ruota della Fortuna, La Fortuna.


The Wheel of Fortune is rife with symbols, each with its own distinct meaning.  At the card's center is the wheel itself, covered with esoteric iconography.  At each of the card's corners there is often an eagle, bull, lion and angel, each representing a sign of the zodiac:  Scorpio, Taurus, Leo, and Aquarius, respectively.  They each hold the Torah.  In the Christian interpretations of Tarot, these creatures are winged, representing the four biblical evangelists.  The tetragrammaton, represented by the four Hebrey letters YHVH (Yod Heh Vau Heh), the unpronounceable name of God, are inscribed on the wheel's face.  There is often also the appearance of the letters T O R A, thought to be a version of the word Torah, meaning "law," or Tarot or Rota (Latin for "wheel").  On the middle of the wheel are the alchemical symbols for mercury, sulfur, water, and salt, the building blocks of life, as well as the four elements, each representing formative power.  To the left of the wheel is a descending snake, which also represents the life force plunging into the material world.  On the ride side rises Anubis, the Egyptian God of the dead, who welcomes souls to the underworld.  And finally, at the very top of the wheel sits the Sphinx, representing knowledge and strength.  The placement of each creature and element on the wheel is ever changing; they are rotating forever, in a constant cycle.  As one comes up, the other goes down.  


Elemental cycles govern the turn of the Wheel, just as they dictate the changes of the seasons, the evolutionary turning of phases of life.  where the Wheel stops is as random as chance.  Whether riding high atop its spokes or crushed under the Wheel's bottom, one is reminded that all transformation is continual.  There is both comfort and warning in the certainty that the Wheel will always be turning.  Change is constant.  The Wheel asks that we be open to synchronicity, that we stay steady, even with the knowledge that most is beyond our control.  Adapt.  Be flexible.  The center will be found once again.

Oswald Wirth, Oswald Wirth Tarot, France/Switzerland, 1977
Based on historical research and inspired by the original illustrations of Swiss occultist Oswald Wirth in 1889, these Major Arcana cards are rare and limited edition.