(The above image is a copy of The Wheel of Fortune card in a standard Rider-Waite Tarot deck. The 7 symbols pointed out above are explained below.)
Better than the game show, The Wheel of Fortune Tarot card illustrates the ups and downs of life. While previous cards represented what we can control in life, The Wheel of Fortune card represents what we can't control. Life is constantly moving and we must move with it. Instead of enacting your will, open up your mind to the possibilities beyond your will.
For more information about The Wheel of Fortune card, check out A. E. Waite’s description here.
Point 1 – SPHINX
On top of the wheel sits a sphinx carrying a sword. Like the sphinxes in The Chariot card, the sphinx here represents the mystery of life. Part human and part animal, the sphinx illustrates the unity in division. By carrying a sword, the sphinx establishes itself as the authority leader on the card.
Point 2 – SNAKE
On the left side of the wheel, there is a snake falling down. This snake is the Egyptian god Seth or Typhon. He is the god of evil and represents the negative life force we experience.
Point 3 – ANUBIS
On the right of the wheel, there is jackal rising up. This jackal is the Egyptian god Anubis. He is the god that accompanies dead souls back to life through reincarnation. Anubis represents the positive life force we experience. Together, Seth and Anubis balance each other out, resulting in the equilibrium illustrated by the sphinx.
Point 4 – LATIN CHARACTERS
On the wheel, there is inscribed four Latin characters, T–O–R–A. These letters bare a few connotations. They could stand for Torah, or the Hebrew law. This would be a reiteration of the scroll found in The High Priestess card. They could also stand for the Latin word Rota, which means wheel, or they could simply stand for Tarot. The multiple interpretations relate to the multiple ways one could view Tarot.
Point 5 – HEBREW CHARACTERS
On the wheel, there is inscribed four Hebrew characters, Y–H–V–H. This is the Hebrew tetragrammaton or the unutterable name of God. The mystery and unutterable nature of the name feeds into the identity of the sphinx and the overall wonder of Tarot.
Point 6 – ALCHEMICAL CHARACTERS
On the wheel, there is inscribed four alchemical characters, Mercury, Sulfur, Water, and Salt. These four elements are all of creation. They are the four suits that The Magician uses to create anything at will. They are everything within the material world.
Point 7 – BEASTS IN THE FOUR CORNERS
The four beasts in the corners can either represent four zodiac signs (Aquarius, Scorpio, Leo, and Taurus) or the four evangelists (Luke, Mark, John, and Matthew). In any case, they are all reading the book of life and will spread its message of mystery to the four corners of the world.
An Upright Wheel of Fortune reminds us of life’s karma. Life is constantly moving from bad luck to good luck. If you have been going through a tough time lately, remember that things balance out in the end. If you have been going through a prosperous time lately, remember to be humble for it might slip away eventually. The Wheel of Fortune is a reminder that we do not control things in life, we experience them. Open up your mind and take what life gives you with equal gratitude.
A Reverse Wheel of Fortune may caution that we are taking too much control in life. As the story of Icarus reminds us, there is folly in ambition. A lack of recognition of life’s fluidity may lead to arrogant mistakes and karmic retribution. Take a moment to humble yourself before the Wheel and to experience life as it is.
For more Tarot Card Meanings, check out our blog here.
About the author: John Taylor is a content writer and freelancer through the company Upwork.com. You may view his freelancing profile here. He has a B. A. in English, with a specialty in technical writing, from Texas A&M University and a M. A. in English from the University of Glasgow. You may view his previous articles about Tarot here and his LinkedIn profile here.