The Wheel of Fortune

The Wheel of Fortune in the Tarot of Marseilles

Card description:

A wheel is supported by a stand so that it can turn freely. A handle is joined to the center of the wheel, but the handle extends out of view and the person who turns it remains unseen. Six spokes radiate from the center of the wheel.

Three creatures are distributed around the circumference of the wheel, one on the right, one on the left, and one on top. The creature on the right’s head is oriented towards heaven. The creature on the left’s head is oriented to the earth. The sphinx on the top is seated on a platform. It is crowned, holding a sword, and draped in a mantle of authority. The other two creatures cling desperately to the edges.

The sphinx is obviously in a better situation than the other two, but the platform on which the sphinx sits represents a false sense of security.

The invisible force in control of the wheel is fate. The wheel itself represents the earth, upon which all people struggle to make their way.

Card meaning: 

This card represents the forces of fate and destiny. No matter which way the wheel turns, the sphinx will tumble from his perch, losing his power and his crown. His mantle of authority, which appears to be hovering behind him, will remain but someone else will fill his spot.

The wheel could turn either way, advancing the efforts of the creature on the right, or reversing the decline of the creature on the left.

As the wheel turns, events end, and new opportunities are born. Everyone experiences the results of the changes to a greater or lesser degree, whether they are helped or hindered.

As fate turns the wheel, cycles come to an end, and it is up to everyone to understand the ramifications and adjust accordingly.


Be prepared for changes to your current situation, for good or ill. Things will not remain as they are. The forces of destiny are in play so you can’t completely avoid the fallout. The natural course of events will take place, seasons will turn, and you will move on. Nothing is a sure thing when fate’s hand is on the wheel. When you are on top of a situation, enjoy it. When you aren’t on top, console yourself with the idea that nothing lasts forever.

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