10. The Wheel of Fortune

Weaving the tapestry of your life

Who is in charge of your life?

It’s a big question, and the answer is of course a complex jumble of things. You were born with and without certain privileges which will ever influence your life events, choices, opportunities. You were socialised in certain ways. You have encountered luck, both good and bad, you have made choices, some good, some bad. Your life is a rich tapestry that is forever being woven…and you are not the only person holding a needle and thread.

The wheel of life is turning, continually. Seasons change, political parties rise and fall, generations of youngsters grow up and birth new ones. Your luck is up, then it is down. A leader is elected, then later defeated. It is sunny…and then it is rainy. Is this stuff fate? Is there an explanation for absolutely everything?

The Wheel of Fortune points to themes of fate and destiny. Whether you believe in free will or feel that life is mapped out for us, we all sometimes experience that sense that something is ‘meant to be’. The Wheel of Fortune is an auspicious card for such moments, when things hang in the balance but you know in your gut that a certain outcome is ‘fated’ to happen.

Most importantly, though, it’s about taking responsibility. Though there are many different ways to interpret the Wheel of Fortune – most often extensions of the rather ambiguous “change” – the most empowering and thus my preferred approach is to see it as opening up a conversation about creating change. Grabbing the wheel of your life and doing what steering you can. As we’ve seen, there are many forces acting upon our lives, our communities, our world. Your job is to work out which bits you can do something about and focus your energy there.

It’s also about the interconnectedness of all things. The complex ecosystem within which we all belong. It can represent standing back and seeing this ecosystem as a narrative with many intersecting stories, a tapestry with many, many coloured threads, continually being woven. For example, think about stepping back and seeing a specific social issue in terms of a much wider history of oppression, or understanding a current challenge in your life in terms of all of the many influences that have created it.

Advice from the Wheel of Fortune

It is very easy, when we feel down on our luck, to focus on the stuff that’s out of our hands. To complain and wring our hands and feel helpless. The Wheel card is not merciless – it bears witness to this, and it acknowledges that there are forces acting upon you that you can’t do a thing about. The Wheel of Fortune advises you to look carefully at your situation and separate the things you can’t change from the things you can. And to focus your energy there. To take responsibility for your life, to put yourself in the driving seat, and bring about the changes you want to see.

It’s pointing you to a frustrating intersection between being in the flow (change happens, luck changes) and grabbing the wheel (because ultimately, you must do what you can).

The Wheel is a reminder of the temporal nature of all things, that nothing lasts forever. It’s humbling when things are good, reminding us that life is an ever-turning cycle of good times and hard. And it’s encouraging when things are tough, pointing out that this, too, will end. The Wheel does specifically represent this kind of change (particularly the upwards swing) so can be a simple card of good luck. If you feel that something is ‘meant to be’, it probably is!

Take its themes of interconnectivity to heart, too. Remember that you are part of a world wide web, that you belong, that your actions have consequences, that you are part of a wider narrative. Consider chaos theory, and the idea that every movement we make imparts energy and influence into this world. Be aware of the great power in your hands to create change, and to receive change at the hands of others. Understand your life as part of a greater narrative, within the mysteries of fate and destiny, as a small – yet significant – part of a greater whole.

Key words and concepts

  • Change is happening
  • A change in luck, especially good
  • Predictions and prophesies
  • Feeling like something is ‘destined’ to happen
  • A shift in power dynamics
  • Taking responsibility
  • Focusing on what you can do (rather than being frustrated by what you can’t change)
  • All things are interconnected
  • Seeing the bigger picture

Some common symbols

In traditional decks, this card bears a whole heap of mythical symbols, representing the four elements of earth, air, fire and water, and the four ‘fixed’ signs of the zodiac (and thus the entire zodiac). For an exploration of these, I recommend Rachel Pollack’s Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom.

The most important symbol here is of course a wheel – or other rotary symbol – representing the ever-turning nature of life.