The Wheel of Fortune (X) Upright

(Card Descriptions Based On Original Rider-Waite Colors – Still Under US Games Inc. Copyright)



Almost half way through the journey in the Major Arcana, The Fool encounters The Wheel of Fortune. In this card we see a revolving wheel which represents the wheel of life. The Wheel is in constant motion. In each corner of the Card we see Four Winged Creatures sitting upon clouds. The creatures are yellow in colour and each appear to be reading from a book.

These creatures represent the Four Elements in the Tarot that we encountered in the Minor Arcana. The Winged Angel represents Air, the Eagle represents Water, The Winged Bull represents Earth and the Winged Lion represents Fire. These figures symbolise the four fixed signs of the Zodiac; Aquarius, Scorpio, Taurus and Leo. The books they read contain knowledge about not only their own Element but also the other Three.

Their yellow colour suggests that they are mentally working very hard to assimilate this information. They will have absorbed much knowledge at this stage and will be analsying its meaning and how it should be applied to life. However, at this point of the journey they would not yet be qualified or versed enough on each Element to have full understanding or appreciation their power.  However, they do now understand that to be complete, to be whole and fulfilled within and without they must find the correct balance and understanding of not just their own Element but also of each others. Only then will true enlightenment come.

These Winged Figures appear once more in the final card of the Major Arcana but by then they are in full colour.  After completing their individual journeys with all their successes and glories,  trials and tribulations, ups and downs, gains and losses, those loved and lost, they will finally understand the Lessons to be learned in each Element. Then they shall be whole and ultimate success can be achieved.

A Sphinx sits on top of The Wheel holding a sword which is tilted. As before in preceding cards, the  tilted sword represents confusion in thought, lack of clarity and things not being straight forward or that there is a slant to what is being seen, experienced or perceived. The Sphinx is guardian to the wisdom of the Wheel and that which it stands for. On one side of the wheel a snake slithers downwards. This snake represents Set, the God of darkness, death and decay. When Set’s energies abound we feel chaos and lack of control in our lives, nothing feels right or works out for us.

On the other side a red-figure depicting Anubis, follows the upward rotation of the Wheel. Anubis is responsible for guiding the souls after death to the spirit world where they eventually will be reborn again into the physical. The lesson to be understood here is that out of decay and death life once again is reborn.  Eventually too that new life will decay and die once more before the re-birthing process begins once again. The cycle is continuous.   The Wheel represents not just physical life  but every aspect of life. The Wheel teaches us the Lesson of impermanence – nothing lasts for ever.  Life is in constant motion and what we experience at any given moment in time, is, in the grand scale of things, only fleeting. We can not stop the Wheel of Life from rotating no matter how much we want a particular situation to remain intact or to remain as it is. The Universe will not permit permanence for that only leads to stagnation and lack of spiritual growth.  To truly understand the lessons of The Wheel we must experience not just the upward turn of its cycle but also its down turn too. That is after all what we incarnate for.

There is great depth to The Wheel of Fortune for it teaches us some hard lessons. As far as the Sphinx is concerned there is no fortune or ‘Lady Luck’ involved in which part of The Wheel you ride on, for be it on the downward or upward turn you are fully responsible for your position. No finger can be pointed at another in blame or that fate or the Gods are shining down on or cursing you. You got here all by yourself and the Sphinx advises that if you are clever and wise you should stop and be observant as to how you got where you are on The Wheel, for it is not by chance. Be it on the upward or downward turn it is the right place for you at this point of time.  However, The Wheel is in constant motion so wherever you are on it, remember that this time too will pass, the Wheel will turn once more and what is in the now will soon become the past.

It is generally and traditionally believed that when The Wheel of Fortune is upright a positive change in circumstances is indicated. Indeed Lady Luck appears to shine on you. Note I use the words ‘appears to’ in relation to the present welcome change in circumstances that the Upright Wheel brings. Often what appears to be either good or bad luck turns out to be just the opposite or a catalyst to the other which ever is involved. You may lose your job and believe that life is dreadful and that you have neither luck nor money. In fact, life appears to be going awful. However, now that you have no job and time on your hands you can reflect on whether you were happy in your job and whether you were getting paid enough for all your experience and hard work. You then decide to start your own business with your vast knowledge and a year later it is thriving and you are very happy and life appears to be going well. Surely then, the downward turn of The Wheel was not so bad after all and you learnt a lot from your experience. What if then you have to spend every hour of your waking life maintaining your business, stressed and with no social life. Maybe the upward turn of The Wheel was not so beneficial after all?

What The Wheel of Fortune brings to us is the wisdom to understand that our circumstances are always changing and that what started out as appearing bad or negative as the wheel goes into its downward turn may not be so bad after all as it reaches its furthermost northerly point. Remember, that at that stage, The Wheel has nowhere to go but up again and the apparent onset of the positive in the upward turn of the wheel will too eventually diminish or dissipate as The Wheel reaches the summit of its upward turn.

In life there is a season for everything. A time to live, a time to love, a time to work, a time to play, a time to rest, a time to be happy, a time to be sad, a time to gain, a time to lose, a time to be young, a time to be old and a time to die. By the time the Four Winged Figures reach the final card or point in their journey, The World, they will have absorbed the meaning of this and thus will not be so distressed by the turn of The Wheel and all that it brings. They will then have a deep spiritual understanding of  the changes they have experienced in their life.

The Wheel of Fortune teaches us to be aware of our present circumstances and observe patterns in our life, cycles when things went either well or bad for us for there are lessons to be learned . If we do not want these patterns to keep repeating themselves then we should know how they started in the first place and that is exactly what the Four Winged Figures in each corner are learning from their books.  The Wheel of Fortune teaches us the lesson of Karma, of Cause and Effect in our lives.

The Wheel of Fortune represents everything of a cyclical nature be it the four seasons, the incoming and outgoing tides, good times/bad times, anniversaries, birth/growth/death/rebirth, beginnings/middle/end.  The Wheel of Fortune is numbered Ten and if you look back to your numerology 10 reduces down to 1 as in 1+0=1. So it is both 10 for completion and endings and 1 for beginnings all at the same time i.e. (death/birth).


When The Wheel Of Fortune appears in a spread upright it strongly points to a positive change in circumstances. Life is going well for you at this stage and there is much growth and abundance around you. It is a good omen for starting a business or taking a risk. In fact ‘Lady Luck’ appears to be shining down on you. You may be in the right place at the right time or have a chance meeting with someone who can greatly help or assist you in where you are going. Plenty of socialising and activity, rushing around here and there is indicated. Parties and even the chance of meeting well-known people or celebrities. These people can teach you a lot if you are prepared to listen.

It is important not to get too showy, cocky or full of yourself while under the beneficial influence of The Wheel of Fortune for remember Pride cometh before a fall and when The Wheel makes its downward turn you may live to regret it  and feel silly. Instead be grateful that you are on the upward turn, learn from it and make the most of it.

Don’t be reckless under this influence and believe you are immortal, untouchable or infallible. If money has started to flow in and business or work orders are increasing, be sure to put some money away for there is bound to be a rainy day not too far off in the future.

Life may well have speeded up.  Change may be sudden and exciting. Lots of places to be, things to do, parties and functions to attend and people who are clamouring to meet you. You may find that any relationship you are in is  improving or changing for the better or relationship opportunities have increased all of a sudden. Suddenly every one loves you and you feel real good about yourself.  Take the time to enjoy and cherish this period for there is much to be learned about yourself and your partner. Self-esteem is on the increase and if dieting the weight just seems to drop off you with little effort on your part.

Maybe you are becoming aware of patterns and cycles in your life and finding understanding in why things are the way they are. Could someone’s anniversary or birthday be coming around once more. The Wheel of Fortune also points to past lives and their karma affecting your current life. All in all, things are looking up for you when The Wheel of Fortune appears upright in a spread.

Now Go To The Wheel of Fortune Reversed

Back to Lesson 5


The Fool Upright  The Fool Reversed

The Magician Upright  The Magician Reversed

The High Priestess Upright   The High Priestess Reversed

The Empress Upright   The Empress Reversed

The Emperor Upright    The Emperor Reversed

The Heirophant Upright    The Heirophant Reversed

The Lovers Upright     The Lovers Reversed

The Chariot Upright   The Chariot Reversed

Strength Upright     Strength Reversed

The Hermit Upright   The Hermit Reversed

The Wheel of Fortune Upright   The Wheel of Fortune Reversed

Justice Upright   Justice Reversed

The Hanged Man Upright   The Hanged Man Reversed

Death Upright     Death Reversed

Temperence Upright     Temperence Reversed

The Devil Upright   The Devil Reversed

The Tower Upright     The Tower Reversed

The Star Upright     The Star Reversed

The Moon Upright    The Moon Reversed

The Sun Upright     The Sun Reversed

Judgement Upright      Judgement Reversed

The World Upright     The World Reversed

Lesson 1   Lesson 2    Lesson 3   Lesson 4


6 replies »

  1. I have learned so much from tarot on your blog, you make it easy to comprehend, I do hope you get around to the re-work on some cards you mentioned. 🙂


  2. I don’t understand the ‘note the word appears in relation…… that the Upright Wheel brings’. Can you help me with that?


    • Hi Ethan,

      Thank you for your enquiry. I had to read through the page a few times before I found what you were asking about. This Card has not been re-worked as of yet and so has not had my full attention. The line should read,

      Note I use the words ‘appears to’ in relation to the present welcome change in circumstances that the Upright Wheel brings.

      This implies that what often appears to be Lady Luck shining down upon us does not always work out as we imagine. We may end up eventually cursing what we believed to be good luck or discover the blessing or gift in what initially appears to be bad luck.

      I do hope this has helped.


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