Jupiter and The Wheel of Fortune

By Lailia Wilson


Wheel of Fortune from the Rider-Waite-Smith Centennial Edition

Often the Wheel of Fortune card, trump X, is associated with the planet Jupiter in astrology.  The two have some similarities and some differences. The Wheel of Fortune card indicates changes in luck as well as a mixture of good and bad luck. Jupiter is different. In astrology it is known as the “Greater Benefic,” the most positive vibration in the celestial sphere. While the Wheel of Fortune card has numerous meanings, including the cycles of life, unavoidable fate, turns of luck, inevitable falls from grace, and balancing the Karmic scales, Jupiter’s meanings are more straight forward and it is simply a matter of too little Jupiter, too much Jupiter, or just the right amount. 

You will see some illustrations of various decks here, and you likely have a deck or two at home to view. In addition, see various Wheel of Fortune cards at https://www.pinterest.com/wiselalia/the-wheel-of-fortune/.

Let us start with Tarot’s Wheel of Fortune. Although Trump X, Fortune, can be good luck or bad luck, it is varied as to the deck you use. (If you are a tarot enthusiast who believes there is an absolute meaning to each card, regardless of the creator’s intent, I disagree.) 

Consider the Wheel of Fortune in the Osho Zen deck, called “Change.” Here the image is probably the most benign of any Fortune card. There is an inner Yin-Yang symbol, lightening bolts, the astrological wheel. The whole wheel spins. The predominant colors are blues and greys, suggesting the mind. There is clearly an indication of change, but not necessarily bad. 

For the opposite version, see more traditional wheels such as the Morgan-Greer deck in which the kings and queens at the top of the wheel are shortly to find themselves out of power, though that unlucky change may not yet be apparent to them. There is a similar feel to the Anna K Tarot’s Wheel and to the Nine Lives Tarot Wheel of Fortune.

In the Mythic Tarot Wheel of Fortune we see the Three Fates spinning and cutting the threads of people’s lives, an ancient concept of the whims of fortune. It suggests that our fate is out of our reach entirely. It entirely depends upon the whim of a goddess.

The Celtic Tarot Wheel of Fortune shows a gambler, prepared to win and keep his winnings. He has a grim expression on his face and a sword at his hand. Unlike the concept that fate is out of our control, here the gambler sees his determination, skills, and advance planning (with the sword and the lockbox for his earnings) as all ways he can influence and retain his winnings.

The Rider-Waite-Smith deck shows a more medieval image: the spinning wheel, the Sphinx, and a devil, as well as the four fixed signs depicted as their respective animals, though these could also indicate archangels—and do in some tarot decks. There is no clear good or bad in this card, but it is unsettling if you study it closely. Why? Because it suggests that the amount of positive luck is much less than negative luck, and the negatives are quite bad.

The Rider-Waite-Smith card shows a theme common during Medieval times, the spinning wheel of fortune. Compare this to a Christian painting done about 1480, Hieronymus Bosch’s The Seven Sins and the Four Last Rites. (See image at https://www.pinterest.com/pin/260645897163127129/.) There is very much a similar feel to the two. The Bosch painting is done in the round on a table top, extremely unusual for a painter. However, tarot cards are meant to be viewed from above as they lie on table tops. 

Let’s turn now to the planet Jupiter in astrology. In astrology Jupiter is the “Greater Benefic,” the bringer of the best of everything. (The Lesser Benefic being Venus.) Jupiter brings abundance in every regard: abundance of material goods, emotions, thoughts and inspirations. Jupiter is luck you can always count on, he seemingly never lets you down. You can find pieces of Jupiter in many tarot cards. Here is a sampling:

  • The courage and optimism of The Fool.
  • The Fertility of The Empress.
  • The promise of all four Aces.
  • The abundance of the Nine and Ten of Pentacles.
  • The overflowing joy of the Three, Nine and Ten of Cups.
  • The journeys of the Six of Swords and the Eight of Wands. (Jupiter is the planet of travel.)

Jupiter is also the sense of privilege and entitlement indicated at the top of the Wheel of Fortune. Yet, even in astrology, Jupiter can go wrong. However, he goes wrong in different ways than might be suggested in The Wheel of Fortune card. Jupiter goes wrong by bringing too much. Too much food, giving obesity. Too much money, suggesting greed. Too much of many things. The most problematic of Jupiter’s “too much” is too much confidence. This can lead to impulsive actions and risky behaviors. Too much Jupiter can be the person who thinks negative consequences will never happen to him or her: they won’t get caught by the police, they won’t get diabetes even though they are overweight and eat a lot of sweets, they won’t get a STD even though they are indiscriminate in sexual partners and take no precautions… For other examples of too much Jupiter, google the “Hold my beer” meme. The antidote for “too much” is the planet Saturn which will be the subject of a future article.

Before leaving Jupiter it is good to remember the positives of Jupiter’s blessings—Good Luck. There is a famous quote which has been mangled in history, when Napoleon Bonaparte was criticized for winning battles simply because of luck, he famously retorted: “I’d rather have lucky generals than good ones.” Bonaparte was the most celebrated power in Europe for many years as a result of this approach to military strategy.

What is astrology’s closest analogy to The Wheel of Fortune? It is the Part of Fortune, a point derived from the positions of the person’s Sun, Moon and Ascendant. For that reason it requires a known time of birth, or, alternatively, a rectified chart. The Part of Fortune is also called The Lot of Fortune, Pars Fortuna, or simply Fortuna. The Part of Fortune was first written down by Arabic Astrologer Al-Biruni in 1029 AD. Since he was Arabic, the fortunes, or lots, became known as the Arabic Parts. However it is known that these sensitive places in the horoscope far predated Al-Biruni.

The Part of Fortune is calculated as the Ascendant + Moon – Sun. Actually this is the calculation specific to those born during the day. If you are born at night it is Ascendant + Sun – Moon. Many astrologers either ignore Fortuna entirely or simply use the day formula for all charts. Astrologer Michael O’Reilly’s pioneering work uses the day formula with Fortuna in Political Astrology—see his website, www.neptunecafe.com. He’s now confident he can find the determining factor in presidential elections using Fortuna.

Unlike Jupiter, Fortuna can show bad, even disastrous luck. This can be shown by its natal placement and aspects as well as by transits and progressions to natal Fortuna, and configurations activated by progressed Fortuna. 

When the first documented tarot cards were created in mid-fifteenth century Italy, Fortuna, the Roman goddess of luck, had been around for over 18 centuries. Fortuna, the goddess of chance and fate as well as luck, is connected to the Greek goddess Tyche. Both goddesses were petitioned for good luck. Fortuna had a temple built for her in Rome in the fifth century BC. Some scholars connect Fortuna and Tyche back to the Egyptian goddess Isis, who was first worshiped in the Fifth Dynasty Egypt, about 2490 BC. For our purposes Isis is too far away from the concept of luck, as Isis was the goddess of health, marriage and wisdom—though one could argue that these are heavily influenced by luck.

According to Wikipedia, “The earliest reference to the Wheel of Fortune, emblematic of the endless changes in life between prosperity and disaster, is from 55 BC according to Cicero, In Pisonem.” Fortuna and her wheel indicate the whims of fate, or the whims of the gods. 

By the time tarot was formalized, the wheel of changing luck was long since associated with the Roman goddess Fortuna which is why today we seen these concepts variously conveyed by different tarot decks. The Wheel of Fortune thus can indicate a turning point, movement, or destiny. It certainly indicates forces beyond the person’s control acting in her life.

How do I read The Wheel of Fortune? It depends upon the entire spread and my conversation with the client. My emphasis is more likely to be a change, a change in luck. This is not always a positive change, which might be implied by the connection to astrology’s Jupiter. Trump X is about cycles of change, what goes up must come down. There is an implied seize the moment, and save for the future in the Wheel. I recommend doing so. Now this card is sounding like Aesop’s story of the Grasshopper and the Ant…

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