Mary El Tarot - Wheel of Fortune

Bat Chicken

The originality of Marie’s interpretation of Tarot never ceases to amaze me. I have purposely avoided the book for the time being in order to continue the exploration. That need not hold anyone else back!

My first impression is heavily influenced by the boat. Lady Fortune made me think of the figureheads put on the front of sailing ships to bring luck and protection. There is a wonderful article on the history of figureheads here:

The boat on a sea of the Unconscious, where control is limited… Lady Fortune’s hair even seems to be made from wood – her waves like the grain.

The lotus lies at the center of the wheel, the only place that is nearly still.

Again, the cards have echoes of their neighbours with the blindfold one would expect of Lady Justice.



Well, some of the old Marseille-based decks show the wheel of fortune floating on the sea. Like many strange features in Marseille decks, it probably evolved as a misreading of an older model. Here are three, cribbed from a discussion in the newsletter from the tarot studies association.


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Laura Borealis

The 8-spoked wheel puts me in mind of the Buddhist Wheel of Dharma, especially combined with the lotus which is another Buddhist symbol. Though I am not sure how the concept of Dharma works in with Fortune. I'll have to think on that a bit.

I like your observations on figureheads, BC -- I had not thought of that. And I didn't realize the Marseilles Wheels were floating on water, though now that Debra points it out I can see that. How curious! It must have made sense at the time. :p

The shape of the boat, or at least what we can see of it, suggests a few different things to me: a vulva, a seed-pod, or the upper half of a vesica piscis. Again, not sure how these work in with Fortune, but I thought I'd put it out there.


Thanks, BC, for the link on figureheads and ships. Unfortunately, I cannot get it to load. Is anyone else having this problem?

The Oswald Wirth Wheel of Fortune also has the boat-in-water motif.

It's interesting that the Wheel and the Hermit here both feature water. Hmmm...


What I see in the image:

She is at the helm of her Spirit Boat
Marseille was back then and is still now a harbor town, who's luck depended on commerce and the ships from across the sea reaching port with the cargo in sellable condition.
With the Wheel being 10, the skipper is now in experienced enough to be in charge of his ship, his Soul boat.
She has to make decision to sail at all - or safely stay in port - and forgo the chances of rich rewards, because wind, weather, rain, currents and tides may very well leave her at the mercy of fate.
So, bare = naked in the face of the elements he/ she has to rely on feminine intuition and gut feelings (the wheel is at the place of her gut) to steer the ship onward to its destination - or into destiny
The fiery red and somewhat woody hair shows her bravery as well as her stoicism.
The white blindfold alludes to her pure intentions and also that still she has some of the 0, the innocence of the Fool about her.
The flower is at the place of her yony. She is wide open to the experience.