See the cripple dance | The Wheel of Fortune: Learning to accept good luck

The Wheel of Fortune is nutrient-dense, layers and layers of symbolism squished into one card.

It’s consistently been one of the cards that stumps me no matter how many times I draw it – I still have to check a book or two to remind me what it’s all about, beyond: You have no control over the universe. Good luck!

My birth date is October 16th, 1985. To tally my Year Card, I add the digits of my birthday to the current year until I come to a number in the Major Arcana. 10 + 16 + 2018 = 2044 = 2 + 0 + 4 + 4 = 10. 10 = Wheel of Fortune. (You can use a similar equation to find your birth card, using your birth year instead of the current year. You can even make up your own equations if you feel like it!) And – so far – I have had good luck this year.

I’ve been able to travel again. I signed consent forms to get a hysterectomy. I’ve been on sweet dates, gotten more tattoos, received kind letters in the mail, and saw Marilyn Manson live again. After I turn in this column, I’m running away to spend a few days with a dear friend in a cabin in a forest with no wifi or running water. The snow is melting. I’ve survived another Winter. Some did not.

In Modern Tarot, Michelle Tea writes:

When this card pops up, you can be sure that you’re really living and that whatever gnarly, sad, or embarrassing pickle you may have recently gotten yourself into is on the outs. The Wheel of Fortune promises that change is the only thing you can rely on, and while that can sometimes suck (who wants their lovely relationship to end or their flush bank account to drain?), this card promises that the changes heading your way are happy ones that will tug you out of whatever rut you’re in and thrust you deeper into the bigger, richer themes of your life.

Sometimes I feel hesitant to talk about my life when things are going ‘well’.

I want to hold onto it, keep it to myself, not let it get spoiled by anyone else’s feelings, responses, or lack of responses. I share my joys and pleasures with those closest to me, a small handful of trusted friends and lovers – and even then, I find myself wanting to assure them that I’m still hurting, too; that the presence of joy and pleasure do not mean the absence of trauma and pain. I find myself almost apologizing for my happiness, as if I don’t deserve it, haven’t earned it.

When good things happen to you, what are your first thoughts? When your wishes come true, do you tell anyone? When you tell your pals good news, are they happy for you? When your friends share joyful experiences with you, are you happy for them? Do you keep good luck to yourself? Do you feel protective of it? Over-protective? Do you feel the need to defend yourself? Where do these feelings come from? Have you ever told a posi story to a pal and regretted it?

Language is something I’m always contemplating. When my chronic illness went into remission, the words I used most often to describe the feelings in my body and psyche, the changes happening in my daily life were: bizarre, strange, and new. I felt like I’d stepped outside of time and into another world. What felt sudden to me was actually a bodily integration of multiple forms of long-term work: therapeutic practices, experimentation with psychedelics, prescriptions for effective medication, somatic exercises to stay present in my body, studying theories of disability and madness as well as histories of disability activism and justice; conversations with my younger selves, reclaiming words and ideas, surviving my Saturn Return; a reconfiguration of my memories and the stories I told about myself (whether to myself or to others), the labels I clung to, and the meanings I attributed to my pain, physical and emotional alike.

In the Next World Tarot, a figure holds onto a closed purse, gold clasp snapped shut. They hold the handbag close to their body, appearing neither protective nor defensive, but comfortable and confident, discerning and clever. Lines have formed around their eyes and lips, showing time and age. An aura of circular objects spins around them: film spools, bicycle tires, clocks, and flowers. They’ve also got a hammer, a wrench, and a composition notebook.

Though this card is often about letting go of control, of good luck on the way, Cristy Road’s re-imagining reveals some of the work that goes into this process, the actions taken to keep the wheels turning, and the impossibility of divulging all the inner workings of the universe, of the ways we cope and make magic, of what goes on in our own internal worlds. The colours and shapes in the card draw our attention to the figure’s head, hands, and feet. Thought, care, and action; emotions, work, and movement.

I’ve been making plans, writing stories, taking notes. I’ve been beginning new notebooks, scribbling all the time. I’ve been realizing again and again that despite – and through – all the pain, confusion and indecision, my life is becoming more and more dreamy, more and more my own.

In The Collective Tarot, the tenth card is Chance and the aesthetic is circus-y. The creatures on the ride of Fortuna have always struck me as toys and plush dolls, prizes at the fair, something playful and curious. The sun and the moon are both visible in the sky on this card, a delightful incongruence. Look closely, and you’ll find the secret set of eyes on the wheel, a hidden witness to the beautiful chaos of the stars.

About those words, bizarre, strange, and new. They felt accurate, but not adequate. The trouble with using a word like ‘bizarre’ to describe my life was that it became more difficult to integrate positive emotions and experiences into my bodypsyche, to trust them as real. It felt radical to realize that all my joy is just as real as my pain. Luck still comes as a surprise, but I’m adapting to understanding it as part of my reality; I’ve been trying not to invalidate myself by not believing that magic and joy are real.

What words do you use to describe your life when you realize you’ve taken a few steps – or rolls or wobbles or limps – beyond coping and have begun to feel pleasure, resilience, and joy? How do you begin to find these words when you’d never needed them before?

I’m really into the simplicity of The Everyday Witch re-vision of the Wheel of Fortune. The symbols on the wheel relate to home, love, learning, commitment, health, etc. It’s a game you can’t lose – no matter what, the arrow’s gonna land somewhere, and you’ll experience luck in that area of your life. It might look like winning a fight against an eviction, falling in love unexpectedly, finding a book that keeps you mesmerized and enchanted, or finally being given a much-needed prescription or coverage for medical care. It might be dramatic or it might be ordinary. If you’ve fucked up or if you’ve been hurt, this card could indicate being given another chance.

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  1. Lydia says:

    I really relate to this post as the Wheel of Fortune is one of those cards that almost always sees me reaching for a book, too. I love the idea of ‘a game you can’t lose’; looking for and recognising that luck or joy when it comes (when it is so often notable by its absence) feels like a radical and validating act.

  2. Alis says:

    The Wheel has come up for me three times this month alone, twice in the last three days. In using the Earthbound Oracle, “Time” and “Cycle” have been repeats; as has “Chance” in the Flowers of the Night Oracle. I’ve been meditating on the Wheel, and these concepts behind it, trying to engage as deeply as I can. I just keep hearing “cycle” and “change.” It has a pretty positive slant, in my spreads, but it’s a little intimidating to get it so frequently! I appreciate your column — it is very timely.

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