Queering the Tarot: The Wheel


Cassandra Snow takes readers on a queer tour of tarot reading. Check out the first nine parts: Queering The Tarot: The Hermit, Queering The Tarot: Strength, Queering The Tarot: The Chariot, Queering the Tarot: The Lovers, Queering the Tarot: The Hierophant, Queering the Tarot: The Emperor, The Empress, and Archaic Gender Roles, Queering the Tarot: The High Priestess, Queering The Tarot: The Magician, Queering the Tarot, and Queering the Tarot: Let’s Start at the Very Beginning

The Wheel — be it of Time, of Fortune, of the Zodiac, or simply “The Wheel” — depending on your deck and interpretation is a beloved card for people who have been having a rough go of it. It’s a card that promises that everything has its season, and that your season is coming. The season of success is coming. Big changes are coming, and while change is always scary, if you adapt quickly, you are headed straight for success. Traditionally, this card also imbues a lot of arguably feminine energy. Maiden, Mother, and Crone are present to see us through the Wheel of Time and bless us with The Wheel of Fortune. This can be a bit of a problem for those of us interested in queering the tarot, as I try to abolish gender roles and notions of what these roles are expected to do, but in this card these ideas can actually serve us very well.

The Maiden, Mother, and Crone are not visibly partnered. They do not have male counterparts that we see. There is no Knave, Father, Hermit cycle to parallel this in a different card even though certainly these archetypes exist and are important to tarot. This innately puts the all of the power in this card — and there is a lot of power in this card — into the hands of women. In spite of a lot of my problems with traditional interpretations, this is actually a really awesome base to work from. This card, in spite of it’s feminine ascriptions, makes femininity a powerful, life-altering concept and in our heterosexist patriarchal society, that’s an incredible thing. This is the rare card that I will advise people to embrace the femininity of. Of the good traits those of us feminine of center are said to have, adaptability is one, and reigns in this card as the key to the querent’s success. Learn to adapt and make the best out of change, and success is yours. My final point about this trinity is that due to the way we are conditioned into thinking through binaries, the absence of male counterparts actually allows The Wheel to lend itself to androgyny. Without male counterparts, those established gender roles fall away a little, and we are left with simply powerful, magickal entities helping us usher in positive change.

Which brings us into queering what some of those changes are. There are some readings where this card will not need queered. The Wheel of Fortune in a career or finance spread is pretty simple: congrats, good things are coming. The Wheel of Time in a reading based on a straightforward question about even relationships simply tells us that, yes, there is a time coming for this. It may not be now, but it is coming. As we look at queerness and identity though, there are some changes specific to a LGBTQQIA* person’s life that this Wheel could be bringing. This card, similarly to the previously discussed High Priestess, can indicate elements of fluidity in one’s gender or sexual identity. A fixed identity could start shifting, or a fluid identity could end up stabilizing in a reading about such. For transgender querents looking to make bigger steps in their transition, this card is an excellent sign of opportunity and change headed their way. For those struggling to come out, go into their next big, queer relationship, or jumping into activist opportunities, this card is the loving anvil on the head from the universe telling you to go for it. If you’re simply LOOKING for such opportunities or relationships, this is a promise that those opportunities are coming.

I’ll throw in some examples of a queer Wheel in action for clarity. I recently had a client who started a gender transition several years ago, but had paused for quite awhile at a certain step. The Wheel showed up, albeit further down the line for them, and they ended up feeling confident that after they dealt with their current career and housing situations satisfactorily, the time would be right to complete transition. I’ll also give a rare example from my own life. This is an incredibly recent story starring The Wheel, and despite my discomfort at getting personal, it is super relevant. I recently fell for someone who identified one way when we met, and as the Wheel kept showing up in my readings and I kept misinterpreting it as immediate good news, their romantic identity ended up shifting in a way that was not compatible with us being together. I was confused at first — The Wheel DOES generally promise good things. After a couple of weeks of space, my own goals and needs are much more clear, even to me, and I am already meeting people that are more in line with that. The Wheel was not wrong, I just needed to look beyond the “fortune” promised and embrace The Wheel’s concept of change. My final example goes outside of personal identity, since being a part of the queer community — and giving back socially and politically — is so important to so many of us. Almost a year ago I saw a friend of mine for a quick reading. He had some questions about his activist work and political career. The Wheel showed up in the present position, meaning that the Wheels of Fortune and Change where already in motion to jump start those opportunities. He was young, and it seemed outlandish, but right away he did start receiving opportunities he thought were beyond his reach in various political and activist organizations, and already what he dreamt possibly for the next several years has undergone substantive change.

Like most things in life, change, fortune, and time stand on their own as universal ideas but also have specific applications for anyone under the queer umbrella. Our world is rapidly changing, in both wonderful and terrible ways, and even if divination isn’t your thing, meditating on the crucial lessons of The Wheel can lead you to higher understanding and deeper success. It’s probably time to get involved in the world’s big changes, but it’s definitely time to learn to adapt and grow so that the Maiden, Mother, and Crone usher in great things for you as the Wheel continues to turn.

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