The Wheel of Fortune Picture

The Wheel of Fortune

Anime: Ah! My Goddess!
Characters (clockwise): Belldandy, Skuld, Urd
Inside the wheel: Gan-chan

Three characters drawn from Norse mythology, the three goddesses (or more properly , the Fates) of past, present, and future surround a colourful wheel positioned directly in the center of the card. The wheel itself contains sigils and colours that represent the procession of seasons and patterns of life, as well as the composition of life itself. Also contained inside the wheel is the rat called Gan-chan, a friend and co-adventurer with the goddesses when they are bored and decide to make themselves small for fun.

The first impression of this card is that sense of motion, of circles and spirals and of a procession of repeating patterns. But what, here is really doing the moving? The wheel has handles like a ship's wheel, so it seems that someone must be steering it. At first glimpse the Fates appear to be responsible. But look - although they are certainly taking an interest in it, none of them is actually touching the wheel. Could it be that the wheel is actually being turned from within by Gan-chan, who is running the proverbial rat race like a hamster in a hamster wheel?

And if it is Gan-chan setting the entire thing in motion, then who is actually moving in this picture? Do the goddesses of past, present, and future (ie the representations of Time) actually move around the wheel? Or is Gan-chan the one moving past them?

Notice the sigils around the edge of the wheel - both the line of Elder Futhark runes and the procession of planetary sigils. They sit near the rim of the wheel, where the motion is greatest; here, the most difference between the various states of being is perceived. Further inside the wheel are the colours of the four elements, which classical Greek mysticism associates with the fundamental composition of the material world. Situated inside the four colours are the two colours of the yin/yang wheel, associated with classical Taoist thought regarding the origin of all things in the world, including the elements. And still yet within the center of the Tao sits the one shining point of singularity, the Prime Point which sits at the center of absolutely everything. There are many names for this point under the guises of many different religions and philosophies.

The One becomes Two, the Two becomes Four, the Four become Many...and within that system Gan-chan is contained, running in a perpetual circle (and cycle) of ups and downs, successes and failures, oblivious to his surroundings. To him the successes and failures seem to come randomly and through no fault of his own. He usually blames the goddesses.

Where is the real origin of all this motion?

Meanings at a glance: The tides of life are about to change, seemingly by random chance. However, if one were to look deeply into the situation it might be seen as the result of a karmic reaction in the Newtonion sense - for every action there is a reaction, and what goes around comes around. Right side up, the change is usually for the better. When the card is reversed, it generally means you are on the downslide on the wheel of life. Either way, don't get too comfortable or distressed - the wheel keeps on turning and the ride continues.


This is one of the cards whose characters were really very obvious to me. The characters themselves as presented in the manga may not be entirely pertinent, but architypally they are perfect, and Gan-chan is just the perfect fit for most of us poor schlubs running the rat race of everyday life.

Artistically I wish I could've come up with a better solution for the left side of the card. Maybe I should've done something else with Belldandy's blue coat thingy. Ideally Urd could've been moved around clockwise to space her evenly with the other two goddesses, but I didn't want to end up cropping off part of her face. Besides, she seemed to want to float languidly below the wheel.

Funnily enough, it wasn't until I was typing up this description to post to DA that I realized I probably should've put the Futhark runes outside the planetary sigils. Believe it or not, I didn't even notice the 1 --> 2 --> 4 --> 12 --> 24 pattern until I was typing up the commentary. The sigils were a biznatch to do though, so it may be a bit before I redo them for this card.
Continue Reading: The Fates