Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Tarot Tales: W is for the Wheel of Fortune

Welcome to the 2021 A to Z Blogging Challenge! My theme this year is Tarot Tales. I am making a selection of folktales, legends, and other traditional stories that correspond to tarot cards. Storytelling and tarot go well together. Do other stories come to mind? Let me know in the comments!

The card: The Wheel (of Fortune)

Meanings: This one is pretty self-explanatory. The card stands for good luck (or a turn of luck), the constant changing of things, destiny, karma, and moving from one phase of life into another. It is a card of turning points and the acceptance of the impermanence of everything.

Selection process: I have recently been working on a book of trickster tales, and came across this story, which I found both enchanting and very wise.

The story: The Hedley Kow

Origin: England

A good-natured old woman finds a pot full of gold coins by the road. She starts happily dragging it home (she is too weak to lift it). When she glances back after a while, she notices the pot of gold has turned into a chunk of silver. She decides silver is just as good, in fact less trouble than gold, and happily walks on. When she glances back again, she notes the silver has transformed into iron. Mulling it over, she concludes iron is just as good because she doesn't have to fear thieves, and she can sell it to the blacksmith. The next time she glances back, the iron has turned into a rock. She decides it's a rather pretty rock, and she needs one to prop the door open anyway. However, when she arrives home, the rock suddenly sprouts legs and ears, and turns into a strange fairy creature, running away with a mischievous laugh. The old woman concludes she was rather lucky to meet the Hedley Kow, a famous shapeshifting trickster, and she settles for getting a good story out of the whole thing. Whatever happens, she just goes with the flow, never losing her optimistic view on the world.

Sources & notes: Read the story in Joseph Jacobs' More English Fairy Tales here.

Runner-ups: Honestly, the Jewish folktale known as "This too shall pass" would have been the prefect candidate for this card, but it has been written about a lot, and I wanted to pick something less obvious.

Have you ever made the most of an unlikely situation? Do you think you would have handled the encounter with the Hedley Kow differently?


  1. Well, it wasn't her gold in the first place, so she really didn't have an right to complain in the end. Plus, she got the good story to tell. I can't think of anything off the top of my head, but I think many of us have probably had something out of the blue we had to play by ear (sorry for mixing metaphors!). It throws a lot of us.

  2. I admire optimists, but I'm not one myself. I probably would've been disappointed in that old woman's place.

  3. I love tricksters and I love optimists so this is a win-win for me. May we always find goodness wherever the wheel ends up spinning us.

  4. Like the offers in spammy emails, I would bypass the sack of gold as too good to be true . . . and what would I do with it anyway? I find that anything I haven't worked to earn has so much less value. The possibility of good fortune and a successful turn of the wheel is always nice to imagine, though.

  5. Many years ago, when I was on a trip to England, I arranged to meet a friend who worked in Oxford. Those were the days before we all had mobile phones, so she was unable to let me know that she had had to attend a very long work meeting(we met later, in London). After waiting an hour, I just plunged into the streets of Oxford, which I didn’t know without a map, and made some delightful discoveries, including a Saxon tower, Christchurch College, where Alice Liddell’s father worked and, across the road, an Alice-themed souvenir shop, which was the one used by Tenniel to illustrate Through The Looking Glass. I was sorry to miss my friend, but had a great time anyway.

  6. What a nice story! Don't see enough like it.
    Thanks for all these great Tarot snipets this month.

  7. What a fun story! I love it.

    Anne from annehiga.com

  8. Very similar to Hans in Luck. I think nowadays it might be nice to get a selfie with the Hedley Kow before it ran away.
    Black and White: W for Workshop

  9. She sounds like a very optimistic woman!

    Ronel visiting for the A-Z Challenge with an A-Z of Faerie: The Ultimate Fae Warrior