Sources of the Waite/Smith Tarot Symbols by Robert V. O'Neill The Wheel of Fortune

Wheel of Fortune

Wheel Free-floatingEteillaMinchiateVisconti-Sforza
No Turn HandleMinchiateVisconti-Sforza
Sphinx AtopLevi
Sphinx SeatedLevi
No PlatformGoulinatVievilleMet Sheet
Sphinx has SwordLeviT de Marseille
Sword over shoulderGebelinT de Marseille
Egyptian HeaddressLevi
4 Winged BeastsLevi
Fox-face AscendingLeviVievilleMet Sheet
Fox-face NakedGumppenberg
Serpent descendingGoulinat
Triple CircleLevi
8 spokesLeviVievilleMet Sheet
Signs on 4 SpokesLevi


  1. Just about the whole image is taken from Levi (figure p 173 and a description p 381 of Transcendental Magic and an image from Levi’s Key of the Mysteries, all translated and published in English by Waite). Levi's description says the descending figure is Typhon - usually shown as a crocodile. But Waite/Smith had available an article by Westcott, a recent book by Sir Wallis Budge and a figure in another Levi work - all justifying the representation of Typhon as a serpent.

  2. The illustration in Levi shows signs on the spokes - but not these signs. These signs are (from the top clockwise) mercury, sulphur, water, salt. These are standard Golden Dawn signs (see Regardie, Golden Dawn, p 60).

  3. The 4 beasts are from Revelations 4:7-8 “The first animal was like a lion, the second like a bull, the third animal had a human face, and the fourth animal was like a flying eagle.” A footnote in the Jerusalem Bible states that following Iraeneus the four beasts came to symbolize the four evangelists.

    Also relevant is Rev 7:1 “Next I saw four angels, standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the world...” In turn, this imagery comes from Ezekial 1:5-15 which records his vision of the Chariot “I saw what seemed four animals...each had four faces , each had four wings...they had human faces, and all four had a lion’s face to the right and all four had a bull’s face to the left and all four had an eagle’s face...there was a wheel on the ground by each of them...”

Based on original research by Robert V. O'Neill. To add to this collection of information, please email Robert V. O'Neill.

The Fool
The Magician
The High Priestess
The Empress
The Emperor
The Hierophant
The Lovers
The Chariot
The Hermit
Wheel of Fortune
The Hanged Man
The Devil
The Tower
The Star
The Moon
The Sun
The World
Introduction to Sources of the Waite/Smith Tarot Symbols

Additional Tarot History Resources Related to
Sources of the Waite/Smith Tarot Symbols

Holly's Rider-Waite Site A. E. Waite
The Hermitage: A Tarot History Site Villa Revak