Last week you learned about Diana, one of Jupiter’s daughters. In modern astrology, we use the whole family tree that began with Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and the rest. In fact, the Romans would have thought we were stupid not to do so. Astrologers now have software like Solar Fire to help them calculate zodiac sign and house positions for asteroids like Fortuna, so we are free to enrich the vocabulary of meaning we use, rather than being stuck in the 20th century.
Fortuna is an ancient symbol for modern times, known in Shakespeare. This painting by Kuntze-Konicz shows her blindfolded and spinning the world – turning the world.
She is always unable to see what she is doing. This is a symbol for ‘blind control’ in your horoscope. It is a unique asteroid and image, because Fortuna ‘knows not what she does.’ This can either be quite providential and fortunate, or it can take you down, depending on the chart, the sign, the aspects and the transits.
Minerva is seen on the far left of this painting with her head in her hands. All her brilliance, wisdom and strategy is for nothing because her sister has taken charge in her usual random way.
Their father Jupiter is a symbol of optimism, though. Tremendous and constant hope for something bigger and better. So, no matter if Fortuna spins the Wheel of Fortune down, she always brings it up again.
These are very old ideas. Our concept of ‘fortunate’ comes from Fortuna and of course her father Jupiter was known as the greater benefic.
Yet, ill fortune also comes from her. In the Tarot she is the Wheel of Fortune. By sign and house, find her in your chart. This is where you unwittingly and sometimes quite unconsciously control events for other people.
Fortuna was thought to whip up everything from the storm that could ground a ship, to other natural phenomena that spun or turned events. In your chart by transit or natal placement she has a spinning, whirling, random quality. Ups and downs sums it up.
Extract From 2020 Vision
My book 2020 Vision: Your Five-Year Horoscope Guide was published in 2016, four years before COVID-19 took its first life in January 2020. Read down to the final paragraph to see a prediction about Fortuna that month. Remember, she is about ‘fate and fortune’ and has a spinning, random quality.
Fortuna is an asteroid. Jupiter is her father. In fact, she was his first-born daughter. She is always shown blindfolded, holding a rudder and a gigantic wheel. It is the Wheel of Fortune. Tarot readers know it well.
The word fortuna is from the Latin fors, or “luck” and Boethius wrote of the goddess, “I turn about my wheele with speed, and take a pleasure to turne things upside downe. Ascend if thou wilt…”
When Fortuna travels through your horoscope (my website can tell you when) she spins your life around, so that every low is a high in the making, and every high is a low in the making.
Natally, she shows where you unwittingly send other people up and down. You spin them round. You have no idea what you’re doing, although if you know your birth chart Fortuna placement by sign and house, it will help you live more consciously.
One translation for Boethius reads, “It’s my belief that history is a wheel. “Inconsistency is my very essence,” says the wheel. “Rise up on my spokes if you like, but don’t complain when you are cast back down in the depths. Good times pass away, but then so do the bad. Mutability is our tragedy, but it is also our hope. The worst of times, like the best, are always passing away.”
Fortuna makes philosophers of us. It can also show us how absurd life is. Boethius was the author of a book called Consolations of Philosophy. Fortuna can make comedians of us too. This old goddess teaches us not to take anything too seriously, as life is so ridiculous, that everything moves on, anyway. Life puts you up where you belong, and then drops you from a great height. How ridiculous to be so attached to anything!
Dr. Clayton G. MacKenzie analysed Fortuna in Shakespeare’s plays. A manuscript in the British Library shows Lady Fortuna standing by her wheel. Around her humanity pleads for help but she doesn’t seem to notice them. Four figures sit on the wheel holding scrolls.
At the top is a king with a scroll saying “I reign.” At the bottom is a beggar with a scroll saying “I am without rule.” On the downward slope of the wheel is an outcast courtier, with a scroll saying “I have ruled.” On the upward slope, an ambitious, climbing courtier with a scroll that reads “I shall rule.”
A little rain comes into every life. Fortuna by sign and house shows you where you are blindly in control of the process of Regno, Regnavi, Sum sine Regno, Regnabo (“I rein, I reigned, I am without reign, I shall rein.”) This house of your chart is cyclical. If you have other horoscope factors apart from Fortuna they will tell you the whole story.
Fortuna does not know what she does. She cannot see. By transit, it can feel as if some random, powerful ‘thing’ is spinning our wheel.
As with many asteroids in Mod Astrology, the best source for Fortuna is not an astrology book, at all, but an academic text. The Folger Shakespeare Library published a volume called Fortune to accompany an exhibition on the goddess, which is a great source for astrologers.
Fortuna was traditionally associated with the sea. She is often seen with a steering oar or rudder in one hand and a cornucopia in the other, symbolising success. You see it all over Renaissance art.
Fortuna used to rule the ground floor of the Victoria and Albert museum. I went back to see her recently and the staff had moved her. Fortuna had reigned, but reigned no more. I am sure the next time I meet Lily or Harriet there for tea, Fortuna will be back!
That lovely phrase “kiss the joy as it flies” suits Fortuna in your chart. If she is transiting with a stellium of other heavenly bodies in your horoscope there will be a massive story, full of twists and turns, highs and lows.
If you are going through something absolutely rotten in your life, caused by some outer planet square or opposition (Neptune square Neptune will do it) then Fortuna should cheer you up. You may be all at sea now but soon she will send your boat in the direction of rich rewards, steering you towards abundance. None of it would have happened, had you not been heading for the bottom.
In his massive bestseller (I’m joking) the Dictionarie of the French and English Tongves (1611) a writer named Randall Cotgrave described Fortune as “hap, chaunce, luck, lot, hazard, aduenture; also destinie, fatall necessitie.” She’s fickle.
Astrology itself is a great illustration of Fortuna. The horoscope is your wheel of destiny; fate and fortune are written in the circle. Along come the transits, shown by the spinning wheel of time – and you are thrown up or down.
As Shakespeare wrote, “This is the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in fortune – often the surfeits of our own behaviour – we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon and the stars, as if we were villains on necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion, knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical predominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforc’d obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on.”
The 1987 Wall Street Crash on October 19th, 1987 saw Fortuna at 17 Virgo, the sign ruling employment, exactly square serious Saturn at 17 Sagittarius, the sign we associate with foreign places and people.
What happened in New York saw Fortuna spinning her wheel around the world. It affected our jobs everywhere. All you can predict with Fortuna is that life will be unpredictable! As always with the symbols in your horoscope, the best way to understand Fortuna is to gaze at the art. You can pick up a lot of of these pictures at my website.
The “slings and arrows of outrageous Fortune” in Hamlet were terrifying to people centuries ago, who could find a downward spiral did not end in help from a charity, or government assistance. No wonder Shakespeare and his fans were obsessed with Fortuna.
Christians believed the best way to avoid those slings and arrows, was to live a life of poverty, with no ambition, power or pride to tempt you. That way you could escape from the gigantic wheel. Moderation in everything! No social climbing!
This is a long way to peer into the future, as we publish this book in 2016, but I wondered what part Fortuna might play in the big Capricorn stellium of 2020. You find her in your software, by looking for a tiny wheel symbol, even though Fortuna can have big impact.
She is there on the 1st of January 2020 at 8 Capricorn, exactly alongside the True South Node of karma at 8 Capricorn. Read more in the chapter, Here Comes 2020.
Feature Image Credit: Xuan Nguyen