The Truth about “Lady Luck”
Long before our beloved “Lady Luck” was tatooed on our skin, printed on our shirts and silently prayed to before a big roll, she went by another name, and was so important in fact, that people built monolithic temples in her name and prayed to her daily!
The Luck Goddess
To the Romans she was known as “Fors Fortuna,” the goddess of fortune and the personification of luck in the ancient Roman religion.
Fortuna had many interesting characteristics, in particular she was known to be fickle but favored those who were more aggressive, she valued a bold youth rather than a timid elder. Hence the old adage “Fortune favors the bold.”
The goddess was often pictured with many symbolic objects. She wore a veil over her eyes to symbolize how luck is blind and can come to anybody. She often held a cornucopia representing her bounty, or the rudder of a sea vessel as a symbol of her control over fate.
Her most important and most telling object is the ball or wheel that she was often shown standing at the apex of. The ball was meant to show her unsteadyness, and in particular the wheel, which can only turn one way or the other, as is often the case with a streak of luck, good or bad.
Ancient Celebrations for Lady Luck
Romans would give small offerings to Fortuna at her temple, usually some of the winnings they received when she decided to grant good luck upon them. It was common for an Oracle (Roman priest or priestess who predicted the future) of the temple to have young boys deliver various fortunes written on oak rods to temple goers seeking answers.
June 11 was her sacred day, and on June 24 (Midsummer’s day) a festival took place in her honor where Romans would adorn their boats and float downstream to the city, only to row back slightly more garland and definitely more inebriated. Romans would also celebrate by throwing parties where betting games were played. Sound familiar?
Fortuna embodies the very idea of luck, its duality and its effect on our life experiences. Although some choose to believe that they are at the whim of fate, Fortuna tries to teach us that no streak of luck, whether its good or bad, will last forever.