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Lady Luck: Cards, Dice, Gambling Paraphernalia, Shamrock

The most widespread contemporary folk-form of Fortuna in the United States is "Lady Luck," matron of gamblers and chance. She is seen in many guises and in many places as a buxom, youthful woman surrounded by symbols of gambling and good luck. These good luck symbols come from many sources but find a unifying personal locus in Her. They include cards (especially four aces) and the symbols for the suites, dice, roulette wheels (called "wheels of Fortune" before the twentieth century CE), horseshoes, shamrocks, etc., and in this form Fortuna often holds a glass of beer, betokening Her relationship with pubs and bars. One imagines that She might also have an affinity for sports and athletic contests, perhaps especially horse racing. She's hanging in many bars and casinoes (where She is sometimes impersonated), is tatooed on many bodies, has been painted on the sides of airplanes and motocycles, and adorns dashboards, belt buckles and gambling chips across the continent. As a surviving folk Goddess to whom prayers are uttered and under whose aegis spells are conducted by folk who are not otherwise magical or necessarily religious, Fortuna-Lady Luck is an extraordinary spiritual power we'd do well to pay more attention to. In this guise, Fortuna has survived as a living part of Western culture, Lady Luck being the latest link in a golden chain stretching back at least more than 3,500 years. The horseshoe being Her most prevalent aspect (and often Her "throne") along with large breasts, it may be safe to say that this is a living Goddess, not domesticated by the Christian tradition, who has survived for more than 10,000 years with at least five cognate attributes: feminine appearance and title, large breasts, the horseshoe shape, association with chance and association with good luck. I suspect it may also be possible to establish that a maritime tradition of Fortuna tattooing thas existed unbroken since Roman times.

Fortuna is definitely a survivor. She is Master of the Wheel and certainly knows how to position Herself for survival despite profound cultural change. A strong Fortuna allomorph has survived in the Yemeni Jewish festival of Maimun, celebrated on the first day after Passover. Here's a recent editorial from Ha-Eretz about it. To understand more about the history of Fortuna Herself in Israel, read this PDF.

LADY LUCK BLUES
by Bessie Smith

Bad luck has come to stay
Trouble never end
My man has gone away
With a girl I thought was my friend
I'm worried down with care
Lordy, can't you hear my prayer

Lady Luck, Lady Luck
Won't you please smile down on me
There's the time, friend of mine
I need your sympathy
I've got a horseshoe on my door
I've knocked on wood till my hands are sore
Since my man's done turned me loose
I've got those Lady Luck blues, I mean
I've got those Lady Luck blues

Lady Luck, Lady Luck
Won't you please smile down on me
There's the time, friend of mine
I need your sympathy
I've got his picture turned upside down
I've sprinkled goofer dust all around
Since my man is gone I'm all confused
I've got those Lady Luck blues
Find my good man
I've got those Lady Luck blues

http://www.luckymojo.com/ladyluck.html