This is a multi-part series intended to help folks recognize the Minor Arcana in their day-to-day lives. In this piece we look at the Two of Wands. I’ll generally base my interpretations off Pamela Colman Smith’s illustrations in the Smith-Waite or Rider-Waite deck.
Here at the beginning of Spring we get an opportunity to work with the 2, 3, and 4 of Wands. Many groups have associated Tarot and Astrology. One school of thinking connects the Minor Arcana with the decans of the signs. The Decans are 3 divisions within each astrological sign based on the degrees; Decan 1 is 1º-10º, Decan 2 is 11º-20º, and Decan 3 is 21º-30º (For more information, check out Austin Coppock.)
As we move through the Wands, we will encounter Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius, the three Fire signs of the zodiac. The Aces of the suits represent the elemental powers themselves. Aries is the first Fire sign, and so we assign its decans to the 2, 3, and 4 of the suit.
In Tarot, the suit of Wands is often considered to be the suit of Fire.
This suit is where we take a look at issues around our ego, character, and drive. This is where our passion and lust comes through. And we also face our anger here. We look at the roles we play in our lives. This is also the suit that addresses our Will, and what we came here to do in this lifetime. For example, from Ace through 10, we ask ourselves, “Am I going to be a firefighter, or a ballet dancer, or a hobo…?” and we try on a bunch of hats and ways of living. In contrast, from Page to King, we ask ourselves, “Regardless of what I’m doing, what am I Doing? What is the point of my life? What is my trail I need to blaze?”
Aries itself connects to The Emperor card (for more on that card check out The Emperor of Spring.) This is an archetype who represents the pioneer or vanguard in all of us. The Minor Arcana connected to it are the real world elements of how we will begin to “blaze our trail” in our own lives.
*For even more Fire, check out:
Harvesting Lughnasadh Symbols in the Tarot – Leo/Strength
Temperance: Working With the Void of Yule – Sagittarius/Temperance
Two of Wands
In the Two of Wands, we have begun to consider ourselves in relation to a new concept that we have received from the Aces. We consciously acknowledge it, and we affirm, grasp or join with the thing. In this card, we see a person gripping a wand in one hand and a globe in the other.
Thinking about The Emperor card, we see here a person who is trying on the idea of exploring new roles or new pathways leading to their personal “empire.” We even see a bright red hat on their head. Red is usually associated with Fire and Will in Tarot. And, it’s also sort of reminiscent of a crown or the turret at the top of a tower. The rest of their clothing screams Aries, the Emperor, and Fire, right down to the burgundy cloak of the Emperor. Everything here is almost like a costume or an homage to the ideas in the Emperor Card.
Also, just like the Emperor, in the Two of Wands we see a person is holding a staff in one hand and a globe in the other.
This person is looking at the whole full world of possibilities and potentials and considering what direction they might go. However, the objects switched places. This persons’ scope of just how big the situation truly is and what steps need to be taken is clearly off. Further, their naivety around what it genuinely requires to be Emperor is showing, as they think they can grasp the whole situation in one go and just hold a big stick and look serious and that will get stuff done. But sometimes we need to “not sweat the small stuff,” we need to not know how hard something actually is if we are going to get over our fears of leaving the comfort of the known and head out into the unexplored.
Another example of this is down in the bottom left corner of this card. We see a small design on the wall; two roses and two lilies. Consider where else see this combination of flowers; on only two other cards, The Magician and Hierophant. The person in the card doesn’t seem to notice it, or at least from their angle can’t really see it. Something about what we are to embark upon in this process is Holy. It is connected both to our magical capacity as a creator and our “dominion” or mastery of the Earthly plane and ability to rally forces to our Will. But for now, we can’t really think about that part. We need just to grab a sturdy walking stick and head out.
Look at how Pamela Coleman Smith represents the suit of Wands in this card. It tells us a lot about what we are experiencing here.
One staff is bolted to the wall. The other staff is being held upright. Neither wand can stand on its own. Think of a walking staff as a tool that helps a person walk, or a wand that helps direct energe. We see these two wands needing reinforcement. In other words, at the twos stage, these new adventures, new sense of self, still needs some help and guidance. It’s not fully formed yet.
And, we’re not sure if we’re really ready to “be King”. This person is standing safely behind a wall, and from the looks of it, a wall someone else built and maintains. This person is looking out at the world beyond. We aren’t engaging our power here, we are considering what it might be like to take control.
As we move from 2 to 3 to 4, we see the sky turn from gray to dark yellow then bright yellow.
But in the Two of Wands, the sky is grey because it is foggy. The past and our surroundings hold heavy influence over us in this card. We are relying on our wisdom and our lived experiences. Our brain says, “stay home, it’s safer here, plus what’s new under the Sun?” We have to shut down our cynicism actively. Further, we must stoke the fires of curiosity if we are going to engage the unknown and find something new.
This is in sync with our attitudes at the start of Aries season; it’s Spring! What better time to throw some seeds in the ground and try something new? However, we won’t have any real success from up here in the castle. Hence, we need to get down into the real world and get our hands dirty.
Next, the THREE OF WANDS…
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