Tarot 101, My Way – Court Cards: The Wands Court

The members of the Wands court are the “doers” of tarot royalty. In business settings they personify the risk-taking entrepreneurs and adventurers, in social terms the  “movers and shakers” who can be more style than substance. They symbolize the human qualities of ambition, enthusiasm, enterprise, initiative, inspiration, excitement, boldness, opportunism – in short, just about any attribute that embraces vigorous and spirited self-expression. They can be long on daring and short on planning; they tend to live “in the moment, and neither the past nor the future has much of a hold on them. They burn hot and fast, and don’t linger after the thrill wears off. They can be the “life of the party” one minute and “MIA” the next, getting an activity moving and then wandering off to the next enticement before the paint is dry on the old one. Their sense of commitment is sincere but not necessarily deep or enduring; go have a beer with one but don’t expect  a meaningful connection. There are a lot of clichés that fit: “flash in the pan,” “Good-time Charlie,” “fairweather friend,” “here today, gone tomorrow,” “fun while it lasted,” “larger than life;” any number of popular songs have lamented the type.

As before, I will start each segment with quotes from Liber T, The Pictorial Key to the Tarot and The Book of Thoth; this time I will cover all four court cards in each post. The approach will be to discuss the three main ways in which a court card can manifest in a reading: as another person (or other people) involved in the querent’s affairs or soon to be encountered; as behaviors or attitudes the querent should either adopt or avoid; and/or as impersonal forces currently influencing or about to enter the matter.

The Court Cards: The King of Wands

Titles (only the Golden Dawn and Thoth systems assign titles):

Fire of Fire; The Lord of the Flame and the Lightning; The King of the Spirits of Fire

Commentary:

Golden Dawn “Liber T” (S.L. Mathers):

“He is active, generous, fierce, sudden and impetuous. If ill-dignified he is evil-minded, cruel, bigoted, brutal.”

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot (A.E. Waite):

“The card always signifies honesty, and may mean news concerning an unexpected heritage to fall in before very long. Generally favorable; may signify a good marriage.”

The Book of Thoth (Aleister Crowley):

“The moral qualities appropriate to this figure are activity, generosity, fierceness, impetuosity, pride, impulsiveness, swiftness in unpredictable actions. If he fails in his first effort, he has no recourse.”

Discussion:

As a person involved in the situation, this card can show a mature individual who radiates self-confidence and instills trust in others through his positive nature, boundless energy and commanding presence. His main flaw is that he doesn’t have much “staying power” and can burn out or lose interest rather quickly.

As an attitude or behavior of the seeker, it advises being forthright and fair-minded in all things connected with the matter. Be careful not to dismiss the legitimate input of others in favor of one’s own entirely self-centered viewpoint or agenda. Take the time to think through the consequences of intended actions and don’t go off “half-cocked.”

As an impersonal influence upon one’s circumstances, it can show things moving quickly and energetically but somewhat fitfully, perhaps without much real sense of direction or purpose. It can invite well-meaning but insensitive action that can border on unintended manipulation.

The Court Cards: The Queen of Wands

Titles:

Water of Fire; The Queen of the Thrones of Flame

Commentary:

Golden Dawn “Liber T” (S.L. Mathers):

“Adaptability, steady force applied to an object. Steady rule; great attractive power, power of command, yet liked notwithstanding. Kind and generous when not opposed. If ill-dignified, obstinate, revengeful, domineering, tyrannical and apt to turn suddenly against another without a cause.”

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot (A.E. Waite):
“Wands . . . is a suit of life and animation. Emotionally and otherwise, the Queen’s personality corresponds to that of the King, but is more magnetic. A good harvest, which may be taken in several senses.”

The Book of Thoth (Aleister Crowley):

“The characteristics of the Queen are adaptability, persistent energy, calm authority which she knows how to use to enhance her attractiveness. She is kindly and generous but impatient of opposition. She has immense capacity for friendship and for love, but always on her own initiative.”

Discussion:

As a person involved in the situation, it’s probably fair to say that the Queen of Wands is the most magnetic of all the tarot matriarchs. While she can be engagingly agreeable, one key thing about her is that she is absolutely intolerant of opposition, and can become impatient or abusive if contradicted. She can be vivacious and charming when it suits her purpose, relentlessly scornful when crossed. Her dominant qualities are well-stated in the Crowley quote, to which should be added pride, contagious enthusiasm, lucidity and steadiness. She can be a loyal, rock-steady friend and a remorseless enemy.

As an attitude or behavior of the seeker, it advises maintaining an even temper in all things, avoiding tantrums and mean-spirited grudges. The gracious side of the Queen’s personality should be kept to the forefront unless serious wrong has been done, in which case a swift, clean retaliatory strike is better than harboring corrosive resentment.

As an impersonal influence upon one’s circumstances, it can show a period of friendly discourse and social stimulation, with an undercurrent of watchful self-interest keeping the lid on too much superficial congeniality.

The Court Cards: The Knight/Prince of Wands

Titles:

Air of Fire; The Prince of the Chariot of Fire

Commentary:

Golden Dawn “Liber T” (S.L. Mathers):

“Swift, strong, hasty, rather violent, yet just and generous, noble and scorning meanness. If ill-dignified, cruel, intolerant, prejudiced and ill-natured.”

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot (A.E. Waite):

“Departure, absence, flight, emigration. Alienation.”

The Book of Thoth (Aleister Crowley):

“The moral qualities appropriate to this figure are swiftness and strength. But he is sometimes inclined to act on impulse, sometimes easily led by external influences; sometimes, especially in trifles, a prey to indecision. His character is intensely noble and generous. He may be an extravagant boaster. His sense of humour is omnivorous. His courage is fantastically strong, and his endurance indefatigable. One of his greatest faults is pride; meanness and pettiness of any kind he holds in infinite scorn. When this card is badly dignified, the character degenerates . . . he may be intolerant, prejudiced and idle – principally because it saves saves trouble.”

Discussion:

As a person involved in the situation, this is the classic “Good-time Charlie,” the easy-going “life of the party.” He may not have a serious bone in his body, and can’t be bothered with too many details. As a hopeless romantic, he can be naive and “wear his heart on his sleeve.” If he can be convinced to buckle down and apply himself, his capacity for work is prodigious. But he can be difficult to pin down to a formal commitment since he has trouble making up his mind and sticking to it. He will be a reliable friend as long as he can see the fun in it, but doesn’t like getting bogged down in the heavier sentiments of loyalty and trust. Otherwise, he can quickly lose interest; “Here today, gone tomorrow” could easily be his motto.

As an attitude or behavior of the seeker, this card advises keeping things “on the light side,” staying flexible and lively. Being alert for and wary of manipulation by others would be a good idea. Straightforward initiatives with clear goals and few complications are more likely to succeed than ponderous endeavors requiring greater persistence. Restlessness and compulsive “change for its own sake” are possible.

As an impersonal influence upon one’s circumstances, it can show an opportunity to “get away from it all.” Good times are implied, but they may come and go rapidly, so enjoying the “pleasures of the moment” is encouraged.

The Court Cards: The Page/Princess of Wands

Titles:

Earth of Fire; Princess of the Shining Flame – The Rose of the Palace of Fire

Astrological Correspondence:

The northwest quadrant of the zodiac, comprising the signs of Cancer, Leo and Virgo

Commentary:

Golden Dawn “Liber T” (S.L. Mathers):

“Brilliance, courage, beauty, force, sudden in anger or love, desire of power, enthusiasms, revenge.”

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot (A.E. Waite):

“. . . faithful(ness), a lover, an envoy, a postman.” Possibly “a dangerous rival.” May indicate “strange tidings.”

The Book of Thoth (Aleister Crowley):

“The character of the Princess is extremely individual. She is brilliant and daring. In anger or love, she is sudden, violent and implacable. She is ambitious and aspiring, full of enthusiasm which is often irrational. She never forgets an injury, and the only quality of patience to be found in her is the patience with which she lies in ambush to avenge. Ill-dignified, shews the defects of these qualities . . . cruel, unreliable, faithless and domineering.”

Discussion:

As a person involved in the situation, the aphorism “Out with the old, in with the new” describes the chief influence of this card. “A new broom always sweeps clean” is another apt expression. Exacting and imperious in equal measure, such a person makes a dangerous adversary, an unpredictable ally and an especially difficult boss. It can be impossible to know exactly where one stands in such a relationship, since mood-swings and prickliness are par for the course. The Pages can indicate the arrival of a message, but in this case the message may simply be “You’re outta here!”

As an attitude or behavior of the seeker, the homily “Patience is a virtue” provides constructive counterpoint to the above. The better qualities of this card – individuality, ambition, aspiration, enthusiasm, courage, daring – should be carefully cultivated and its more problematic overtones of ruthless directness and vindictiveness should be constrained.

As an impersonal influence upon one’s circumstances, it can show an invigorating but also unsettling wave of radical change sweeping across the seeker’s immediate environment. Matching speeds with that wave in order to successfully “ride its crest” is the main challenge. There may be a period of irritability and feeling “put-upon” by reversals of fortune.

I have an earlier series of posts titled “Court Card Thumbnails” from which the text of this study material was lifted verbatim, so there is no need to link them here. There are a number of more general essays on the court cards that may be of interest; search on “Courts” in the “Select Category” drop-down menu on the home page.

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