The Five of Wands is almost painful to look at. All of that conflict! All of that fighting! All of those guys whacking each other with their staves!
Except, they’re not.
If you look a little more closely at the Five of Wands you see that NO ONE is getting hit. Not one single staff has landed on one single head. Look a little closer and you see that they’re all holding their staves with one hand, which is a little awkward for close quarter combat, right?
So what the hell’s going on here?
When you stand back and get a little perspective on the painting you can see that the staves are actually starting to form a pattern as they’re being waved around in the air. One side of a pentacle is forming and we can assume the other side is coming eventually.
Wands, of course, represent ideas or ambitions and pentacles are possessions or earth based manifestations. The short hand on this card is that a variety of ideas are coming together and will manifest into a single, material form.
We might call this, “co-creation by committee.” Or more accurately, co-creation by ego.
Ego gets a bad rap a certain extent of the time. Aside from being that distracting voice that won’t shut the hell up when we’re trying to meditate, there are some things that ego is very good at doing. Ego is great for making out grocery lists, or remembering to change the oil in the car, or paying the bills on time. Ego is not only good at planning for the future, ego can plan six or seven possible futures simultaneously AND be obsessed with the past while it’s doing that.
One thing that ego is NOT good at, though, is co-creation. It’s almost as if acknowledging that someone else might have a better idea is a threat to ego’s very existence.
As Eckhart Tolle said in “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose,”
“There is nothing that strengthens the ego more than being right. . . For you to be right, of course, you need someone else to be wrong, and so the ego loves to make wrong in order to be right. . . Being right places you in a position of imagined moral superiority in relation to the person or situation that is being judged and found wanting. It is that sense of superiority the ego craves and through which it enhances itself.”
And when you put a group of people in a room together, all of whom are convinced that they’re right and everyone else is wrong, you end up with the Five of Wands. They’re not just waving their wands around, they’re waving their egos around. They’re not TOUCHING each other, not synthesizing each others creativity into a real group effort and so it’s very difficult to bring a coherent, complete vision out of the gathering.
Real co-creation requires that we step out of our egos for awhile and actually listen to other people’s ideas and inspirations. That we operate as equals and acknowledge that each person brings valuable gifts to the table.
There was a very popular book written by Thomas Anthony Harris in the 1960s called, “I’m Okay, You’re Okay.” The premise of the book was that we’re all on equal footing spiritually, no one is a superior or an inferior. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross flipped it a little and said, “I’m not okay, you’re not okay, and that’s okay.”
Either way you look at it, THAT’S the point where we start to have real co-creation with other people. When we leave the ego by the door to guard the umbrellas and actually listen to each other.