Eight of Wands

Eight staves appear to be flying through the air, descending toward earth.  A peaceful river valley lies in the background.

New ideas and inspirations are literally flying into the subjects life and consciousness.  Perhaps new associates, friends, or business relations which are novel and help to move the subject to greater heights and fresh horizons.  On a mundane level, there is a possibility of air travel associated with the subjects employment.

Reversed:  This is not the time to try out new or untested ideas.  Stay grounded on familiar territory and don’t take risks.  Travel plans may be canceled.

EXAMPLES:  New, cool friends who turn you on to ways of thinking and feeling that you’ve never experienced before.  

Meditating and suddenly seeing beyond what you always thought was reality.

Six of Wands

A man rides a horse through a crowd.  He is robed in purple, wears a laurel crown and carries a stave which is topped with another crown of laurel.  Five people stand aside as he rides by, each one clutching a staff of their own.

A card of victory and success.  Of the multiple people battling in the five of wands, this person has emerged victorious and holds the dominant position.  The cloak he wears signifies authority and command and he is definitely in charge. The laurel crowns tell us that he has won legitimate honors and recognition.  This card can indicate victory in a legal battle or show that the subject’s ideas and view points have launched him or her into a position of authority. Promotions may be indicated.

Reversed:  Approach any conflict with extreme caution.  The subject is not in a position of strength and will lose if he engages in a fight.  Walk away and live to fight another day.

EXAMPLES: Winner.  Think of a person who has used her wits, skill, knowledge and persuasion to emerge as the head of the pack.

Winning an election.

Five of Wands

Five men, crowded together, hold wands aloft.  At first glance this appears to be five people engaged in a fight with staves, a scene right out of the old Robin Hood movies.  Upon closer examination, however, it’s apparent that they are holding the staves one handed rather than in a two handed fighting stance and don’t even seem to be looking at each other.  Indeed, the placement of the wands suggests that they are very close to constructing a pentacle with them.

Difficult negotiations, conflict, struggle, competing ideas fighting for ascendancy.  This is a shift from the previous cards because it shows a group effort, several people working on putting ideas or projects into effect and having strong differences of opinions.  They are literally trying to construct something new by joining their separate ideas together. There will be a tough period to get through but you can still expect a positive outcome at the end.

Reversed:  Walk away from the negotiations, let passions calm down and try again later.  Emotions are getting in the way of ideas and this project isn’t going to work right now.

EXAMPLES:  A large committee or work group composed of people who have wildly different approaches to solving problems and very different ways of thinking.  

A commune where the members are working together but have very different philosophies about life.

Three of Wands

A man wearing a red and green cloak and a circlet around his head stands on a hill or cliff staring out at ships traversing a bay.  He grasps one staff in his right hand and two other staffs are planted firmly in the ground behind him. The sea is placid and emits a golden glow.

The abstract idea or intuition of the Ace of Wands has been brought into being in the material world and is bringing rewards to the subject.  He or she is sending this creativity out into the world and sharing it with others, as represented by the ships setting sail in the harbor. This individual has his back turned and this may indicate a person who is totally absorbed in his ventures to the exclusion of his social life.  On a mundane level, your job may require that you do some traveling.

Reversed: The world may not be ready to accept your new and novel ideas at this time.  Wait until another time or at least slow walk the venture you’re trying to launch.

Examples:  Someone who has worked his or her butt off and is seeing returns on the project.  Think of a person in development and research who has spent hundreds of hours meticulously assembling a product and it’s finally off of the ground and working great.

Publishing a book and seeing the sales continue to go up.

The Two of Wands

An individual draped in a purple cloak stands atop a parapet holding a staff in his left hand and a globe of the world in his right hand.  A second staff is bolted firmly to the stone wall of the castle. The vista stretching out before him appears to be a quiet village next to a bay.

On the most simplistic level, a decision is being made, perhaps about travel or a real estate deal.  The subject may be contemplating relocating. On a deeper level, this is about how to bring the idea in the Ace of Wands into being in the material world.  The royal purple of the cloak shows that this is a person who is firmly in command of the process and the wand fastened to the wall shows that he or she is well grounded emotionally and intellectually.

Reversed:  Delays and hassles in real estate deals or moving.  Perhaps a new venture that is running into unexpected difficulties.  May indicate that the subject needs to delay putting ideas or ventures into effect.

EXAMPLES:  Someone who is very rational and balanced and is carefully moving a project forward step by step.  This is the planner, the detail person who makes things happen.

Designing a complex web site to promote your business.

The Ace of Wands

A ghostly hand reaches out of a cloud and holds a branch like wand.  The wand is living and bears green leaves, some of which are falling through the air.  A peaceful river valley lies in the background with a castle perched atop a small promontory.

A startling, perhaps even earthshaking new idea or insight.  The start of a new venture or enterprise that will take you in a totally different direction.  Perhaps an unexpected phone call or letter that opens up unexpected, positive horizons. The leaves falling from the wand signal benefits that will develop out of the original idea.

Reversed – A new beginning or idea but it may not be the right time to bring it to fruition or it may be poorly received by those around you.  Go back and examine the idea more carefully to see what flaws need to be corrected and what details need to be filled in.

EXAMPLES:  A bolt from the blue.  A flash of inspiration that is so powerful that it knocks you on your ass.  

An artist or writer who suddenly breaks into a whole new style and a higher level of creativity.

Pamela Coleman Smith – The Real Genius Behind the Waite-Rider Tarot Deck

 

The most popular Tarot deck in the world is the Waite-Rider deck, authored by A.E. Waite and published by the Rider Company.  The illustrations in the deck were done by Pamela Coleman Smith and it’s been within recent memory that people have started referring to it as the Waite-Smith deck.  The standard description of it is that the illustrations were prepared by Pamela Coleman Smith, “under the directions of A.E. Waite.”

It might be more accurate to say that the illustrations were prepared by her DESPITE the instructions of A.E. Waite.

 

Pamela_Colman_Smith_

PAMELA COLEMAN SMITH

 

She’s one of the more fascinating people in the history of modern occultism.  She had a wonderful smile and was so tiny that she was nicknamed, “Pixie.” As she was growing up her family shuttled between London, Jamaica, and New York and she spent several years living in Kingston and absorbed much of the Jamaican culture.  Her mother was an artist and she, too, developed artistic talents at an early age and began attending the Pratt Art Institute in New York at the age of 15.

By the age of 21 both of her parents had died and she moved by herself to London where she supported herself working as an illustrator, author, and set designer for theatrical productions.  It was there that she met the poet William Butler Yeats who introduced her A.E. Waite, one of the founding member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Shortly thereafter Waite commissioned her to illustrate his Tarot deck and the rest is history.

But that’s where it really gets interesting.

There have been many, many people who have claimed that they were channeling some sort of a higher power that guided their creativity and, “co-created,” with them.  Painters, sculptors, writers who felt the presence of a greater power than themselves literally telling them what to paint, carve, or write. Some of them talk about spirit guides, others describe the guides as angels, a few might even think that god was talking to them.

It is my strong belief that this is exactly what happened to Pamela Smith when she created the Waite deck.

Consider this:  Smith created ALL 78 cards between April and October of 1909.  That means that for that 6 month period she was pumping out an average of 13 highly complex illustrations a month.  As an artist I can tell you that’s nearly impossible.

There is also strong evidence that Waite may have had fairly precise instructions about the Major Arcana but Smith pretty much invented the illustrations for the Minor Arcana herself, even using some of her close friends as models.  With the sheer volume of illustrations she produced and her admittedly short exposure to occultism, you have to think that those pictures were almost painting themselves.

And, finally, there is the evidence of the nature of A.E. Waite himself.  He was, to put it mildly, one incredibly boring old fart. Shortly after Smith produced the cards Waite published a book called, “The Pictorial Key to the Tarot.”  Here’s just a bit of his definition for the card The Magician:

“With further reference to what I have called the sign of life and its’ connexion with the number 8, it may be remembered that Christian Gnosticism speaks of rebirth in Christ as a change, ‘unto the Ogdoad.’ “

And it gets a lot worse.  Can you imagine having a drink with that guy?

The Waite-Smith tarot deck is truly magical.  Every card is beautiful and tells its’ own unique story.  That magic definitely didn’t flow out of A.E. Waite. It flowed out of the eyes and soul of Pixie.  She was in the groove and some higher force was using her mind and her hands to bring those cards into being.  Aren’t we lucky that happened?