King of Wands: The Leader / Ruler

take your vision out into the world

Kings exercise mastery and leadership in their element + Wands represent our identity and energy, and how we enact our inner flame

from Art History Tarot for Past Lives, by Red Orchid Press

The King of Wands is the master of taking our creative vision out into the world. It may be bold and it may never have been done before, but this king will show us how it’s done, for they are the trailblazer with the drive and the ego to do it; the entrepreneur who likes a good challenge and moves quickly on his intuition. Confident and successful, they’re the natural leader who gets results but may not always be a team player. They will not suffer fools, and grow impatient with those not quick enough for them. They are passionate in their endeavors as long as they are not restricted by demanding colleagues or partners.

In personality typing, each of the kings fits the E/J type of their suit’s Jungian function, and the King of Wands is textbook ENTJ, the idea people who tend to assume leadership roles but can be pushy when putting their ideas forward; the take-charge types who live in a world of challenges to be surmounted, but they need to be the ones surmounting them. Impersonal, their emotional lives are accidental and social lives incidental. As extraverts, they enjoy interactions and appreciate challenging conversation, but don’t like explaining themselves and their dynamic personalities and self-confidence may come off as cold, intimidating, forceful, and authoritative.

(-) In resistance, they lack the drive for competition or achievement, or deny their power, perhaps out of a fear of a lack of expertise.

(+) In excess, their ego’s domineering need to be in charge must not be questioned. They may be grandiose, arrogant, egocentric — even narcissistic. This is the baby king who needs to be the only one shining.

Questions we may be prompted to ask when this card comes up include

  • What role of yours is always in charge? What internal part has this need?
  • Does having power or a leadership role frighten you? Why?
  • Do you fear that you do not have what it takes to enact your vision? What would it take for you to do so?

What else? Court cards are complex and multifaceted, including more than these labels, and you may have other insights. What historic or fictional characters does this king remind you of? What part of yourself is represented, here?

Queen of Wands: The Witch / Pretender

harness your will and direct it

Queens reflect the magic and power of the suit from within + Wands represent the inner fire that sparks our will and identities

from Murder of Crows Tarot

The Queen of Wands is the image of being self-possessed. Their determined nature knows its Will and is straightforward in pursuing it, almost intolerant of doubt; for they know precisely how to use their wand. They embody fire energy in enchanting self-confidence, willfulness, and intuitiveness; standing in their power, knowing who they are, what they desire, and how to get it. They can read the energy in the room and use it to their advantage. Creative and courageous, loyal and supportive, feisty and passionate, their reflection of fire inspires confidence and courage in others. The cat at this queen’s feet in many cards signifies their witchy independence.

In resistance, their self-knowledge is blocked, and a pretender aspect is avoiding their authentic self and projecting a false persona. Or, doubting their own gifts, they suffer imposter syndrome.

In excess, self-assurance and willfulness can turn to self-absorption and pushiness. Their steamy (water of fire) aspect can be objectified sexuality, presented outwardly in the persona of the sex kitten.

Questions we may be prompted to ask when this card appears include

  • In what area are you being called to direct your will? Is this a challenge for you? What prevents you from doing so?
  • When using your gifts, do you feel like an imposter?
  • What is the persona that you project?
  • Whom do you admire for their sense of self, and what part in you responds to that?
  • Do you compensate for self-doubt by objectifying yourself?

What else? Court cards contain so many personas and aspects, and you may have other insights. Who is this queen in your life? What internal part takes on this role? When?

Knight of Wands: The Doer / Thrill-seeker

just do it

Knights take action + Wands represent the spark that drives our actions and our identities

from The Medieval Scapini Tarot

Where the Page was an eager and hopeful beginner, the Knight is more confident. Where the Page embarks on self-exploration or self-development, the Knight is now self-motivated as they direct this energy outward — and the Knight of Wands is motivated to act with the confidence of someone who is comfortable in their identity, the role(s) they’ve chosen for themselves and present to the world in their own style and with all the panache they choose. They are the pioneers; active, vigorous, impatient, passionate, competitive, daring, adventurous, and enthusiastic as they pursue adventure (be it creative or sexual or other), take risks, or compete with others. While those who apply esoteric systems to the cards and assign double elements to the courts usually correlate knights with air, I think that knights take action and the nature of fire is all about action. It’s hot, it’s moving. In this regard, the Knight of Wands is fire of fire. Just do it.

Looking to personality typing, ESTPs live in a world of action. Outgoing, blunt straight-shooters, they’re risk-takers who will plunge right in and get the job done (rules be damned — they are merely guidelines). They look at the facts, decide what to do, take the required action, and move on. Fast-moving fast-talkers, they’re usually a few steps ahead of the rest of us, making it up as they go. With a strong flair for drama and style (even flamboyant — which of course is rooted in the word flame), they love to have fun and are fun to be around. Because their focus is in getting things done, they need to keep moving and will avoid scenarios in which they are restricted or confined.

In resistance, they doubt their actions or feel shame in their identity, denying it or holding back from expressing themselves fully.

In excess, their risk-taking taken to extremes, they’re thrill-seekers drawn to reckless behaviors. (When throwing caution to the wind, keep in mind that air feeds fire!) They may take their showy nature to the extent of being a show-off, or exaggeration to the point of hysteria, out of fear that they’re not measuring up. What do they need to prove? And to whom?

Questions we may be prompted to ask when this card comes up include

  • Does fear or doubt hold you back from taking the action you truly desire?
  • Have you jumped the gun on something? Why did you feel compelled to move so fast?
  • What are you impatient about? Does this present as anger? What fear drives that?
  • Are you uncomfortable expressing the true you? How have you been wounded in doing so?
  • Do you tend to throw caution to the wind? How is that working out for you?

What else? There are many other questions we can ask. We all know a Knight of Wands — who is this person in your life or part in your psyche?

Page of Wands: The Explorer / Dilettante

explore your inner fire

Pages strive to understand + Wands as the inner fire that sparks our actions and identities

from Tarot of the Holy Light

Pages are not outwardly focused but turn their attention toward their (suited) interest, and the Page of Wands examines his wand as if asking where it can take him. In the centered aspect of the card, we are curious, eager, energetic, creative, hopeful, intrigued, inspired, uninhibited, embarking on a new path, exploring a budding interest, pursuing adventure. It shows a quickening of spirit, a joie de vivre. We don’t need to take life so seriously. This is self-growth through following our inner spark.

If we borrow from personality typing, the ISTP is adaptable and spontaneous, busy and adventuresome, and therefore easily bored. Creative doers, they’re often risk-takers, thriving on variety and new experiences. They live in the present and are the independent sort, wary of structure and commitment. They need to do their own thing.

The Tarot of the Holy Light (pictured) depicts the Page of Wands as the Light Bringer and assigns it the Spring Equinox, welcoming longer days. The Light Bringer is unique and highly individuated; not one to copy but instead more Bohemian and independent, perhaps non-conformist. His specialty is finding simple solutions to complex problems.

In resistance, we have no interest in trying new things or identities. Held back by fear of failure or shame or societal expectations, we resist exploring our interest or making a fresh start.

In excess, we are always sampling, never committing. This is the jack of all trades, master of none. There may be a chameleon-like quality, quick to change for each new setting. We may be unpredictable or indiscrimate in our actions or projects. Here, we’re reminded that the H in ADHD may be either hyperfocus or hyperactivity.

Questions we may be prompted to explore when this card comes up include

  • What interest keeps calling you? Why haven’t you answered it?
  • Is there a role you want to step into or try on? What prevents you?
  • Does a fear of failure play a key role in how you express yourself?
  • Have you ever been ridiculed or shamed into abandoning something that inspired you?
  • What did you love to do as a kid but no longer make the time for? Why not?

What else? There are many ways to interpret courts and your insights may differ. What famous or fictional character does this remind you of? How has this card come up for you?

10 of Wands

ask for help or delegate where you can

Ten shows us the full power of the suit as we prepare for a new cycle + Wands represent our energy and how we use it

from Sola Busca Revisited by Tarot by Seven

And so, in the centered aspect of the Ten of Wands, we find ourselves spent. Our determination shows, but we’ve reached the limit of what we can take on and it’s time to ask for help or to delegate some responsibilities. This is unsustainable and it’s time to level up. Perhaps you’ve amassed abundance and can share the wealth by bringing others in to help share the load.

In resistance, we refuse to accept help, struggling under the weight of our burdens but insisting on carrying it all ourselves; or the martyr with the “allow me to suffer the burden” demands for sympathy. Perhaps we’ve acquired an attitude of servitude, content to take on the demands (or baggage) of others.

In excess, we are the workaholic who thrives on being overcommitted, who gets a charge out of having all circuits firing. What is it that we’re actually trying to prove (or avoid)?

Questions we may be prompted to ask when this card comes up include

  • Where do you feel burdened? What or who is holding you down?
  • What do you continue to tolerate?
  • Do you have a hard time saying no? Does a part of you feel guilt? How can you establish better boundaries?
  • Do you feel that you are responsible for taking on all of the roles? Are you afraid to delegate? Why?
  • Are you preventing others their own success?
  • Does perfectionism play a role in your workload?
  • What is it time to purge?
  • Does overcommitting yourself allow you to avoid something else?

What else? This is a loaded card, and you may have other insights. How has it come up for you?

9 of Wands

rest where you can in order to persevere

Nine nears the end of the cycle and we pause for a moment to steady ourselves for culmination + Wands represents our energy and how we use it, our vitality

from Proletariat Tarot

And so, in the centered aspect of the Nine of Wands, we’re approaching completion and take a moment to refresh our stamina. Amid the action of Wands, we rest — weary, but ready to persevere with resolve. This is the survivor; things may be busy or challenging, but it’s important to nourish ourselves in order to endure the final push or try again in anticipation of the challenge or change to come. Remain aware of your surroundings and protect the progress you’ve made, but take a break where you can before the last leg of this journey.

In resistance, we retreat or surrender. Overcome with fatigue or helplessness, we just can’t muster the inner fire.

In excess, we’re overprotective of our wands, perhaps stubbornly distrusting and hyper-vigilant. Paranoid that they will be taken away, we’re unable to relax, not letting our guard down, or clinging to them despite that they no longer serve our needs. In Smith-Waite, the bandage on his head indicates that he’s been through a battle. Was he headstrong and belligerent?

Questions we may be prompted to explore when this card comes up include

  • Is your inner critic telling you to throw in the towel? Whose voice is it? How do you respond?
  • Are you dealing with a battle that’s gone on too long? Are old wounds resurfacing? How can it be resolved?
  • Do you feel alone in this battle?
  • Where do you feel overprotective? What may happen if you let down your guard?
  • Are you in manic mode? Where can you take a rest and recenter?

What else? There are various aspects of this card and you may have different insight. How has it come up for you?

8 of Wands

trust that things are moving swiftly, now

Eight opens up from seven’s stationary hold with new perspective from which to launch or realign + Wands represent our inner fire – energy, passion, and identity

from Paracelsus Dreams Tarot

And so, in its centered and balanced aspect, Eight of Wands reveals a new direction for forward movement, perhaps after a delay or blockage. There can be a sense of excitement with this card. Like an arrow in the air or an express delivery, something is released and it’s moving fast. I think sometimes of blocked Qi in the body– if you’ve ever felt that energy being released by a needle, it’s a powerful feeling and a literal example of the release of energy.

With eights, we may go in one way and come out another, we may not know where it’s going or where it will land, there may be a change of direction; but this card indicates that things are moving and coming into alignment. Allow it to take its course.

In resistance, we remain stuck in delay or neglect. There is a sense of stagnation, rigidity, or being blocked. What prevents us from releasing the arrow?  Perhaps we’re running out of steam.

In excess, we may be overstimulated and ungrounded. When things are going in too many directions, it can feel dizzying and out of alignment. Sometimes, overstimulation can result in meaningless activity. Are we rushing into something? Haste makes waste.

Questions to consider when this card comes up may include

  • Do you feel blocked? When did it start? What part is served by that?
  • What area of life feels sluggish? How can you help it to flow more freely?
  • Are you rushing into something? Why? What consequences could that present?
  • Do you feel overstimulated? Is there a specific area you can harness that energy in or redirect it?
  • Where is your energy focused?

What else? This card can go in different directions, and you may have other insights! How has it come up for you?

7 of Wands

stand firm against adversaries

Seven is a place of internal work around an external situation; we aren’t in motion but are in the midst of activity around us + Wands represent the fiery realm of will and how we use our energy, but also identity

from Deck of the Dead by Tarot by Seven

And so the centered aspect of the Seven of Wands indicates holding our own against adversaries. In the Six of Wands we were victorious, and must now defend our spot. Sometimes, we just need to stick up for ourselves (no pun intended). Your aspirations (or those of others) are worth fighting for, and inherent in this card is the deep inner strength which allows you to remain calm amidst the chaos.

With Wands as creativity and passions, are the staves shown representative of encroaching projects or distractions that throw you off course of your focus? What are you devoting your energy to?  Resisting advances as we stand firm on our hill can help or hinder.

In resistance, we see resignation, timidity. We may feel overpowered.  Do the encroaching wands represent doubts?  Criticism?  The enemy may be ourselves as we stand in defiant opposition to our inner voices.

In excess, we must ask if we’re being overly defensive when openness is called for. Is it time to let our guard down? Is there room on the hill for others?

Questions we may be prompted to ask when this card comes up include

  • Is there something you’re resisting?
  • Do you feel you’re being backed into a corner?
  • Do you need to be more assertive in the matter?
  • Are you being hyper vigilant?  Are there wounded parts to be tended around that?
  • Do you tend to get overdefensive? What prompts that? What protective parts are involved?
  • Is something draining your energy?

What else? This card can indicate various areas of our inner fire, and this only touches the surface. You may have other insights. How has this card come up for you? Feel free to share.

6 of Wands

take pride in victory

Six expands from five’s contraction + Wands represent our fire and identity.

from the Tarot Universal Dali

And so in the centered placement of the Six of Wands, we see both sides of victory. In reaching a goal and receiving acclaim, there are those who have supported you or are looking up to you, inspired. Inherent in all of the sixes is a power dynamic, and it’s important to remember that your current place on top is temporary, so take pride in this glory while you have it and practice non-attachment around being higher or lower than others.

In resistance, we experience self-doubt or imposter syndrome. We may fear jealousy in those around us.

In excess, we must guard against grandiosity (no one likes a show-off!), or taking all of the credit rather than acknowledging those who helped. Hubris.

Questions we may want to consider when this card comes up can include

  • Are you quick to support others but fail to acknowledge your own accomplishments? Can you name achievements you’re proud of?
  • Do you compare yourself to others?
  • Do you hold back from sharing your own work out of fear of being an imposter?

what else? This barely scratches the surface of meaning behind this card, and you may have more insight. How has this card come up for you? Feel free to share.

5 of Wands

establish order out of discord

Five loosens us out of the stability of four by confronting + Wands represents activity and identity.

from the Relative Tarot by Carrie Paris

And so, in the balanced center of the Five of Wands, we are invited to work it out. We may see discord, confusion, disarray, even chaos. There’s a lot going on, but there’s no real order. This card may relate to competition, and reminds us that we must be flexible enough to accommodate challenge yet sturdy enough to remain together in community (which also applies to working with the inner conflict of our parts). Are you involved in organizing others in a cause that you’re passionate about? How can you best organize to ensure that you come out on top?

Lindsay Mack has used the analogy of cleaning out the closet, where you just take everything out and throw it in a jumbled heap on the floor to be reorganized, and that analogy fits across many various applications of this card’s meaning. We may not know what we’re doing or what’s going on, but we’re invited to establish priorities and work our way through it.

In resistance, we refuse to participate in the drama or to play the game. This may serve us well in instances like the various identities involved in office gossip, but can hinder us if we feel overwhelmed by group activities like team sports. What stops you?

In excess, we may be overwhelmed with too many pots on the fire, and sometimes we just need to get out of our own way. Perhaps we thrive on being the crazymaker, creating confusion and conflict for others. What purpose is that serving for us?

Questions to consider when this card comes up may include

  • Where can you prioritize or organize? What gets in the way of your doing so?
  • Where are you competing in your life? Are you playing games?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed? What can you do to step out of that? Is there something you can put on the back burner for a little while?

What else? Lots here to unpack 😉, and you may have different ideas or insight on this card. How has it come up for you? What are some examples of this card’s energies in our lives?