The King of Wands
(The King of Wands card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)**
We haven’t looked at the Court Cards of the Tarot for a while. This month we will return to the Tarot “royals” and get to know the King of Wands. First, we should review some foundational information.
The 78 cards of a Tarot deck consist of 22 Major Arcana cards (dealing with broader and more far-reaching life experience issues, and archetypes that are easy for us to identify with and connect with at some point in our lives) and 56 Minor Arcana cards (customarily grouped into four categories or suits that represent the four elements and dealing with day-to-day issues).
The Court Cards are a part of the Minor Arcana, acting as a representation of the family unit and individually representing particular personality traits of people, places and events in our lives. These cards can also tell us about our own personality, and how it is perceived by others. Thinking of Tarot cards as people, with each card having an individual personality, is particularly appropriate for the Court Cards, as they are the most human of all the cards in a Tarot deck. Even the illustrations for the Court Cards show humans in the majority of Tarot decks.
Instead of numbers, Court Cards have rank. The lowest ranking Court Card is the Page, the messenger or intern or apprentice who is still learning of life and living, but who is also good at dealing with the unexpected. Next comes the Knight, the representation of strong, focused and even excessive manifestations of his suit.
Both the Queen and the King represent mature adults. The Queen manifests her suit in a feminine or yin or inner way, and the King manifests his suit in a masculine or yang or outer way. This manifestation does not necessarily correspond to gender; a man can be represented by a Tarot Queen if he has a strong inner focus, and a woman can be represented by a Tarot King if she projects a strong sense of authority. Since we are talking about the King of Wands today, we already know that our King will manifest his suit in an outer yet mature manner. Our King is concerned with results; he exhibits outer, public expertise in his field, and he is an authority figure. In many ways, the Kings of the Tarot Court can be seen as four facets of The Emperor of the Major Arcana.
Our King’s suit this month is Wands, corresponding with the element of Fire. Besides the element of Fire, the playing card suit of Clubs, and the cardinal direction of South. All of the cards of the suit of Wands teach us about Fiery attributes like creativity, ambition, growth, passion and actions, and how their presence or absence can affect our lives. The suit of Wands represents our ability to experience joy and passion (including sexual passion), and the Wands cards can represent our creativity, our ability to be artistic or to be drawn to beautiful things. Fire often represents Spirit or the Divine Will, and Wands cards also can present the possibility of some interaction with Spirit or the Divine, or actions or passions manifesting in line with Divine Will.
In the Tarot Court, the suit of the card has an elemental correspondence, and the rank of the card has an elemental correspondence. Pages correspond with Earth, Knights correspond with either Air or Fire (depending on the deck), Queens correspond with Water, and Kings correspond with either Air or Fire (depending on the deck). Since we are talking about a King today, we are also talking about the element of Air, or the element of Fire, depending on the deck. For our purposes today, we will see the King of Wands as Fire of Fire.
In its natural state, the element of Fire is hot and dry. It tends to bring spontaneous change or impulsive, energetic effects. Fire transforms everything in our world. Fire can sanitize or cleanse, and it can destroy everything in its path; Fire can warm us and keep us safe, or it can kill us.
The element of Fire can be seen as kinetic, or even electric. It has the power to create greatness (when we are inspired to be better than we think we can be), or destruction (when we believe we are greater than we actually are). Fire fuels innovation, but an imbalance or lack of Fire can bring austerity.
Like the other cards of the Tarot, Court Cards have astrological correspondences. Our King of Wands corresponds with the cusp or joining point of the signs of Cancer and Leo.
Cancer is responsive, emotional and generous, but also is moody, insecure or sensitive, and is often affected by the environment and people nearby. Those born under the sign of Cancer, the 4th sign of the zodiac, tend to experience strong feelings and emotions, and they are very protective of those feelings and emotions. Cancer people tend to be very attuned to the past, and like to have mementos of the times and people of their childhood. Cancer people place a high importance on family, both family of the blood and family of the heart, and nurture and protect those they love. Cancer people are hard workers, and that paycheck is important not only for what it will buy, but also for the security it provides.
Leo is the 5th sign of the zodiac, located in the middle of Summer. The symbol of Leo is the Lion, regal and strong, magnetic and forceful. Leos are determined, ambitious, and highly motivated; add in their charm and they are natural leaders who attract many friends. They make good organizers and motivators, and the best use of a Leo is as the leader of a large group. Leo is the most expressive sign in the zodiac, and those born under this sign are showmen who are exuberant and passionate, but they are also susceptible to flattery.
Cancer and Leo are ruled by elements, planets, and traits that are not similar. Cancer is a cardinal water sign ruled by the moon, and Leo is a fixed fire sign ruled by the sun. Cancer is considered to be quite sensitive and docile, but can survive and even manipulate. Leo is considered to be powerful and dominant, but can move from roaring to purring if treated in the right manner. Thus, this cusp can manifest an interesting set of personality traits, such as the memory of an elephant, a comfort with being the center of drama, being driven by high ambitions and the need to achieve something bigger than oneself. Love, devotion, family, and loyalty form an integral aspect of both of these signs, and is a strong part of this cusp.
Because they are Minor Arcana cards, Court Cards also correspond with a sephira on the Tree of Life. The Kings correspond with the sephira of Chokmah, along with all of the Twos of the Minor Arcana and the element of Fire. The Kings sit at the top of the Pillar of Force in the sephira of Chokmah, representing the Sacred Masculine and the Catalyst of Life. Chokmah is seen as dynamic thrust, the Ultimate Positive, the Great Stimulator and the Great Fertilizer (one of the symbols of Chokmah is the penis), and thus is connected to the Wheel of the Year. The energies of this sephira represent dynamic male energy and are the origin of vital force and polarity.
The Llewellyn Welsh King of Wands shows a mature man sitting on a throne, holding a Wand with green leaves sprouting and ribbons blowing. This card is about status, honor, and personal achievement that not only brings material success, but also contributions related to the arts, the sciences or to quality of life. In this card there is the passion of the Knight, however there is stability to balance out that passion, allowing the achievement of a position of influence and of satisfaction.
In the Thoth Tarot, the Kings are known as Knights (the Knights are called Princes in this deck), and Crowley sees the Knight (King) of Wands as being the strongest of the Court Cards. In “Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot,” DuQuette describes the Knight (King) of Wands as like “. . . riding a rocket, and that can be very risky. If the rocket isn’t aimed properly, he or she misses the target. If there is not enough fuel, he or she crashes. If there is too much fuel, the person explodes. But if everything goes well, it is the most spectacular of successes.” I could not describe the powerful yet risky energies of this card in a better way.
The Naked Tarot describes the King of Wands as someone you either admire or envy, someone whose charisma and confidence draw others like a moth to a flame. The King of Wands is compelled to accomplish something meaningful with his life, and thus he is appalled and enraged by dishonesty and incompetence. This King thrives on challenges and handles stress with ease, and can’t be bought or lured from his chosen path. His beneficial traits are an interest in self-growth and personal advancement, a fascination with the ideas, inventions and achievements of others, the courage to try new things, and the ability to use constructive criticism to bring progress. His detrimental traits are a tendency to do too much, to offend others (either accidentally or on purpose), and to be a control freak.
The Legacy of the Divine King of Wands stands, glowing scepter in his hands, before a fire that is contained and controlled. His passion is idealistic, and his intellect strengthens his will. His gift is leadership, and his self-confidence and charisma are tempered by his need to nurture and protect his loved ones.
The Kings of the Tarot Court tend to be proactive, and the King of Wands is the most proactive of them all. He comes up with valuable ideas, but he also initiates the manifestation of the ideas of others. He is open to hearing challenges to his own ideas; indeed he often sees those challenges as opportunities. The King of Wands expects to be obeyed; he may ask for courage, boldness, and commitment, and expect innovation and generosity and the taking of responsibility from others, but he will ask the same things of himself.
Yes, the King of Wands can tend toward arrogance and rudeness, egotism and a tendency to be a despot, but he can also be a wise and loving father, a visionary who inspires others to enthusiasm, and a mentor with a powerful ability to motivate others to be the best they can be. The King of Wands makes his own luck, and he tells us that we can make our own luck, too!
About the Author:
Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher. Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.