Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Ten of Wands

My reflections on this tarot card have been prompted by drawing a card for a particular thing earlier this week, of which more anon.
The ten of Wands is one of the few cards which make me sympathise with the view that the Rider-Waite-Smith deck limits possible interpretations by only depicting certain events on the minor arcana cards.
So to flex ones interpretive muscles properly... At their most basic Wands are sticks or tree trunks. They come from the trees which are an essential part of our eco-system, and so provide for our life both when living and after cutting. Most of our uses either mean cutting or burning them: while Wands have the element of Fire attributed to them they become most useful in combination with Air (swords) which naturally increases their use. In many parts of the world they have garnered a great monetary (pentacles) value and yet their usefulness is diminished in the presence of the element of Water, when they begin to deteriorate very quickly. In addition to the uses of burning and building, humans also use them for holding things up or various forms of support, for hitting, and they can contain in the sense of building fences. The RWS image interestingly inverts the Roman image of the fasces, a bundle of rods or Wands denoting authority. If you have watched the state opening of parliament in the UK, you will have seen Black Rod. This use of Wands continues in ceremonial maces, and at further remove, in the 'wands' carried by bishops. I am deliberately downplaying the magical connotations of Wands since I think the meaning of the underlying element is better brought out by the more common uses of Wands. That said the wand often represents will, and if you consider the role 'wands' play in the rest of our lives, the connection between the two becomes apparent.
This tarot card is furthermore the ten (10 = 1+0) of this element or energy. Since ten reduces to one, it is both the utmost point of this energy and the point at which it begins again. I think what is shown in the RWS deck is that this element easily becomes unbearable and this card is the point at which it can't go on. If much of the point of the element is construction or support, this is the moment at which collapse is the only way ahead.
Which brings me nicely to the reading which made me reflect on this. I drew this card for what a friend's day was like. She reads tarot herself and since she had had a quiet day at work she couldn't see how this could refer to her day. The connection only became apparent when her bed collapsed (for the umpteenth time and terminally) in the night and she took it apart to take to the tip. It was only when the bed was reduced to a pile of planks that the connection with the tarot card became apparent!

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