Part of the Thoth Tarot series.
Wands are one of the suits in the Thoth Tarot deck.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes are from Aleister Crowley's The Book of Thoth.
|Table of contents|
The Court Cards
Knight of Wands
- Title: The Lord of the Flame and the Lightning. The King of the Spirits of Fire.
- Astrology: 20° Scorpio to 20° Sagittarius, including part of Hercules
- Element: The fiery part of Fire
- Tree of Life: The Path of Shin
- Description: "He is a warrior in complete armour. On his helmet for a crest he wears a black horse. In his hand he bears a flaming torch; a flame also in his mantle; and upon the flames does he ride. His steed is a black horse leaping."
- Interpretation: "The moral qualities appropriate to this figure are activity, generosity, fierceness, impetuosity, pride, impulsiveness, swiftness in unpredictable actions. If wrongly energized, he is evil-minded, cruel, bigoted and brutal. He is in either case ill-fitted to carry on his action; he has no means of modifying it according to circumstances. If he fails in his first effort, he has no resource...The Querent is advised to be apprehensive, yet cool, resolute and energetic: to beware of untimely action, but to go forward with tense confidence in his own ability."
Queen of Wands
- Title: The Queen of the Thrones of Flame
- Astrology: 20° Pisces to 20° Aries, including part of Andromeda
- Element: The watery part of Fire
- Tree of Life: The Path of Mem
- Description: "Her crown is topped with the winged globe and rayed with flame. Her long red golden hair flows down upon her armour of scaled mail. She is seated upon a throne of flame, ordered into geometrical light by her material power. Beneath the throne the surging flames are steady. She bears a wand in her left hand; but it is topped with a cone suggestive of the mysteries of Bacchus. She is attended by a couchant leopard upon whose head she lays her hand. Her face expresses the ecstasy of one whose mind is well in-drawn to the mystery borne beneath her bosom."
- Interpretation: "The characteristics of the Queen are adaptability, persistent energy, calm authority which she knows how to use to enhance her attractiveness. She is kindly and generous, but impatient of opposition. She has immense capacity for friendship and for love, but always on her own initiative. There is as much pride in this card as in the Knight, but it lacks the spontaneous nobility which excuses that error. It is not true pride, but self-complacent vanity and even snobbery. The other side of her character is that she may have a tendency to brood, come to a wrong decision thereon, and react with great savagery. She may be easily deceived; then she is likely to shew herself stupid, obstinate, tyrannical. She may be quick to take offence, and harbour revenge without good cause. She might turn and snap at her best friends without intelligible excuse. Also, when she misses her bite, she breaks her jaw!"
Prince of Wands
- Title: The Prince of the Chariot of Fire
- Astrology: 20° Cancer to 20° Virgo, including most of Leo Minor
- Element: The airy part of Fire
- Tree of Life: The Path of Aleph
- Description: "He is a warrior in complete arrnour of scale mail, but his arms are bare on account of his vigour and activity. He wears a rayed crown surmounted by a lion's head winged, and from this crown depends a curtain of flame. On his breast is the sigil of To Mega Therion. In his left hand he bears the Phoenix wand of the Second Adept, the wand of Power and Energy, while with his other arm he reins the lion which draws his chariot, the chariot which is fortified by a wheel radiating flame. He rides upon a sea of flames, both waved and salient."
- Interpretation: "The moral qualities appropriate to this figure are swiftness and strength. But he is sometimes inclined to act on impulse; sometimes easily led by external influences; sometimes, especially in trifles, a prey to indecision. He is often violent, especially in the expression of an opinion, but he does not necessarily hold the opinion about which he is so emphatic. He states a vigorous proposition for the sake of stating it. He is in fact very slow to make up his mind thoroughly on any subject, but always sees both sides of every question. He is essentially just, but always feels that justice is not to be attained in the intellectual world. His character is intensely noble and generous. He may be an extravagant boaster, while slyly laughing both at the object of his boast and at himself for making it. He is romantic, especially in matters of history and tradition, to the point of folly, and may engineer "stunts" or play elaborate practical jokes. He might select some inoffensive nobody, and pursue him for years with every weapon of ridicule) as Swift tormented the unhappy Partridge, all without the least animus, ready to give the shirt off his back, should his victim be in need. His sense of humour is omnivorous, and may make him a mysterious figure, dreaded without reason by people who actually know nothing about him but his name—as a symbol of Terror. This is due to the influence of the last decan of Cancer upon this card. One of his greatest faults is pride; meanness and pettiness of any kind he holds in infinite scorn. His courage is fanatically strong, and his endurance indefatigable. He is always fighting against odds, and always wins in the long-the very long-run. This is principally due to his enormous capacity for work, which he exercises for its own sake, "without lust of result"; perhaps his haughty contempt for the world at large—which however coexists with profound and ecstatic respect for "every man and every woman" as "a star"—is responsible for this. When this card is badly dignified, the character degenerates. Each of the qualities mentioned above is found in its antithesis. There is great cruelty in him, partly sadistic and partly due to callousness arising from indifference—and, in a sense, laziness! So too he may be intolerant, prejudiced and idle—principally because it saves trouble. He may furthermore be an empty boaster and a great coward."
Princess of Wands
- Title: The Princess of the Shining Flame. The Rose of the Palace of Fire.
- Astrology: Rules one Quadrant of Heavens round North Pole
- Element: The earthy part of Fire
- Tree of Life: The Path of 32-bis
- Description: "The Princess is...shewn with the plumes of justice streaming like flames from her brow; and she is unclothed, shewing that chemical action can only take place when the element is perfectly free to combine with its partner. She bears a wand crowned with the disk of the Sun; and she is leaping in a surging flame which re-calls by its shape the letter Yod."
- Interpretation: "This card may be said to represent the dance of the virgin priest ess of the Lords of Fire, for she is in attendance upon the golden altar ornamented with rams' heads) symbolizing the fires of Spring. The character of the Princess is extremely individual. She is brilliant and daring. She creates her own beauty by her essential vigour and energy. The force of her character imposes the impression of beauty upon the beholder. In anger or love she is sudden, violent, and implacable. She consumes all that comes into her sphere. She is ambitious and aspiring, full of enthusiasm which is often irrational. She never forgets an injury, and the only quality of patience to be found in her is the patience with which she lies in ambush to avenge. Such a woman, ill-dignified, shews the defects of these qualities. She is superficial and theatrical, completely shallow and false, yet without suspecting that she is anything of the sort, for she believes entirely in herself, even when it is apparent to the most ordinary observer that she is merely in the spasm of mood. She is cruel, unreliable, faithless and domineering."
The Small Cards
Ace of Wands
- Title: The Root of the Powers of Fire
- Tree of Life: Kether
- Description: A phallic, flaming torch made of ten "yods" in the formation of the Tree of Life, with lightning shooting out in all directions.
- Interpretation: "This card represents the essence of the element of fire in its inception...It is the primordial Energy of the Divine manifesting in Matter, at so early a stage that it is not yet definitely formulated as Will" (188). "It symbolizes Force—strength, rush, vigour, energy, and it governs, according to its nature, various works and questions... It implies Natural, as opposed to Invoked, Force." (LXXVIII)
Two of Wands
- Title: Dominion (The Lord of Dominion)
- Astrology: Mars in Aries
- Tree of Life: Chokmah
- Description: "The pictorial representation is two Dorjes crossed. The Dorje is the Tibetan symbol of the thunderbolt, the emblem of celestial Power, but more in its destructive than its creative form... Six flames issue from the centre. This indicates the influence of the Sun, who is exalted in Aries." (189).
- Interpretation: "This card, pertaining to Chokmah in the suit of Fire, represents the Will in its most exalted form. It is an ideal Will, independent of any given object...This is the creative Will." (189). It "represents the energy of fire; fire in its best and highest form" (177). "Strength, domination, harmony of rule and of justice. Boldness, courage, fierceness, shamelessness, revenge, resolution, generous, proud, sensitive, ambitious, refined, restless, turbulent, sagacious withal, yet unforgiving and obstinate...Influence over others, authority, power, dominion" (LXXVIII).
Three of Wands
- Title: Virtue (The Lord of Established Strength)
- Astrology: Sol in Aries
- Tree of Life: Binah
- Description: Three yellow rods crownd with white lotus flowers. Behind them is a field of flames and a ten-rayed white starburst.
- Interpretation: "This card refers to Binah in the suit of Fire, and so represents the establishment of primeval Energy. The Will has been transmitted to the Mother, who conceives, prepares, and gives birth to, its manifestation... The meaning is harmonious, for this is the beginning of Spring. For this reason one sees the wand taking the form of the Lotus in blossom. The Sun has enkindled the Great Mother." From LXXVIII: "Established force, strength, realization of hope. Completion of labour. Success after struggle. Pride, nobility, wealth, power, conceit. Rude self-assumption and insolence. Generosity, obstinacy, etc."
Four of Wands
- Title: Completion (The Lord of Perfected Work)
- Astrology: Venus in Aries
- Tree of Life: Chesed
- Description: Four red wands crossing in the middle, with flames erupting out of their junction, and the ends headed by a Ram (representing Aries) on one end and a Dove (representing Venus) on the other, which fall on the rim of a yellow circle.
- Interpretation: "Being below the Abyss, it is the Lord of all manifested active Power. The original Will of the Two has been transmitted through the Three, and is now built up into a solid system: —Order, Law, Government...one cannot establish one's work without tact and gentleness...In the symbol, the ends of the wands touch a circle, showing the completion and limitation of the original work...there is no intention to increase the scope of the original Will. But this limitation bears in itself the seeds of disorder." From LXXVIII: "Perfection or completion of a thing built up with trouble and labour. Rest after labour, subtlety, cleverness, beauty, mirth, success in completion. Reasoning faculty, conclusions drawn from previous knowledge. Unreadiness, unreliable and unsteady through over-anxiety and hurriedness of action. Graceful in manner, at times insincere, etc.."
Five of Wands
- Title: Strife (The Lord of Material Trouble)
- Astrology: Saturn in Leo
- Tree of Life: Geburah
- Description: Three wands cross: in the fore is the Wand of the Adept, with two wands of the "Second, or Major Adept", headed by a phoenix, and a pare of wands of the "Third, or Minor, Adept," tiped by the lotus. Ten flames shoot forth from their junction.
- Interpretation: "...a purely active force. It is ruled also by Saturn and Leo. Leo shows the element of Fire at its strongest and most balanced. Saturn tends to weigh it down and to embitter it. There is no limit to the scope of this volcanic energy...authority is derived from the superiors; were it not so, this card would be thoroughly disastrous...idea of destruction (or rather purgation) through fire, and the resurrection of the energy from its ashes....One of the most difficult doctrines with regard to Geburah is that, while it represents all this tameless irrational energy and disturbance, yet it derives from the benign and gentle influence of the feminine." From LXXVIII "Violent strife and boldness, rashness, cruelty, violence, lust, desire, prodigality and generosity; depending on whether the card is well or ill dignified."
Six of Wands
- Title: Victory (The Lord of Victory)
- Astrology: Jupiter in Leo
- Tree of Life: Tiphareth
- Description: "...the Three Wands of the Three Adepts are now orderly arranged; and the flames themselves, instead of shooting out in all directions, burn steadily as in lamps."
- Interpretation: "Energy in completely balanced manifestation...The reference is also to Jupiter and Leo, which seems to imply a benediction on the harmony and beauty of this arrangement...This [card] shows the stabilization of the Energy, and its reception and reflection by the Feminine. There is no circle to enclose the system. It is self-supporting, like the Sun." From LXXVIII: "Victory after strife: Love: pleasure gained by labour: carefulness, sociability and avoiding of strife, yet victory therein: also insolence, and pride of riches and success, etc. The whole dependent on the dignity."
Seven of Wands
- Title: Valour (The Lord of Valour)
- Astrology: Mars in Leo
- Tree of Life: Netzach
- Description: "The pictorial representation shows the fixed and balanced wands of the last card relegated to the background, diminished, and become commonplace. In front is a large crude uneven club, the first weapon to hand; evidently unsatisfactory in ordered combat. The flames are dispersed, and seem to attack in all directions without systematic purpose."
- Interpretation: "The army has been thrown into disorder; if victory is to be won, it will be by dint of individual valour—a 'soldier's battle'." From LXXVIII: "Possible victory, depending on the energy and courage exercised; valour; opposition, obstacles and difficulties, yet courage to meet them; quarrelling, ignorance, pretence, and wrangling, and threatening; also victory in small and unimportant things: and influence upon subordinates."
Eight of Wands
- Title: Swiftness (The Lord of Swiftness)
- Astrology: Mercury in Sagittarius
- Tree of Life: Hod
- Description: "The pictorial representation of the card shows the Light-wands turned into electrical rays, sustaining or even constituting Matter by their vibrating energy. Above this restored universe shines the rainbow; the division of pure light, which deals with maxima, into the seven colours of the spectrum, which exhibit interplay and correlation...It will be noted that there are no flames; they have all been taken up into the wands to turn them into rays. On the other hand, the electric energy has created intelligible geometrical form."
- Interpretation: "[This card] refers to the phenomena of speech, light, electricity...This card, therefore, represents energy of high velocity, such as furnishes the master-key to modern mathematical physics." From LXXVIII: "Hasty communications and messages; swiftness."
Nine of Wands
- Title: Strength
- Astrology: Moon in Sagittarius
- Tree of Life: Yesod
- Description: "The Wands have now become arrows. There are eight of them in the background, and in front of them one master arrow. This has the Moon for its point, and the Sun for the driving Force above it; for the path of Sagittarius on the Tree of Life joins the Sun and Moon. The flames in the card are tenfold, implying that the Energy is directed downwards."
- Interpretation: "The Nine may be considered as the best that can be obtained from the type involved, regarded from a practical and material standpoint. This card is also governed by the Moon in Sagittarius; so here is a double influence of the Moon on the Tree of Life. Hence the aphorism 'Change is Stability'." From LXXVIII: "Strength, power, health, recovery from sickness."
Ten of Wands
- Title: Oppression (The Lord of Oppression)
- Astrology: Saturn in Sagittarius
- Tree of Life: Malkuth
- Description: "The eight Wands are still crossed, showing the enormous power of the completed energies of Fire; but they have lost their patents of nobility. Their ends seem more like claws; they lack the authority and intelligence shown in the earlier cards; and in front are the two formidable Dorjes of the Two of Wands, but lengthened to bars."
- Interpretation: "[This card] shows the Force detached from its spiritual sources. It is become a blind Force; so, the most violent form of that particular energy, without any modifying influences. The flames in the back ground of the card have run wild. It is Fire in its most destructive aspect...The whole picture suggests Oppression and repression. It is a stupid and obstinate cruelty from which there is no escape. It is a Will which has not understood anything beyond its dull purpose, it's 'lust of result', and will devour itself in the conflagrations it has evoked." From LXXVIII: "Cruel and overbearing force and energy, but applied only to material and selfish ends."
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