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Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Visual cues vs attributions in 2 of Wands

Original Rider Waite Tarot 
Today I've drawn a card that can often be puzzling. The figure in 2 of Wands stands atop what appears to be a castle, holding a globe and a staff. Behind him,  a second staff is mounted to the wall (see the mounting attaching it there?) The figure looks out toward the sea over a harbour town. To me, he looks like a merchant contemplating trade. That's what it's always looked like to me, and I always tend to associate it with business, planning, ambition, etc. And yet when we look at elemental attributions, 2 of Wands is Water of Fire (along with 5 of Wands, 8 of Wands and Queen of Wands).

What is the 'Water' of 'Fire'? Well, Fire is of course passion and drive. What could be the 'watery' aspect of Fire? Water is all about emotion and relationships, so based on elemental attributions, this card should point to passions and drive that extend beyond the self to other people, and their passions and drives. The Water of Fire personality might take on roles such as conflict resolution, moderator, crisis counsellor, trauma counsellor, a Samaritan volunteer, trained listener, and have assertive empathy/insight.

Looking at the card and thinking of those elemental attributions, you'd rather expect to see other people depicted. And yet, the figure stands alone above the town, looking out to sea. The action of looking out to sea has always tended to represent contemplating the 'rest of the world' or the 'vastness' of the world. To drive that point home, the figure literally holds the world in his hand.

This comparison of visual cues vs attributions is interesting, and when we incorporate the meaning of the number 2 into the elemental attribution, we also start to see aspects of duality, balance, cooperation, choice, yin and yang...and 2 + Fire = a choice that must be made about what action to take, because Fire is also the element of action. So the 2 of Wands points to thinking about how what you do impacts others -- those closest to you (the village) and the rest of the existence -- everyone else in the world (out to sea), and even the planet itself (the globe).

If I go by just the picture, my reaction is that the figure is dressed like a wealthy merchant, and as trade routes, especially those that led to great wealth, were by ship, his looking out to sea holding a globe logically represents planning his 'world domination' (even if in reality that just means becoming the wealthiest man in his small shipping village). This would lead me to interpret the card as something to do with business ventures, plans, marketing or whatever, and any of those could be perfectly valid readings of this card, but then there are occasions when a card turns up and your initial associations based solely on visual cues don't quite make sense. You've asked about how to deal with your monster-in-law and the 2 of Wands turns up. So what? Are you supposed to go into business with her? Focus on work or your own goals and ignore her? Not necessarily. This is where elemental attributions and numerology can add depth and solve those mysteries left by 'intuitive' meanings (which are really just your personal associations with or reactions to an image).  Using attributions, you see that maybe the card is advising you to consider things from your monster-in-law's point of view, or to take a more 'global' perspective on the situation. Maybe it's asking you to consider the effect that your little war with your monster-in-law could be having on everyone else around you, and on your future. That sort of thing.

Today is my wedding anniversary, and taking a broader perspective on how my actions affect others is a good theme for today.


  1. A very in depth exploration of the Two of Wands. I don't think we can ever make a decision which won't effect others but to be aware of it is a whole different thing!
    Happy anniversary!!

  2. I didn't even get around to speculating about why the second wand is mounted to the wall. I never even really noticed that until today!

  3. I like that "global perspective". Intuitively, the lily and the rose also speak to that water/fire duality - purity of emotion linked with passion. Makes me think of decision-making that combines head and heart... Lovely, thoughtful post, Carla :)
    Hope the anniversary was wonderful!

  4. Belated happy anniversary Carla!

    I would love to hear your views on the other staff attached to the wall! Great post!!

    1. That could be an upcoming post in the near future -- as soon as I come up with some views on the matter! :D