Suit: Suit of Wands
Card Type: Minor Arcana
In this article Eight of Wands Symbols, I refer to the Eight of Wands card from the Rider Waite Tarot deck, also known as the Waite-Smith, or Rider-Waite-Smith, or Rider tarot deck. In the Thoth Tarot deck this card is called Swiftness, esoteric name Lord of Swiftness.
The symbolism found on this card is primarily drawn from mythology, alchemy and occult Tarot.
- Eight of Wands: Key Symbols
- Why Are There No People in the Eight of Wands?
- Are The 8 Wands Soaring Upwards or Downwards?
- How Is This Card Symbolic of Spell Casting?
- What is The Meaning of The Hills and River in This Tarot Card?
- What is The Meaning of The Castle in the Eight of Wands?
- What Sphere Does The Eight of Wands Represent in Qabalah?
Eight of Wands: Key Symbols
No people, direction of wands, river, hills, castle
“The card represents motion through the immovable – a flight of wands through an open country; but they draw to the term of their course. That which they signify is at hand; it may be even on the threshold.”A.E.Waite
The Original Rider Waite Pictorial Key to The Tarot
8 of Wands Imagery: metaphor, symbol meaning, allegory, legends
Complete A-Z List: Tarot Card Symbols
Why Are There No People in the Eight of Wands?
The Eight of Wands is one of the few cards in the Rider Waite deck without people. The reason for this perhaps, is that the artist intended to keep the message as open as possible to individual interpretation. As soon as you place a person in a picture, it is human nature to start identifying with that figure, and so the story becomes ‘tainted’. By keeping the picture human-free, it allows the reader to expand their psychic intuition in a reading and gleam more unexpected information.
When a Tarot card has no people in it, it means that this is your story to write.
⭐The other people-free cards are: Three of Swords Symbols, and all four Aces.
Are The 8 Wands Soaring Upwards or Downwards?
Eight javelins are flying through the air. Depending on your situation, these javelins are either soaring upwards into the air, representing a newly launched goal or project. Or, they are on a downward trajectory about to hit their target.
Waite implies they are about to land as they “draw to the term of their course.” However, there is no ‘right’ answer here. You can interpret this card instinctively and freshly with each reading.
The javelins are in alignment, suggesting that this is a coordinated launch by unseen hands, and not long ago. The action of launching the wands had method, purpose and design behind it. In other words, when this card turns up in a Tarot reading, it can only refer to concrete actions which the reader has taken in the near past. For example, if they sent out resumes then they may ‘land’ a job in the near future. If they joined a dating agency, they may ‘land’ the perfect romantic partner. This card is not a response to mere ‘hopes’ and ‘dreams’, but rather to concrete actions taken.
Notice that one wand lags slightly behind the others? This represents an ‘after-thought’, or an opportunity or response arriving a little later.
Javelin throwing is a sport which evolved from the everyday use of the spear in hunting and warfare. This theme of ‘hunting’ and spearing your ‘prey’ is significant in this card. Keep your eye on your intended prey … ops, target! Interesting, javelin throwing became a part of the modern Olympic Games program in 1908, just a few years before the artist Pamela Colman Smith created this deck. Perhaps the novelty sparked her creative design in this instance.
How Is This Card Symbolic of Spell Casting?
If you enjoy working with Wiccan, witchcraft or alchemy, you may find that this card particularly resonates with you. The wands flying through the air can be considered symbolic of the art of spell casting. Once a spell is cast, the seer has to let it go and fly, to find its target. If you asked, ‘will this spell work?’ and you receive the Eight of Wands, have no doubt that your spell will find its mark.
This card may also be linked to other metaphysical pursuits such as astral projection, the ability to have out-of-body experiences and the separation of consciousness from the body. It can represent ergokinesis, the ability to move energy; and even transvection or levitation, the ability to fly or float by magical means.
What is The Meaning of The Hills and River in This Tarot Card?
River and hills in Tarot, generally represent obstacles which must be surpassed before reaching your goal or destination. In this case, the ‘obstacle’ may simply be time. You must wait – but not for long, as the 8 of Wands is associated with speed.
The appearance of a river can also imply the need to ‘go with the flow’, which may be a more suitable interpretation in this instance. The wands have been launched, there is nothing more to do now but wait to see when and where they will fall.
What is The Meaning of The Castle in the Eight of Wands?
In Tarot, castles symbolize dominion, which comes from the Latin domus, meaning home. Castles are symbolic of success, the place you rest your weary head at the end of a long journey. Whatever your goal, a college course, launching a business or writing a book, you are nearing the finishing line when a castle appears in your Tarot card.
⭐Castles also appear here: The Chariot, Ace of Wands, 2 of Wands, 8 of Swords, 5 of Cups, 7 of Cups, 10 of Cups, 10 of Wands, 9 of Pentacles, 10 of Pentacles, King of Pentacles.
What Sphere Does The Eight of Wands Represent in Qabalah?
Qabalah (Kabbalah): In western occultism, the 8 of Wands depicts the eight sphere or sefirot of the Tree of Life called Hod. Hod translates as splendor or glory. Hod is said to be the sphere in which the magician mostly works, and is associated with the solar plexus chakra.
According to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Michael is the archangel who resides over the sphere. The order of angels that reside in the sphere are the Bene Elohim.
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Karina, author of Tarot in 5 Minutes.
The Ultimate Guide to Eight of Wands Symbols