In this article Five of Wands Symbols, I refer to the Five 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 Strife.
The symbolism found on this card is primarily drawn from occult, mythology and astrology.
Five of Wands: Key Symbols
Battle, blue sky, barren landscape
“A posse of youths, who are brandishing staves, as if in sport or strife. It is mimic warfare.”A.E.Waite
The Original Rider Waite Pictorial Key to The Tarot
5 of Wands Imagery: metaphor, symbol meaning, allegory, legends
Complete A-Z List: Tarot Card Symbols
What Does The Battle Symbolize in The Five of Wands?
What are the five men doing in the Five of Wands?
According to the author A.E.Waite, ‘a posse of youths’ are brandishing wands ‘as if in sport or strife.’ He continues that this card corresponds to the divinatory meanings of ‘strenuous competition’ and the ‘search after riches and fortune.’
As such, this mimic warfare symbolizes the battle of life. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn used the word ‘strife’ to describe this card. Strife is defined as the act of conflict or something that is difficult to do.
Sometimes it is necessary to strive and fight for what you want. There is a sense of kinetic energy motion here, as one man pushes the next, energy is transferred from one object to the next. This suggests forward momentum and action gathering pace. Change becomes less predictable and inevitable as momentum builds. Conflict breeds inspiration.
The Five of Wands is sometimes connected with gold and wealth, and it does look like the youths are constructing a pentacle or pentagram with their wands (more obvious when the card is reversed). In this case, the kinetic energy manifests into a combined creative collaboration.
What is The Meaning of Blue Sky in the Five of Wands?
In Tarot, the color of the sky tends to reflect the mood and message of the card. Blue skies are a sign of nice weather and carefree days, while grey skies signify the threat of rain and trouble brewing.
We are presented here with a bright day and no clouds in the sky. This implies that the mood of the youths is friendly, which supports the idea that this is a mock-battle among friends or peers.
What is The Symbolism of The Barren Landscape?
The landscape is unusually barren in the Five of Wands, the land looks dry and bare and there is a not a tree, flower or river to be found. There is nothing here to distract the eye from the action taking place. This may be a reference to the focus necessary to get ahead in life, and the ‘tuning-out’ of all other distractions unrelated to the struggle in hand.
There may also be a subtle warning here, not to become so consumed by the battle to get ahead, that you are left emotionally barren in other areas of your life. Think of the person who works so hard, that they neglect their personal relationships.
What Sphere Does The 5 of Wands Represent in Qabalah?
Qabalah (Kabbalah): In western occultism, the 5 of Wands depicts the fifth sphere of the Tree of Life called Geburah. It sits below Binah, across from Chesed and above Hod.
According to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Geburah corresponds to the element of fire, and Khamael (Camael) is the archangel who resides over the sphere. Camael is the archangel of strength, courage and war in Jewish and Christian mythology and angelology. The choir of angels that reside in the sphere are the Seraphim.
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Complete List: Tarot Card Symbolism
Karina, author of Tarot in 5 Minutes.
The Ultimate Guide to Five of Wands Symbols