Last week we completed all of the 1’s after a week devoted to each of the Aces as well as last week which was devoted to understanding and learning about the Magician. This week we move on to the 2’s, looking first at the 2 of Wands.
I encourage you to take your own deck(s) out and study the 2 of Wands. If you have a recording devise or a pen and paper, spend some time just sitting with the card and describing it, writing down or speaking any detail of it that you can. Even when you’ve finished, continue to study and observe it. You might be surprised at what you notice.
I personally have eight decks that I use in this series, and I work with all of them to show you the variations of depictions, but also to look at the similarities between them.
The Rider-Waite Tarot depiction of the 2 of Wands in an orange tunic and purple robe looking toward the left side of the card, with his back toward the reader. His boots and hat are red. On either side of him is a Wand with sprouting leaves. With his left hand, he holds on to the Wand on his left, while holding up a small globe with his right hand. He is behind a low wall that has a two white lilies and two red roses carved/painted on the side. Beyond the wall is a green forest and blue mountains that go down into a bay. The sky is grey.
The Spiral Tarotshows a man sitting at a table, his body positioned so that it’s facing the reader. Between him and the reader is a small globe on the table. The man leans on his left elbow on the right side of the card, resting his face, but looking up toward the top left side of the card, or toward the top of the wand he holds with his right hand toward the left side of the card. The other wand is against the right side of the card. Behind him is a brick wall, a bay, and beyond that a city. The sky is blue.
A figure stands at the right side of the card, postured and facing directly to the left. They have a hat covering their hair, and a patch on their shoulder depicting a white lily crossing a pink rose. The figure’s left hand holds a wand, while the right hand holds a pink orb, which could also be the sun low in the sky but seemingly cupped by the hand. The horizon is just below it. The second wand is on the left side of the card. The background/sky is white.
The Thoth Tarot shows two crossing orange wands with arrow tips pointing toward the two bottom corners. At the base of each tip are two coiled snakes. The other end of the wands shows a gargoyle-like head, with snakes curled around each ear of each gargoyle. Each wear a crown which gives way to a horse’s head. Behind the crossing wands 6 rays of flame. The background is blue which fades to a very light blue, and orange dots all across it. At the top of the card in the center is the glyph for Mars. At the bottom of the card in the center is the glyph for Aries. The keyword for the card reads, ‘Dominion.’
The Vampire Tarot shows the Wands as stakes, and in the 2 of Wands, two stakes cross, holding up a gold-framed mirror, possibly a picture. The image in it is two women, one tall with long brown hair and a black cloak, and the other shorter with long blond hair and a white cloak and dress. They stand with their backs to each other and their eyes closed.
The Faerie Tarot shows a faerie in a red dress with golden spirals decorating it. Her wings are red which fade to orange and then white. Her orange curls are tied back. She sits on the ledge of a fairy well, a wand in front of her. The second Wand is behind her, taller than the one in front of her. Both have five green leaves and four red berries, with red sparkles around it. At the foot of the faerie are three mushrooms, and a vine grows around the well. The trees in the background are naked and the sky is a blueish grey.
A figure stands with their back away from the reader in a dark blue cloak. They look to the left of the card, their left hand holding to a Wand, while the second Wand is strapped to their back. A rail of flowers trail from the wands. The figure is in tall grass that gives way to a stream. Beyond the stream is a field of flowers, behind which are black mountains. In the sky is a crescent moon in the top left corner.
The Impressionist Tarot alters the 1877 painting, Nana by Édouard Manet. ‘An upper class lady of the evening’ (p. 83*). She stands to the left of the card, holding something up in her hand. Her dress is blue, and she looks at the reader, smiling. Behind her is a red and gold settee, with two umbrellas set upright on it (acting as the two Wands). Behind the couch is a red brick wall, and two birds stand on it’s ledge. A tree branch hovers above her. The background is blue.
As you go through the various cards, what do you notice that is a running theme in imagery? There should be several things that you notice, and you should question and explore what sticks out to you:
Spend time considering your own tarot decks, and do your own comparison. Don’t look up any definitions, meaning of symbolism, or pull any prior knowledge of the card, suite or element. Simply look at the depictions, and note what you think and feel about them.
*Earlier I referred to the phrasing used to describe the 2 of Wands in the Impressionist Tarot. This quote was from Impressionist Tarot: Colors of Light by Corrine Kenner. It is ‘the official guide to the Impressionist Tarot.’
Today marks the beginning of the second week of the 30-Day Tarot Writing Challenge, in which I provide daily card spreads to help writers complete their Camp NaNoWriMo projects. It’s never too late to join in. Share your readings on Instagram or Twitter, and be sure to tag #30DayTarotWritingChallenge when you do!
The Aquarian Tarot in a Tin by Italian-born, American-raised David Palladini, was published originally in 1970 by U.S. Games Systems Inc, and then republished again in 2016 in a smaller size. Named after the Age of Aquarius, the Aquarian Tarot is a midieval depiction of the Rider-Waite Tarot system. The images are closer, and thus might give the impression of being more character-based rather than relying on symbolism. This intimate deck provides a stark reflection of the human condition in it’s journey through the tarot.
Faerie Tarot by Nathalie Hertz, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc, 2008. Hertz is a French artist, and the creator of several other beautiful tarot decks. The Faerie Tarot was ‘inspired by the flora and fauna of the French countryside,’ and ‘invites you to see the world in a delightful new way…blending fantasy, whimsy, and nature.’
Impressionist Tarot by Arturo Picca (artist) and Corrine Kenner (author), published by Lo Scarabeo in 2015. This deck takes works of classic impressionist paintings and recreates them to fit the meanings of the tarot. It pulls from works of Edonard Manet, Claude Monet, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gough, and Paul Gauguin. A truly beautiful deck, especially for those who have interest in the art world.
Prisma Visions Tarot by James R. Eads, 3rd ed., published in 2016. The deck itself is beautiful, though perhaps not for the beginning tarot reader. The suits all fit together to create a master picture displaying the energy and progression of the suits. The figures and images flow from one card to the next, showing movement within the stationary cards.
Rider-Waite by A. E. Waite. The deck used in these photos is currently out of print. I won’t say much about this deck, as it is fairly standard and probably one of the most produced decks. It serves as a standard for many tarot readers and artists, depicting classic images relating in part to the original playing cards that tarot developed from.
The Spiral Tarot by Kay Steventon. With turn-of-the-20th-century style art, this deck takes from the classic Rider-Waite deck and brings it up to the late 1800-early 1900’s, a time of industry and contemplation for the western world as it moved forward into a more technological era. I am a little biased toward this deck as it’s been my main deck for 15 years. The cards are thick with additional symbolism that can be tricky to pick out of the traditional Rider-Waite, and adds layers of Greek myth throughout the Major Arcana.
Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley (designer and author) and Lady Frieda Harris (artist), published by U. S. Games Systems, Inc., in 1978. This deck takes from most esoteric imagery, and requires the reader of the deck to have deep, initiate knowledge of the symbolism used. There is nothing within the cards that is without meaning. However, on a more surface level, the deck draws from Egyptian symbolism and from the style of the Marseille Tarot (mostly seen within the Minor Arcana). For those looking for deeper understandings of the universe, I recommend this deck. I would caution that this deck is highly advanced, and might be avoided for the budding reader.
Vampire Tarot – by Nathalie Hertz, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. in 2000. As mentioned above in reference to the Faerie Tarot, Hertze is a French artist who gained her notability through the publication of her tarot decks. The Vampire Tarot was a bestselling deck upon its release, and plays on more gothic symbolism, providing more jarring interpretations to allow for the accepting of negative forces within the world to compliment the positive forces. The deck brings together myths and legends in the form of vampires, which ‘gives tarot readers a macabre passport’ into the world of divination.