Last week we worked with the Empress, which capped the 3’s in the Tarot. This week we move on to the 4’s with the 4 of Wands. Our first exercise of the week is one of simply observing. In spending time observing the 4 of Wands, we can notice the things that stick out to us, take note of the images that say something to us.
The key to this exercise is not to define what you see, but rather to listen to what the images say to you, if they say anything. If all you notice is that there’s a lot of yellow in the card, for example, then take note of that.
Doing this exercise regularly with your cards will help you guide querents in the future by asking them similar questions, and it will also alert you to certain aspects of your own life that might need attention. Is the ram not letting your attention go? Consider why this might be.
To do this exercise, pull out your tarot deck and the 4 of Wands, if you have a Tarot deck. If not, then you can look at other depictions of the card online or use the ones provided below.
Set yourself with a means of recording, whether it’s making a video on your phone, with a voice recorder, or with a pen/cil and paper. Describe your card, by writing or speaking, and record what your eye is drawn to. Don’t try to define what this means, just write down what you notice, and if you feel so inspired, what it makes you think of. By this, I mean associations you have. If you have read any definitions of any of the images you see or a definition of the card, now is a time to put that aside, and simply listen to the card.
Below are descriptions of eight different cards. You can use these if you’d like to assist you with this exercise.
The Rider-Waite 4 of Wands shows four Wands sticking into the ground, conjoined by flowery bows. At the top of each wand, springs of life grow. They are on a green ground. In the background, two figures can be seen holding up bouquets. Some consider this to be a man and a woman at a wedding, though A. E. Waite writes in The Pictorial Key to the Tarot that they are two women. Both are in a white gown, though one with a blue robe and the other in a red robe. Further in the distance, toward the left of the card, a crowd of people can be seen. Behind all of them is a castle. The sky is yellow.
The Spiral Tarot shows a man and a woman standing beneath flowery garlands held up by four Wands. The woman wears a veil, indicating a wedding. Behind them are two women to the right of the card, and a little girl walking away to the left of the card. In the background is a church and a rising hill. The sky is blue.
The Aquarian Tarot 4 of Wands shows four Wands, each blooming with flowers at the top, connected by a string with flowers decorating it. The ground they are before is brown, and in a valley. A small castle is in the background, with a river surrounding it. A bridge is seen to cross the river.
The Vampire Tarotshows four stakes in a dark room. They are on a green surface. At the top is a portrait, or window, or mirror (though I think it’s likely that it’s a portrait) of a vampire in their coffin. It has a gold frame.
The Faerie Tarot shows a faerie asleep in a flowery surface. She has blond hair and a green dress and pink wings. In the background are four wands. Further back, the silhouettes of five leafless trees, and a dark sky that gets lighter as it gets toward the top.
The Thoth4 of Wands shows four sceptres which cross like spokes on a wheel. In fact, they are almost just that, as they are connected by a yellow circle. In the center, between each spoke is a flame. Each of the wands has a rams head at one end and a sparrow at the other end.
The background is green for this card. At the top is the symbol for Venus, and at the bottom is the glyph for Aries.
The keyword at the bottom reads ‘Completion.’
The Prisma-Vision 4 of Wands shows four colorful wands coming out of the ground. A string of flowers connects them all. They are beside a river with long grass. At the base of the wands and at the other side of the river are flowers.
The Impressionist Tarot takes from Edouard Manet’s Monet Painting in his Studio Boat (1874). The Card features a man in a small rowboat with four posts holding up a sunshade. The man is painting a woman who sit in front of him and his easel.
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As you go through the various cards, what do you notice that is a running theme in imagery? What do you notice tends to differ? Which of the images resonates with you? Why? Spend time considering your own tarot decks, and do your own comparison.
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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.