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78 Weeks of Tarot: 3 of Wands


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For information on what these threads refer to, see this thread;


78 Weeks of Tarot - Informational Thread


The above linked thread gives suggested dates for the cards as well as links to the individual topics.


Some of us may be working through the study in a different order and using different decks. If you have general questions or comments regarding the 78 Weeks of Tarot study group, please post in the topic in the above link.


Have fun.

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Deck: Fairytale Tarot


Card name: Three of Wands


First impressions:


We see Sindbad in three-quarter profile from the back, as he looks out to sea from his ship, his hand over his eyes. He looks young and is dressed in Middle Eastern dress: a blue tunic, with a wide red fabric belt that matches his loose-fitting trousers. Onboard the ship are various pots and other supplies. Just below Sindbad is a table with a map. The sky and sea are both blue. In the not too far distance is a rocky shore. Seagulls fly above.


I tend to think of the Three of Wands as the card of explorers and exploration, so this looks good to me.


After reading the story:


It’s a fantastic voyage, all right. Sindbad, a merchant from Baghdad, sets sail with many others, nearly drowns, casts up on an island where he is taken in by the king and treated well. Eventually, his original ship turns up and after some confusion he is able to go back home, much richer than he was when he left,


I’m not so clear at this point what Threes are really all about, but in this case of Wands, they seem to be about getting out into the world, learning a lot and having great success.


From the companion book:


Keywords: Setting out on the next phase of a project; feeling expansive and exploratory; seeing your plans take shape in the wider world; dreaming of new horizons.


The Three of Wands represents the moment when you look outwards and begin to wonder about expansion and exploration. Sindbad goes exploring for the love of it (even though he also needs the money that he hopes to gain from the trip). He is daring and ambitious in what he sets out to do and undaunted by adventures both good and bad.


The original story:


The First Voyage of Sindbad the Seaman, from The Arabian Nights.

Traditional meanings (from TarotElements.com):


Ideas crystallizing; integrity; confidence; a hobby becoming a business; confirmation you’re on the right path; control with harmony; business expansion. In its negative expression: loss of direction; lack of ambition; questioning your motives; changing your mind; difficulties in business.

From 78 Degrees of Wisdom, by Rachel Pollack


Threes indicate combinations and achievements. With Wands, a three becomes accomplishment. Keeping a solid basis in what you have accomplished while continuing to open new areas and interests in yourself. It’s a Gate card for exploring the unknown, including unknown areas of yourself.


My impressions of the card/story combination:


I think it’s a good combo. I like that it’s the first voyage since that captures the idea, not only of accomplishment, but also that it’s an early accomplishment. And of course there is the idea of exploration, which I’m happy to see included.


My take (what I make of it/what I might see in a reading where I drew it)

I don’t know that my former take on this card is changed here, more of a reinforcement of how I have thought of it before. But I think that perhaps I will be reminded that not only was it a daring journey, but that by undertaking it, Sindbad did accomplish what he set out to do: making money and returning home. He just did it on a grander scale than he had hoped.


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Three of Wands – The Hermetic Tarot by Godfrey Dowson

Lord of Established Strength



Significant Symbology and Meaning

  • Number 3
  • Element Fire (Flames)
  • Symbols for Sun and Aries
  • Three crossed wands
  • Names of Hechashiah and Aamamiah
  • Rams head
  • Radiating Sun
  • Lotus flowers

The card shows three crossed wands, held in a natural grip that appears gentler than the hand in the card before it. Small flames emanate from the junction which they cross, while two flames on either side frame the internal scene like pillars. There is a more balanced energy in these flames compared to the two of wands, they grow strong, in control, with a lighter intensity than the first iteration. The central wand is a dominant thicker tool, topped with a radiating sun that lights the symbols of the Sun to the left, and of Aries to the right. The bottom of the central wand holds the rams head, another reinforcement of the Aries energy that all other nuance is built on. The two side wands are topped with the life affirming lotus flowers, which appear small and not yet completely open. The wands are a symbol of the of the balance of Chokmah and Binah, giving life to the third wand. The bottom of the two side wands depict balls with the Sun and Aries symbols once again.

The Hebrew names for the angels Hechashiah and Aamamiah are written along the bottom of the card.



Astrological Aspects

2nd Decan of Aries, Sun in Aries (Cardinal [succedent]/Fire). Astrologically this card has moved into a more comfortable place, where the immense energy of that starting power is no longer required as momentum has been gained. It is the sun after the big bang, where it has now settled into a more consistent and sustainable situation where the bulk of what needs to be accomplished can be actioned.



Exploring the Tree of Life position

Binah (Understanding)


The sephirot of Binah is symbolised by the yoni, cup, triangle, heh, and symbol for the planet Saturn. The symbolic references of yoni, cup, and heh are particularly indicative of a female motherly energy, the great womb from which all life emerges. It’s placement on the female pillar of severity, and it’s high point on the Tree of Life designate Binah as the primary female sephirah – opposite Chokmah which is the primary male energy on the pillar of mercy. Binah, along with the life giving aspects, is restriction. You can feel this as the supernal triangle starting at Kether moves through Chokmah, gains the wisdom of balance and discipline. So while it can be the ‘bright fertile mother’, it can also be the opposite ‘dark sterile mother’. Binah’s colour is the black dark waters on the unconscious, of mystery, or the unknown, as well as the habitation of supernal light. A great contradiction, or the ultimate balance of both powers. It is the theory that life emerged from the deepest depths of the seas – probably figuratively and literally. Binah is attributed to the God Chronos, or Father Time – a most restrictive concept from which we can not escape in this density. The association with Saturn in the context of the qualities of boundaries, restriction, constriction, birth, death, beginnings and endings, are apt. 


Overall meaning LWB

From the LWB:

Meanings: Established force. Strength. Acumen. Realisation of hope. Completion. Success. Nobility. Wealth. Power.

Reversed: Conceit. Rude. Insolent. Obstinate. Treacherous.



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3 of Wands

Image: Jason stands before the kneeling king Pelias. Jason is holding 3 flaming wands in his right hand and he wears a red tunic and one sandal on his left foot. King Pelias wears royal purple robes and offers his gold crown up to Jason. Behind Jason is a winding river running through the hills of Iolkos. There are crops in the fields ready for harvest, and beyond that stand the buildings of the kingdom proper.


Brief myth: Previous to this chapter Pelias had been warned by an oracle to beware of a man bearing one sandal. Jason lost a sandal while crossing the river. Once confronted Pelias quickly abdicates the throne, but in doing so, he also suggests Jason seek and attain the golden fleece to honor Iolkos. The initial goal is complete, only to be replaced with a new inspiration. 


Emotions and attitudes of figures: Pelias is kneeling and his facial expression shows fear. Jason reaches for the crown with his left hand. His face is stern.

- Jason has accomplished his goal. 

- Pelias has escaped Jason's wrath.

- Jason has been given a new goal, bolder and further reaching than the first. 

In this case the feelings and attitudes of the story grant more meaning to the card than the image does.


Reading 3 of wands: A goal was set in the 2 and accomplished here in the 3 - (celebration, accomplishment). A new challenge has arisen. The first step was never intended to be the final outcome - (goal setting, new potential). A solid foundation has been laid, but new energy emerges with enthusiasm towards bigger and brighter potential - (satisfaction, optimism). Hard work and new plans are in store to see this next phase to completion - (upcoming effort needed).


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Hello @6xscorpio and @Grace, I am joining you at last.  Only a month late!  But if I do a card a day for the remainder of the week, I'll be close to caught up.  I was very happy to read your cards and interpretations, and as you will see after my entry, I frankly found both of your readings more helpful than either of mine.  But I'm determined to complete the 78 with my chosen decks, so I persevere....


Three of Wands


Margarete Petersen - Three of Flames:  The Fire of Creativity. A song which brings something from the Unknown world into the Known. Tones which come into being from the pulsing rhythms of your body. Breath made audible, allowing expression. Allow red light to flow through the throat, modulate loud and soft tones. Play with vowels and consonnants until reaching the OM the first sound (Urklang), the mother of all sounds. The atmosphere fills with tones. Something new is born.


[end Margarete LWB]


I thought this card was pretty nice when I looked at it - the figurine of a stone age woman was singing, I thought, based on the book description.  It was strange, yes, but rather appealing.  I had deep thoughts about how creativity and singing go together, and the journey my teenager has been on to develop their singing voice.  They love to sing, they want to perform in musicals, but they don’t have a naturally good voice.  However, we found the most amazing singing coach, and Beetle’s voice has blossomed.  It’s been a joy to behold.  And their creativity has flourished alongside their vocals, just delightful.


Then - oh then! - I made the mistake of reading the Aecletic discussion thread, in which it was revealed that the figurine on the card is in the act of giving birth.  Once seen, this image cannot be unseen.  Oh, for a Brillo pad to scrub my brain!  I’m all in favor of women giving birth, don’t get me wrong, but I surely don’t want to watch!  So now I just don’t know what to make of this card.  The woman is presumably not hitting an operatic high C but screaming in pain.  I’m a little worried for her.  Who is helping her?  Does she have to do this alone?  I agree that birth is a form of creativity, but it’s also something best done with medical assistance, I think.  Anyway, for me the card is no longer about creative song (a la the LWB) but about times when women bear a burden alone, unsupported by their tribe.  I was so disgruntled that I’ve put off doing this write-up for weeks!  I feel better now that it’s finally done.


Now we can take a look at another 3 of Wands, different from both the Margarete LWB and the Margarete image.


Ironwing Three of Spikes: Three fantasy lamps illuminate the mysterious swirling dark of the imagination.  They are reminiscent of the three-legged tripod upon which the ancient Roman sibyls sat when they uttered prophecy in their caves and shrines.  The crystals form in cool water in limestone, a hidden connection with water that emphasizes the volatile nature of this card.  An iron basket twist lantern holds a lighning bug in a temporary shelter decorated with sparkling quartz “dewdrop diamond” dipryamids, a rare crystal form without prism faces.  The tiny crystals are found in geodes and sometimes break loose, making the hollow stones rattle.


[Two other fantastical lamps are described with similar loving detail.]


The three lamps indicate creativity as magic or madness, the light of divine inspiration from an unexpected and unknown source.  The light is drawn through the hot iron spikes, spiralling through the twists before it is caught and radiated with glittering clarity in the crystals.


[end Ironwing LWB]


After the emotional journey of the Margarete Three of Flames, I find it hard to settle into the rather abstract creativity of this Three of Spikes.  Lorena has invented three lamps, which I suppose wouldn’t actually function as lamps in the real world, but would be perfect for a Harry Potter movie.  They are definitely magical.  When she writes “the light is drawn through the hot iron spikes, spiraling through the twists” I don’t know if that is literal or a metaphor.  The Ironwing is a challenging deck to interpret because it is both deeply shamanic and deeply scientific.  I find it hard to feel both at the same time.  I admire her for it, greatly.  I think it’s something I aspire to, mixing the mystical with the mundane, but not just any mystical and not just any mundane.  She mixes the spiritual beliefs of shamanic practice with the intellectual beliefs of metalurgy and evolution.  I think that I, on the other hand, tend to compartmentalize those two parts of myself.  But what would it be like to imagine mystical energies flowing along the twists of iron that you yourself have forged?  When they were molten, you probably saw the red heat moving up the spiral, and that helps you to imagine another kind of light flowing though the cooled iron.


This is perhaps a form of intellectual creativity, and for me a novel way to look at the 3 of wands.


I have to conclude the unlike some of the cards in both decks, I really can't interpret the 3 of wands through a Rider-Waite lens.  Each is unique and has to be taken on its own terms.  Maybe not a bad thing, but certainly a complicated one.


Thanks for hanging in there, Tough Cookies, and I hope to see more of you in this thread before the year is out!


Edited by Gardener
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