Six of Wands

Six of Wander, Waite-Smith

After the creative chaos of the Five, something interesting has happened. Our group has gone from competition, struggle, and interaction to one of triumph and alignment. Looking to the side and slightly away from the viewer, the group moves as one in a parade of celebration. The tone is clearly one of victory and even abundance, rewards well won and a community pulled together in parade.

It is a fun exercise to imagine the reasons they celebrate. Perhaps the central leader brought the group unity from the chaos of the Five, giving them a common cause and shared success. Maybe he is just their common symbol for their own success, having done more together than any alone could accomplish. Whatever the reason, they place importance on one of them – the main actor, somehow he is important. While he might be a leader, an interesting note is that he isn’t heading the celebration – others do. He is a part of something bigger than himself in the procession, but holds a special place as a hero or victor.

A Curious Case

I have pulled this card an eery quantity of times in the last few weeks, both in meditation and readings. I had noticed the faces of the figures and wondered: Why is the figure in the back so different? Why does he look so sternly at the central figure rather than ahead with the others? I have interpreted his expression as critical and careful. He seems to me to be a part of the group only after consideration, and is willing to break rank the moment he disapproves of anything. Even so, he deems the celebration right – after all, he marches with them!

My good friend Crystal is a graduate of Classics and archaeology. While we looked over this card together she told me it reminded her of the Roman Triumphs – While a victorious commander was being paraded about in ancient Rome after an especially fantastic victory, it is believed that the slave who held the wreath above his head head would talk constantly, reminding him of his mortality. A noble effort to stem megalomania, though it seems that Rome still fell to men who thought they were gods.

The figure in the back echoes that message somewhat – the reminde of humanity. I believe that the figure is a personification of the self-conscious capacity. Considering the group in the card as different parts of a single mind, the self-conscious part of it provides self-review, judgement, and discernment. In some ways Key Five, the Hierophant, is represented – the figure is the inner teacher, the conscience of the group, and the one who listens rather than blindly marching ahead.

Without that conscience, the group may become a mob controlled by contagious pride and prejudice. The figure in the back has chosen – through his own judgement and free choice – to join in the procession. He agrees, and gives this card a sense of authorization and earned celebration – and harmony. Simultaneously, the reminder is provided in the trailing figure: We are but human, and no matter the scope of our success, it is never the same as achieving godhood. It is a ward against arrogance and even against being on a high horse – a warning against the Tower. Simultaneously, the last figure truly is a part of the procession – even if their role is vigilance over the central actor, they are in agreement: Celebration here is earned, whatever was accomplished was good.

Occult Considerations and Conclusion

Crowley calls this card Victory, and the BotA materials ultimately agree. The decanate is the second in Leo, ruled by Jupiter. A more succinct condensation couldn’t be asked for; The expansive benevolence of Jupiter applied to Leo’s radiance will amplify it, allowing the fiery will to shine and be adored in its expression. As a Leo myself, I can guarantee that a Jupiter influence here is definitely well felt; Simultaneously, the power and strength benefits from a reality check, provided by the vigilant watcher in the group. Its times like this where I really admire the RWS deck for its grace.

The six coincides with Tiphareth, the bottom-most point of the Star of David which is formed between the upper six sephiroth. Always consistent with the harmonizing themes of the Sixes, Tiphareth is the seat of the higher self – the self which works compassionately and is best fulfilled by service to the larger community of life and being. In the fiery suit of Wands, we have our impulses elevated to a vantage point above our selfishness, and we apply our passion to the world around us. The victory in the Six of Wands then is in service to the betterment and benefit of all, if even in a small way – it is a “true” victory.

Though I don’t often encounter reversals since I right my deck prior to readings, I did today have one and so I’m thinking how I may read this card reversed. The reversal may indicate too much self judgement in the face of legitimate success. It is important to allow ourselves joy an satisfaction; those feelings are available to us for a reason, and sometimes I encounter people who feel ‘sinful’ for simply being proud of something they did well! Of course, given the context of a reversal, the meaning of this card becomes limitless. In any case, remind a querent who seems unhappy despite their good work to give themselves credit – Feeling good for our accomplishments is both human and healthy!

In all, what a wonderful card. It considers our efforts against the ‘big picture’, and proclaims: I’m with you, you’ve done so well! While validation on our path can always feel nice, in the context of utter honesty, acceptance and encouragement mean so much more.

2 thoughts on “Six of Wands

  1. What an insightful, differentiated and comprehensive reading of this card. Thank you for making the minor arcana really come to life in your analysis, Lionel – or should I say in your knowing of the heart? I am so inspired to look closer at the illustrations now and pick up these subtle details like the last man in the parade… such excellent awareness!
    I have often found this card to appear also when someone has fought an inner fight and overcome obstacles to inner growth and balance, such as self deception or denial. An honest look at one’s faults and warts is often ‘rewarded’ by this card. The reference over to the Roman Triumph marches is so enlightening – It reminds us that we, as the seers/readers are included in this marchI The Triumphs included the vanquished and the slaves who were paraded along with the victors, and in some ways we as the readers can become aware of the polarity of victory and defeat which is inherent in this card – one cannot exist without the other, just like one triangle alone cannot make the Star of David…And maybe that is also part of the message, like the (here invisible) slave who held the wreath and murmured the words about the ephemeral nature of victory and life…
    Namaste
    Karinjenny
    PS I really love your thoughtful rejoinders to all of our posts!!!!

    1. Thanks again Karin,

      I feel like overcoming inner deception and denial is a very interesting read on this card – it definitely approaches the group on the card as different parts of the self, which I especially enjoy.

      Thanks for the comment, and though I caught this comment late, I’m glad you appreciate my responses 🙂

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