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Eight of Wands Reversed and a Word on Reversals – Smith-Waite Centennial

The Rider-Waite-Smith Eight of Wands card comes up for our daily draw today in the reversed position. Has a sense of urgency been driving you lately? And more importantly, are you passing that stress onto the people around you?

I invite you to think deeply about how you might be imposing deadlines and exerting pressure today. In the reversed position, the Eight of Wands asks you to pay closer attention to the pace you're setting.

But first, let's talk a bit about how to read reversed tarot cards as a follow-up to my Ten of Swords post back in January. That was the first time a reversed card came up in our free tarot reading series!

Eight of Wands Reversed tarot card pictured with fresh cedar on a dark blue background, detailed description of Rider-Waite image in body text

How I (usually) read reversed tarot cards

Many tarot readers treat reversals as inversions of a card's usual meaning. And still others don't pay attention to reversals at all! Now, there's no one right way to read tarot cards or tarot card reversals. And in my own tarot readings, the approach sometimes varies. It really depends on my client's question and the nature of the spread we're doing together.

But for single-card readings especially, my intuition as a reader has led me down my own unique path to interpreting reversed cards' meaning. While upright cards show my clients' role in the world and what's affecting them, reversed cards tend to show me how they're acting on the people around them.

Tarot is so often about an extreme focus on our own life's journey! But reversed cards can offer a really valuable perspective on our impact on other people. Through this lens, tarot card reversals remind us that everyone is the protagonist in their own story. And they invite us to consider our role as sometimes minor characters in other people's narratives. Self-care is important, but so is our care for others. 

The Eight of Wands card in the Smith-Waite Centennial tarot deck

Let's turn out attention back to the Eight of Wands card itself. In this classic Rider-Waite-Smith deck, we see eight parallel Wands soaring through the air toward the ground. The sky is clear, the day is sunny, and the ground is green and fertile. All of these latter aspects of the card highlight the Wands suit's creative side. They suggest a world of possibility that's very receptive to new ideas, ready to be shaped by new projects.

In some tarot decks, these eight Wands take the shape of flying arrows, like they do in Biddy Tarot's Everyday Tarot deck. Lisa Sterle, meanwhile, in her wonderful Modern Witch Tarot Deck, adds a racing figure on a motorcycle to the Eight of Wands card.

I mention these variations because the Eight of Wands is all about moving fast! Like an arrow or a racer. And as part of the creative and action-oriented Wands suit, this card's fast pace especially suggests the rapid exchange of ideas.

In the upright position, this card can mean a ton of fruitful opportunities—but also too many conflicting deadlines or simply moving too fast, unless you can keep up and roll with the punches. In the reversed position, the Eight of Wands asks you to consider the sense of urgency that you yourself are putting out into the universe. 

Are you being thoughtful about deadlines and expectations?

Now, moving fast or imposing a lot of deadlines and milestones isn't necessarily a bad thing! Not by any means. In fact, these are the traits of a leader. It can be essential to have somebody calling the shots and ensuring that things get done. This kind of hard work is both valid and important. So this daily tarot card is no wrap on the knuckles. 

That being said, Wands remind us of our impulses and passionate urges. Unlike the similar decisive Swords, they're less about thinking things through. There's a time for quick thinking, and responding with urgency is a real skill. Yet we also live in an extremely fast-paced time where work hours are up as wages have stagnated. And so many of us are struggling to find time for ourselves.

Reflection is important. Aligning your expectations with your values is important! And these things take time.

Time to slow down, or full speed ahead?

So ask yourself today, if you're herding folks toward one finish line after another, whether this urgency serves the projects you're working on or the people you're working with. Today's card especially asks you to look at this question from someone else's perspective. Can you see your deadlines and urgency from someone else's point of view?

If a fast pace is indeed necessary for your situation, then take some time to appreciate both your own leadership and the hard work of your collaborators. Make sure everyone understands not only when things need to be done, but also why urgency is an important factor.

But if this briskness is coming from somewhere else—whether habit, or impatience, or simply for expedience's own sake—then see if you can slow down. Check in with the folks you're working with. You'll only be a better leader if you take some time to think deeply and shake off some habits of a breakneck, late-capitalist world.


Having a hard time slowing down or seeing things from new angles? Tarot is a wonderful way to explore new perspectives, to think deeply about what you need and how to get there. You can book a one-on-one reading with yours truly if you'd like to dig deeper into your own pace and how it's serving you.