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Five of Wands Meaning – Smith-Waite Centennial

Welcome back, tarot fans, to another week of Card of the Day deep-dives! This morning, we're looking at the Five of Wands card from the Smith-Waite Centennial deck, which is my favourite version of the iconic Rider-Waite-Smith style of tarot cards.

When we last explored Wands, the tarot symbol of fire and creative passion, we looked at the previous card of the suit. The Four of Wands is all about laying down your projects to appreciate what you have. And it also means sharing some joy with a friend or loved one—even if they're at a different stage of success than you.

Today's Five of Wands shows a very different side of the suit! As a single-card tarot reading in the upright position, it augurs a coming test of personal strength. So let's take a closer look.

The Five of Wands card from the Smith-Waite Centennial deck. Detailed card description in body text. Card pictured in a half-open bone inlay box on a blue-black background.

The Five of Wands in the Smith-Waite Centennial tarot deck

The Five of Wands card, naturally enough, depicts five figures. We see them engaged in a lively brawl, each one brandishing a green-leafed wand as a quarterstaff. This mêlée evokes the hostile side of the wands suit and reminds us that pursuing our creative passions can come at a cost—both to yourself and to others.

These five figures are dressed in leggings and tunics of garish colours, calling to mind the vivid hues of an artist's palette and the vivid brightness of the imagination. Also, they're standing in front of a cloudless, blue sky. Such a calm backdrop underscores that the confrontation we see in the Five of Cards is more akin to a competition, a measuring-up, than an actual fight.

And significantly, the characters in this card are standing on fertile earth. Green and yellowy grasses sprout from the soil, which the combatants have disturbed with their feet. The rich brown soil revealed by their antics suggests the right time to plant the seeds of creative potential—provided the earth is tilled properly by your hard work.

Are you ready to fight for what you believe in?

When the Eight of Swords came up as a Card of the Day back in January, we steeled ourselves for a test of our mental strength. But today, the Five of Wands is warning you to get ready for a different sort of test.

Now, following the Two of Wands reading, you're working hard to leave your mark on the world by expressing your imagination. And today, you're going to come up against a major roadblock in the form of other people. How do other people's projects threaten the work you're doing? Be on the lookout for potential clashes on this front. If you want to keep pursuing that creative spark of yours, you're going to need to defend your ideal to other people who might not think it's worthwhile.

There's no need to be pig-headed, but try to connect with your own motivations. If they're really worth pursuing, you'll come out of this scuffle unphased. Remember: the only person you need to convince that your work is valid is yourself.

An internal conflict as well as an external fight

That last point on stubbornness highlights another important aspect of the meaning behind the Five of Wands card: internal conflict. When we take up the torch to follow our dreams, we have to wrestle with our own inner demons as well as the naysayers who surround us all too often.

So how can you prepare yourself to fight this coming battle on two fronts? As with the external challenge, the remedy to your self-doubt and scattered thoughts is your own intuition. So take some time today to check in with yourself. Remember why it is you started working on your project in the first place, and see if you can lean into that powerful creative instinct. 

Does that same passion still live inside you? Take a deep breath, tune out the noise, and ask yourself again.

S.M. signature — Savanna Margaret's initials

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