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King of Wands Meaning – Smith-Waite Centennial

Wands are back with the stately King of Wands turning up in our weekly free tarot reading for the collective! This card is all about authenticity and personal power. Are you feeling resilient right now? And if not, how can you tap into your own inner strength?

I unpack the symbols and meaning of the King of Wands below. Next, I share two main takeaways that this card invites you to carry with you for the rest of the week.

King of Wands tarot card from the Rider-Waite deck, pictured with a crystal bracelet. You'll find a detailed image description of this tarot card in the body text of this post.

The King of Wands card in the Smith-Waite Centennial deck

One striking feature of the King of Wands is the pronounced shift in perspective compared to the other kings we've looked at so far. While the luxurious King of Pentacles faces us head-on and the intuitive King of Cups looks lightly forward, our King of Wands is totally in profile, facing 90º away from us. This angle means distance between this figure and the world. It tells us that the King of Wands holds himself apart. While his open posture and stately bearing aren't uninviting, this perspective suggests that the King of Wands doesn't depend on others for his strength.

In this way, the King of Wands radiates an inner confidence that's quite unlike the two other kings we've looked at here on the Card of the Day blog. While the King of Pentacles derives his power from the abundance and comfort surrounding him, the King of Cups draws strength from his own deep emotional wisdom. This latter power is symbolized by the mercurial waters that keep the figure afloat. However, the King of Wands' power is his inner resilience—and this difference is fitting for the passionate suit of Wands.

Do you notice the lizard there in the foreground of this tarot card? It's actually a salamander. And the motif of salamanders repeats in the King of Wands' throne and princely cloak. As we saw with the lively Page of Wands, this tarot suit is associated with both fire and salamanders. Why? Because in medieval times, folks thought salamanders could live in fire, unburnt inviting associations with mythic dragons. Folklore suggests that these little beasties were born in fire and totally resistant to it, and the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot cards celebrate this symbolism. 

The impulsive fire element is also represented in the King of Wands' flame-shaped crown. So the Wand in his right hand might seem like a humble sceptre for a king. But, coupled with all this fire imagery, it actually suggests the figure's mastery over creation and destruction. Lord of the flames, he holds in his hand what he chooses to leave unburnt. And his lizard companion—and everything about this king's clothing and throne—tells us that he himself is fireproof. Thus, the King of Wands is not only immensely powerful. Also, his power stems from his own passionate being, and he's as resilient as he is strong.

Finding your own inner strength

Like the King of Wands himself, this week's one-card tarot reading has two main takeaways. The first is that this is a time to step into your own inner power.

So often, we consider ourselves through the lens of other people. We like what other people like about us, and we want to fix or improve on any flaws in ourselves that the people around us have pointed out. This tendency isn't inherently bad, of course. We're social creatures, and it's important to consider our impact on others and how we can practice gentle kindness toward them. 

But it's also important not to eclipse our own perspective. You know yourself best, and you might see your strengths and differences very differently than the people around you. The King of Wands invites you to consider these differences this week. How would you think of yourself if you tuned out, for a moment, everything you know about how people perceive you? Try to get a sense, however vague, of what fuels your inner fire and where your personal power comes from.

This week, that power is growing. The King of Wands card means this is a wonderful time to gain a deeper understanding of yourself by looking at your innermost passions. Indulge your whims, and listen to what they say about you.

Honouring your own resilience

The second part of this week's tarot reading is all about celebrating the endurance that has brought you to this point in your life. Creative power isn't always about striking out. We discussed the more passive side of passion with last week's Nine of Wands reading—and its invitation to rest and gather strength. Similarly, the King of Wands reminds you that your power isn't just defined by how you can express yourself and shape the world. It also manifests in your resilience. Think of all the storms you've weathered without burning out.

The King of Wands' appearance in a one-card reading can serve as a warning that you're forgetting just how adaptable and strong you are. This week, see if you can take some time to actively remind yourself of all the challenges you've overcome. The King of Wands tells you that when the hard times come again, you will walk through the fires unburnt. What would it feel like to trust yourself?

S.M.