While both the 5 of Swords and the 5 of Wands speak of battle, the 5 of Wands has more of a playful quality and less of the underhandedness seen in the 5 of Swords. It’s more of a fair fight, where one person will emerge as the rightful champion, fortified by the battle. Even the ‘losers’ of this fight though sore and bruised are likely to eventually heal and get stronger thanks to the struggle.
This is what A.E. Waite says about the 5 of Wands in his Pictorial Key to the Tarot:
A posse of youths, who are brandishing staves, as if in sport or strife. It is mimic warfare, and hereto correspond the Divinatory Meanings: Imitation, as, for example, sham fight, but also the strenuous competition and struggle of the search after riches and fortune. In this sense it connects with the battle of life. Hence some attributions say that it is a card of gold, gain, opulence. Reversed: Litigation, disputes, trickery, contradiction.
The Frideborg Tarot 5 of Wands have five ants competing against each other. Ants compete for the benefit of their entire collective. Sometimes they turn on each other to prevent overpopulation. There are no empty victories such as the ones seen in the 5 of Swords – only victories that strengthen the collective.
In Benebell Wen’s Spirit Keeper’s Tarot, the 5 of Wands is titled ‘The Contender.’ This is the spirit of the heir(ess) to the throne who has to prove their worth before they can ascend. Wen recommends pairing the 5 of Wands card with the 6 of Wands ‘The Champion’ in Tarot magick for certain success.
In the Giant Rider Waite Tarot, each rival wears a different colour jacket. Each one is striving to assert their individuality. Individuality is – in part – shaped through competition and having to bounce off our limitations. Those who compete daily against their own limitations continue to grow stronger and better able to handle what life throws at them.
Apart from an obvious connection to sports and sportsmanship, I also see the 5 of Wands as part of the natural creative process. The ants in the Frideborg Tarot are like the restless feeling I get when I feel blocked creatively. That means I have to level up to place myself in a state of creative flow once more and once I realised that, I have started seeing creative blocks as something that spurs me on to be better/reach higher rather than as something that’s ‘out to get me.’
The astrological correspondence for the 5 of Wands is Saturn (limitation) in Leo (creativity/playfulness/leadership).Competition is an easy way to get into flow. ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Click To Tweet
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