You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star. ― Friedrich Nietzsche
Visiting the first Five of the Minor Arcana on this blog, which again, is so surprising to me. People love to give Fives the stink eye. And perhaps with good reason, these words come to mind with Fives--chaos, upheaval, fear, deceit. The Fives appear quite dramatic in their artwork and symbols. Men fighting, people grieving, battle, and poverty. Fives of the Major Arcana show the Pope + the Devil. The Fives however reflect one concept-- Change. Change can be terribly upsetting and difficult, and on the other hand, it is the harbinger of grace, enlightenment, wisdom, deepening. The Fives follow the beautiful stability of the Four, so one must think of the Fives as upheaval--overturning the Four stable legs of the balance preceding it. What I always remind my Tarot students is that the Tarot is not punishing, and in my humble opinion, neither is the Divine. It is how we perceive our own attachments that causes our suffering, and nothing reflects that better than Fives.
The only thing that does not change in this world is that things change. Last time I talked about a Five with the Hierophant, I suggested you lay out the five of every suit and the fives of the Major Arcana (Some talk about the XIV as another five, while others include the Devil XV) and place all the five cards in a row. (This is a great exercise when you are learning how to read Tarot.) I also mentioned that one numerology article I read, associates Five with freedom, and the process of how we handle our own freedom. As we move from the Four, a number of stability and balance (the balance of four legs, rather than two), you really begin to understand the Five as the movement from stability to action. Does that make sense? We upset our stability for growth, and in that process, we encounter change, which feels like chaos and upset and upheaval.
So, specifically, let's talk about the Five of Wands. Wands is the suit of Fire, and in this way, the Five of Wands is seen within a creative project, new business, enterprise, romance, or other fiery endeavor. Often, but not always, this can be the creativity it takes to engage with your family of origin--how to creatively tamp the fiery feelings they might inspire in you. The figures on this card are each carrying a huge wand, sparring. Five boys, really. If you look closely, you see the sky is clear and blue, indicating that there is no storm, nothing outside oneself to suggest a force beyond your control. And the boys are dressed as the Fool. By that, I mean, they are not soldiers. They are not warriors. They are not even fighting for a team or an end. Each is trying to win against four. (Our struggle against stability, perhaps.) And so, this Five is sparring, rather than fighting. Play fighting, if you will. One of my Tarot students saw this card and said, "I love this card. It is so high energy and exciting." I loved that comment, because it is true. Blue skies. Sparring. Have you ever sparred? Or play fought? It gets out this aggression without injury. It helps you learn how to defend yourself. It teaches you about moving into a real fight.
The Four of Wands is a card with a graduation or celebration. A rite of passage. A balance of creative energy, ambition, follow-through, and completion. The Five looks like chaos after that stability, but it is actually a form of education too. Breaking out into the adult world of war, practicing with one's weapon and one's independence. Each boy stands with legs wide, balanced. No one is bleeding, or hurt. Yet we have to accept that this is not mock fighting to these boys, or a mere game, they are taking this seriously. Because the suit of Wands is a creative, fiery, passionate suit, you also assume the boys feel this way. They are passionate about winning and gaining advantage. Wands often deal with creative projects, new enterprises, passionate, or romantic conquest.
In a Tarot reading, when the Seeker pulls this card, we are looking at a struggle of some kind. Depending on the cards surrounding this one, it can be an internal struggle, like weighing whether or not to quit your job and start a new business. This kind of mental sparring can be very good for your decision-making. It means you are playing Devil's advocate with yourself and trying to look at all sides of an argument. And yet, it may not feel like a good thing to the Seeker. If the Nine of Swords comes up in the reading, for example, the Seeker may be up all night wrestling with this decision or argument in her head. Other cards that may indicate an internal struggle are the Four of Cups or the Four of Swords (cards with solitary figures).
If this card portends marital struggles, you may see the Two of Cups, the Lovers, or the Five of Pentacles. Or any card with the number Two. Balance between two people expresses itself through the Twos, so think of a one-on-one argument coming up that way. A Court Card might narrow down who that is. We also can see this card when there is family disagreements and struggles. Family of Origin issues often express themselves in the chaos of the Five of Wands. Its symbols lend perfectly to that environment, because our family still loves us, we just spar with them, butt heads, and often practice our independence there first.
This card often comes when conflict arises at work, or with a project. Maybe you are hitting walls with getting your project funded, or you are having tension and disagreements with your office mates. These kinds of arguments tend to be petty, or more personal in nature, rather than an issue where you are struggling for your job. In-fighting or rather fighting within your own team is a good way to put it. Discord in the ranks, so to speak. You can often get some indication of this through the surrounding cards if they are Pentacles, or Court Cards, when Spirit often tries to point or validate who we are struggling with. Again, Court Cards show us people in our life. And it is not that we don't know who we struggle with, it may just be that Spirit is validating. As always, don't discount the obvious on your cards. I once pulled this for someone in a martial arts competition the following weekend. So if nothing is fitting, ask if the Seeker is a boxer, fighter, martial artist, or practicing a sport where they are sparring. Or any team sport like soccer, football, or hockey.
Reversed this card indicates moving out of this kind of disagreement. Peace after fighting, or arguments, or maybe just the precursor to tell you that this phase of arguing is over. I often see this in marital readings where a couple has stopped bickering over a persistent topic. It can also mean that your Seeker would do well to go out and play some sports with other people, like join a softball league, or play tennis. Spirit takes opportunity to give us all kinds of messages.
I believe this card, and this is just my interpretation, comes before amazing breakthroughs at work and in your creative projects. It is the struggle of the work, often enough. It is the chaos before, as Nietzsche said, the artist gives birth to a dancing star. Approach chaos and struggle and fighting differently, more like the passionate fight for truth and beauty to reign, and this card becomes our liberator rather than our oppressor.