The 4 of Wands: A Celebration of Love and Life

It’s been a while since my last post as I’m still trying to reconcile the ups and downs of October with the mounting pressures of November. Sullen skies and endless rain have been the saving grace to a tumultuous past five weeks, and this Gothic heart delights in the darkened afternoons that remind me so much of Melbourne winters.  Though I’ve left much behind and come away that much the richer for it, there are times when I look back and wonder where I might be today if I hadn’t decided to close that chapter in my life. The last week of October provided much respite from the (un)welcome gloom that seemed to permeate the rest of the month: I finally found a publisher for my collection of dark-themed short fiction and poetry (woohoo!).  A major milestone to be sure, since Necromantique‘s inception in April.  I await its release with bated breath as much as I hunger for the close of 2011, when the bright horizons of 2012 beckon like a siren’s song.  In keeping with the joys of my recent success and what I hope will be a natural completion to an unexpected creative endeavor undertaken in the beginning half of the year, what card better to commemorate these wishes than the magical 4 of Wands?

As the final card of the Minor Arcana’s numerological suit of the fours, the 4 of Wands comes as a much-needed breath of fresh air after the challenges and frustrations (internal and external) of its other brethren. With the 4 of Cups, we were faced with issues of emotional stagnation, with the 4 of Swords mental unrest requiring withdrawal from our outer and inner worlds, and blockages surrounding our perceptions of material stability with the 4 of Pentacles.  As the element of Fire, the 4 of Wands merges the stability and achievement of the fours with the qualities of Fire, which include passion, ambition, creativity and spirituality.  Grand ideals and the lust for adventure are tempered with reason and discipline; a synthesis of charisma and enthusiasm that manifests into something productive and tangible. An inherently positive card, the 4 of Wands represents a celebration of one’s skills and talents, melding a need for personal and professional development with social success.

4 of Wands from the 'Fenestra Tarot'

Rider-Waite style depictions of the 4 of Wands typically show a scene in which revelry and celebration takes place against a brightly-colored backdrop.  Tents and banners fly in the wind while people in rich frocks dance in the foreground, smiles on their lips and joy in their hearts. Absent from the 4 of Wands is the frivolous abandon of the 3 of Cups; in the former, celebration has a clear purpose, not drinking and merry-making for the sake of the activity itself as evidenced in the latter.  This is a card that portends great happiness on both a personal and social level, and is particularly welcomed by those employed in the arts due to its links with creativity, success and celebration.  Its appearance in a spread can mean any number of good things connected to the arts, important rites of passage, and the celebration of love and happiness in one’s life.  On a more esoteric level, the 4 of Wands also represents completion. Unlike Death, which often brings about a forced sort of ending to the relationships and situations in one’s life, the 4 of Wands represents completion of a more joyous and prosperous nature, be it the success of a personal project or the natural close to a chapter in one’s life. Here, the 4 of Wands can be interpreted as the achievement of important milestones in a person’s life.  Some sources also note that this card can coincide which actual physical movement in a person’s life, whether it is a change of residence or a relocation to a foreign land. In the context of celebration, the 4 of Wands is most commonly associated with births, graduations and engagements; in essence, any event that is worthy of celebrating the journey known as life.

4 of Wands from the 'Thoth' Tarot

Astrological Association:  Venus in Aries.

In the Thoth tarot, the 4 of Wands is titled Completion.  In keeping with the numerological theme of the 4’s, attainment, success and achievement are emphasized.  The wheel, in its most basic sense, represents the natural conclusion of any given cycle in a person’s life, be it a situation, a relationship, or a process.  Its circular nature symbolizes endings and beginnings; a rhythm as old as time itself.  Each of the six rods that cross to meet at the center can point to how diverging courses in life ultimately unite to bring us closer to the person we want to be.  The achievement of personal meaning and fulfillment are the crux of these individual journeys, where heart and mind become united in perfect syzygy.

The rams and doves adorning each tip of the 3 pairs of rods are symbolic of Mars (Aries) and Venus respectively.  A marriage of two opposing yet complementary forces is the result: aggression (Mars) with love (Venus), gentleness with will, and force with diplomacy. Their meeting in the middle shows how two contradicting forces can be tempered to produce a mutually beneficial, harmonious outcome for all involved.  In one of the most comprehensive tomes ever dedicated to the tarot, author Angeles Arrien observes how the wheel can be interpreted as a merging of Eastern and Western thought-forms.  If seen in the guise of a mandala (a Tibetan symbol of spiritual healing) and merged with more common perceptions of the wheel as a Western medicine wheel, the integration of differing viewpoints can be effected.  The ultimate result is a sense of wholeness and individuation that honors the different realities that make up our understanding of the world and our role(s) in it.

4 of Wands from the 'Shadowscapes Tarot'

In the context of a love spread, the 4 of Wands signifies a deepening of bonds. If dating, there could be a decision to commit, and if in a relationship, both parties could soon find themselves living together.  This cards signifies the maturation of romance, with an added element of celebration. Whether this natural evolution in the course of a couple’s relationship takes the form of cohabitation or an engagement/ marriage, the news is much welcome and results in much rejoicing.  This card augurs well for all romantic and platonic undertakings.

With regards to career, the 4 of Wands is similarly positive.  Often times, the appearance of this card predicts a promotion or a relocation in conjunction with better job prospects.  Artists and those working in events could find a greater demand for their talents and services.  From a financial standpoint, the 4 of Wands suggests that income is derived from creative and artistic pursuits. This card favors those who are employed (or seeking employment) in fields related to entertainment, the media, and other forms of creative expression.  If a writer, this card suggests that it won’t be long before your manuscript is accepted for publication.  If an event planner, the 4 of Wands foretells of a busy time ahead with weddings, engagements and Bar Mitzvahs just around the corner. Regardless of how tiring the work can be, passion and a natural love for the job  are the only motivation needed to keep you on your current path.  Either way, your efforts begin to pay off and even if the monetary rewards are nothing to crow about, you can be assured of immense emotional and spiritual fulfillment.

On a social level, the 4 of Wands can signify a period in one’s life where attending reunions, parties and other festive gatherings take precedence over the toil of work and other mundane responsibilities. More importantly, it shows a time when love, and the various other trappings of life, are celebrated for the gifts they really are. On the whole, this is a card of pleasure and happiness where freedom, fun and fulfillment reign supreme.  While the 4 of Wands can also represent the closing of one or more chapters in a person’s life, this is viewed as a natural evolution – an inevitable conclusion – in the soul’s journey. These changes, though often-times intense and dramatic, are greeted with joy rather than with pain. Creative potential and the blossoming of other structures in life are indicated, as are the corresponding rewards of our efforts bearing fruit.

In conclusion, I view the 4 of Wands as a card of beauty, magic, and wonder.  Its message is simple yet profound: celebrate each moment and take delight in life’s most unexpected surprises. Live life to the fullest and cherish each day as if it were your last.  Honor passion and honor the creative impulse for each little spark guides us on to greater treasures of the heart and spirit, and brings us one step closer to the Divine in each one of us.

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