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The Five of Wands in Tarot and How to Read It

Andrea has a background in Myers-Briggs and Western astrology. She mostly writes about relationships.

The Five of Wands is about conflict and raised tensions. Chaos is king. You can outmaneuver the situation if you think carefully. Resist the temptation to mirror your enemies.

The Five of Wands is about conflict and raised tensions. Chaos is king. You can outmaneuver the situation if you think carefully. Resist the temptation to mirror your enemies.

A Quick Lesson on the Suit of Wands

There is a story arc to the Suit of Wands, so let's do a quick review of the prior cards. I think seeing the big picture will help you to better read the cards and their images.

The Ace of Wands has to do with a new idea and is usually the beginning of a creative venture. The Two of Wands has to do with marrying that idea to a plan. The Three of Wands is about taking the first steps to put that plan into action.

The Four of Wands is a plot twist. This card represents newlyweds, weddings, and marriage and is a positive card in a relationship reading. It could also be seen as the first victory along the way to completing your grand vision.

Then we arrive at the Five of Wands, which is your first real problem card in the suit. It's about being overwhelmed by too many distractions. Tensions are raised, and if you're not careful, you will forge enemies. You need to think carefully about your opposition and the hurdles in the way of your master plan.

The Significance of the Fifth Card

Five is an awkward number. It's not easy to manage it in a lot of situations, and it makes for funny-looking shapes. It tends to highlight one person in a group as the oddball.

From the awkwardness of the number, tensions are raised. The number accelerates competition and can make it noticeable when things aren't unifying.

Five is the power number of Leo, the fixed fire sign. It's as if Leo is hinting that you need to find comfortability in awkward positions. Take it as a sign that you can shine as a leader. A smart person can turn an awkward situation into a charismatic one.

Five of Wands

I call this card the "Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen" card. Several people are all in each other's space. Everyone is in disagreement about what needs to be done. Everyone is holding a stick, and they're fighting each other.

This card indicates unbridled energy and communication breakdowns. Think of a battlefield where everyone is charging toward whatever they want. It's pure chaos. Everything gets tangled because every player is trying to pick a different direction. The results will be mixed, and there will be losses on all sides.

On the other hand, this could be a great way to confuse and overpower your enemies. Confusion is a great battle tactic.

If your plan is so chaotic and scrambled that your enemies can't figure out what is happening, then you could secure the upper hand. Coordinated attacks on the battlefield can be powerful; however, this doesn't really look like a coordinated attack. It looks like a bunch of berserkers or barbarians marching toward what they want and doing whatever they want. (Barbarians in the past did sometimes outwit coordinated armies.)

Card Alignments

Upright

Tension, diversity, overwhelmed, upset, disagreements, competition, conflict, anxiety, struggle, strife, unrest, too much activity, chaos, distraught, crowded, stampede.

Reversed

Conflict avoidance, tension release, inner conflict, cunning, shying away, using darkness to your advantage, sly, escaping, disguised, secrecy, toning things down.

Everyone wants to be their own special starfish with their own special idea. The problem? No one is agreeing. Everyone is shouting and trying to make their vision happen. Someone needs to make a compromise.

Everyone wants to be their own special starfish with their own special idea. The problem? No one is agreeing. Everyone is shouting and trying to make their vision happen. Someone needs to make a compromise.

Read More From Exemplore

Five of Wands Description

In the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, the Five of Wands shows five men standing in a field. They fight each other with sticks. They lift up their wands, but no one is getting hurt . . . at least yet.

There is no real purpose to the fighting, and it is also not clear what the outcome will be. Each man wears a different outfit, which signifies that they all have different backgrounds and beliefs. Because of their differences, they can't find common ground.

The colors of their clothes represent the four elements. Red represents fire, green represents earth, yellow represents air, and blue represents water.

The differing elements are competing for attention. The mind and heart are pulling in different directions. Everything gets blurry, and it becomes hard to discern what is what. In this way, the elements all start to feel like the same thing. None of the elements are resisting the battle; therefore, none of them really steal the focus.

None of the characters on the card command focus. They're all caught up in their own desires.

Tarot Suits

CategoryWandsPentaclesSwordsCups

Element

Fire

Earth

Air

Water

Represents

Free will

Physical Manifestation (The Body)

Thoughts

Emotions

Color

Red

Green

Yellow

Blue

Animals

Land Mammals

Reptiles

Birds

Fish

Music

Percussion

Brass

Woodwinds

Strings

Numbers

1, 5, 9

2, 6, 10

3, 7, 11

4, 8, 12

Seasons

Summer

Spring

Winter

Fall

Ruling Planets

Mars, Sun, Jupiter

Mercury, Venus, Saturn

Mercury, Venus, Uranus

Moon, Pluto, Neptune

The Body

Head, Heart, Thighs

Throat/Neck, Chest, Legs/Shins

Arms & Shoulders, Belly, Ankles

Hands, Root Chakra (Spine Base), Feet

Four Humors

Yellow Bile

Black Bile

Blood

Phlegm

Western Astrology

Aries, Leo, Sagittarius

Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

Gemini, Libra, Aquarius

Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

Chinese Zodiac

Dragon, Monkey, Rat

Snake, Rooster, Ox

Horse, Dog, Tiger

Sheep, Pig, Rabbit

Court Cards

Knight

Page

King

Queen

Poker Equivalents

Clubs

Diamonds

Spades

Hearts

Five represents conflict in tarot. When the number appears, it means there are rising tensions. It's an unstable situation, and it's unclear what will happen next. Stay focused so you can reap the hidden rewards.

Five represents conflict in tarot. When the number appears, it means there are rising tensions. It's an unstable situation, and it's unclear what will happen next. Stay focused so you can reap the hidden rewards.

Upright Five of Wands

Whenever you see the number five in tarot, it means there is conflict or change occurring. Therefore, the Five of Wands indicates trouble with energy, action, and free will. You're in a heated competition with others. You're not feeling secure about your goals because of all the competition.

You're trying to make your way to the other side. You want to be focused on your goal, but there are all these other things that are in opposition to you. Since everyone is fighting to be heard no one is listening. The best thing you can do is change course. Don't give into the energy of those around you. Throwing yourself into the ring isn't going to solve anything. You'll just get more tangled.

When you see everyone using the same tactic to no avail that means you need to do something different. Be more cutting edge. If everyone is talking, listen. If everyone is listening, then make some noise.

Observe Your Surroundings Carefully

Your viewpoint will be respected if you wait for the correct opportunity. If you try to make your point heard when there is a lot of action taking place then you're likely going to be overlooked. This is why it's important to consider timing.

Would you add more noodles to a pot that's already boiling and overflowing? No. That would be stupid. Just the same, you should look for moments in life where you can tell the metaphorical pot is boiling and overflowing. You don't want to add your noodles then.

Know your environment. If it's the right place for you then your ideas will flourish. If it's a bad match then your ideas won't be successful; your plans will never take off. If you've ever been in a bad job before then you know how hard it is to express your opinions and be heard. You're often relegated to the side.

If you find yourself on the bench or the sidelines, you should consider leaving and joining a group that will appreciate your efforts more. Also, know that people get relegated to the side for all kinds of reasons. Don't take it personally, and be pragmatic about finding something where you can show your strengths.

If it's not the right environment, don't wait for it to become right. Perhaps you should look for another job because your current workplace is holding you back. You might have to step out of your comfort zone to get what you truly desire.

Differences Can Be Managed

The Five of Wands reminds you that people have different views and feelings. Diversity is a good thing. Don't run away from people just because they're different. You want to stir up unity not discord. You need an environment of sharing, not separation.

Don't rely only on people who think the same as you. Echo chambers have narrow viewpoints that can be damaging.

Get to know the people around you and remember that each person has something to offer. Learn from each other. Don't discredit others just because they have different experiences or methods.

Stay Focused Despite the Circumstances

Stay optimistic, focused, and sharp. Look for opportunities now. Don't get dismayed by tensions, and also don't get dragged into them. Drama is often merely a distraction from what actually needs to be done.

What you and those around you need right now is clarity. You can't force this. You have to be patient. Some people may have to compromise. Try not to be so stubborn. The viewpoints around you that seem too different could be reasonable enough to merge together.

Losing Purpose

The card could also indicate that you're losing your sense of meaning. You're not really sure what is the point of pursuing your ideas, ambitions, or the like. You might be too distracted by other things to really know what you want.

You're also easily taken over by the interests of others. It's too easy to take advantage of you. It's easy to get a rise out of you. You don't know how to hold onto solid ground, so once people start yelling and getting angry, you join in.

You're too easily swayed by anger. There might be a part of you that finds confrontation fun. You should really take a deeper look at your goals. You should pursue them even when they don't spark a fire in you. You will sometimes run into dry spells where you're not as inspired.

If you really believe in your goals then you can navigate through a rough patch. Just remember: a cacophony of voices won't lead to a real outcome. You'll just be in a headlock debating over the details and never accomplishing anything.

The Five of Wands is about diverse views. These can be merged together if the different parties are willing; however, at the moment everyone is shouting over each other. The purpose has become muddy; the outcome is meaningless.

The Five of Wands is about diverse views. These can be merged together if the different parties are willing; however, at the moment everyone is shouting over each other. The purpose has become muddy; the outcome is meaningless.

Reversed Five of Wands

When this card is in the reversed position, it could be an invitation to recognize that to get through a rough patch, you'll have to resist shouting matches and arrogant displays. Perhaps you're working more in the shadows to overpower your enemies, similar to Dick Cheney.

In the upright Five of Wands, everyone is jumping into the thick of the action and making their voices heard. It's like Wall Street on steroids. In the reversed Five of Wands, you're more connected to your subconscious, and you push conflict away and dance around it in a cunning manner.

Imagine the following scenario: You're going on a big adventure, and you're about to leave an airport when you get sidelined by a whole bunch of people trying to get you to buy a timeshare. The reversed Five of Wands is like someone who ignores all those people and just keeps walking. They pick up their luggage, and they exit the building. This person has the right instincts to ignore pointless confrontations.

Sometimes when you see a whole bunch of people fighting you know it's just pointless, scatterbrained nonsense. So don't get involved. The reversed Five of Wands indicates that you're smart about releasing yourself from unnecessary obstacles, and you do a good job of staying focused.

Serenity Now

This card indicates you have found peace within yourself. You're confident and know how to take action. You're a worthy opponent because you're not easily manipulated and you bypass obstacles with style. People will eventually notice, and they'll be in awe of you.

It can create an enormous amount of tension when those around you are fighting. You might have to do something you don't want to do. Don't stay in a toxic environment; it will never serve you. Use your intelligence to navigate toward something better.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2021 Andrea Lawrence

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