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The Three 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 Three of Wands is about foresight. You can see the battlefield before you clearly. Right now is the time to be a leader. Are you ready to take on the competition, or do you need to be more cunning?

The Three of Wands is about foresight. You can see the battlefield before you clearly. Right now is the time to be a leader. Are you ready to take on the competition, or do you need to be more cunning?

The Three of Wands

Three flames to rule the world. Three wands to carry them. Three kings to carry the light.

With each higher card in the Suit of Wands, the fire grows bigger. It becomes more challenging to contain and direct it. This is a sign that you must pace yourself. Your goal is to master the Suit of Wands.

Natural Progression in the Cards

The Three of Wands connects to the previous card (the Two of Wands), which has similar imagery. A man in a red outfit is standing on a balcony and looking out at a vista. He is in his comfort zone in a castle where his needs are met. However, he holds a globe and can envision his future.

In the Three of Wands, a man in a red outfit has gone into nature. He stands on an edge and stares at the sea. His journey has only just begun, but he has taken the first steps to get to his destination.

Card Alignments

Upright

Achievement, progress, expansion, fresh starts, long-term success, partnerships, trade, overseas trip, foresight, attack plan, deliberate, the god Mercury, well equipped for a quest.

Reversed

Lack of foresight, unexpected delays, lack of confidence, hiding, secrecy, cunning, misleading, rethinking plans, turning back to go home, disruptions, recalibrating, avoiding major challenges.

The Three of Wands is about taking the right steps to accomplish your goals. It indicates that your ambition is active. You've taken a seat at the table to play the game.

The Three of Wands is about taking the right steps to accomplish your goals. It indicates that your ambition is active. You've taken a seat at the table to play the game.

Card Description

In the Rider-Waite-Smith version of the card, a young man is in armor. He has on a red robe and a green sash. Most of his armor is covered.

The man stands between three sticks and places his hand on the stick that's the farthest from him. The sticks have flora growing on them, and they are a sign that he will have victory over his opponents.

This man is important. He wears shoes and fine clothing, along with a golden circlet. He is wearing two dominant colors: red and green. Red represents his initial idea or dream, and green represents his strategy. His outfit altogether indicates he has married his ideas to a structured plan.

Symbolism of Color

  • Red is a representation of energy, creativity, desire, free will, and ambition. The color represents instinct and activity. Red goes with the Suit of Wands.
  • Green represents organization. Green is a representation of the body, physical manifestation, the tangible, and the five senses. Green goes with the Suit of Pentacles.

The Three of Wands is often associated with merchants and traders. Some see the figure as a traveling merchant. Others might see him as a noble or a knight in disguise. My take is that he is a knight in disguise.

Three ships are sailing in the distance. The man is heading toward the water, where he'll have to consider the emotions of others. He watches everything from a cliff and can see everything that lies ahead.

Wand Cards and Leadership

The Suit of Wands represents fire. This element is known as the one that inspires leaders. Fire is the first to arrive in Western astrology. Heraclitus, the ancient Greek philosopher, believed that in the beginning, there was fire. It was the first element, and the others came from it.

The fire cards often have to do with battles, knights, powerful figures, and wars. The cards encourage you to take action, to trust your instincts, and to strategize. The fire and air cards are more about action; the earth and water cards are more about resources.

Fire = Wands

Earth = Pentacles

Air = Swords

Water = Cups

Manifesting Your Goals

Fire is what gives you the desire to chase after your goals. You want to harness this energy for good and to inspire others to get on board with worthy causes. Those with fire on their side have the power to change the tides. They can bring justice to those who need it. They get involved and don't sit around and wait for things to happen. They know if they don't go and do something, no one is going to do it for them.

Those with a lot of fire in their natal charts care less about people's feelings and more about getting the job done. These people are competitive and energetic. They can be creative or destructive depending on how they temper their energy.

The Call for a Worthy Leader

The Three of Wands is the first card in the suit where there is a push for smart leadership. The Ace of Wands is about the birth of an incredible idea. The Two of Wands is about marrying that idea to a strong plan.

The Three of Wands is about a leader who can carry the plan from beginning to end. This is your trusted knight.

Look back at the Three of Wands in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. The man is pretending to be a merchant. If you look at his arm, you notice his knight's armor. The man is using his cunning to get a good look at the battlefield before him. If he believes his troops can overpower the competition, they'll march forward. If he doesn't believe his troops can overpower the enemy, he will think of something new to outwit them.

Leadership develops when there is a worthy cause. If there is something that makes you feel passionate, something you feel hasn't been done yet, or a group that needs your support, then you're connecting with your leadership role.

Manage Your Ego

Be careful that your ego doesn't take advantage of you. A big ego will prevent you from seeing and hearing what you need to know to get forward. An ego can bury you. It can make you think you're too great for something, or on the flip side, that you're not good enough.

Tarot Suits

CategoryWandsPentaclesSpadesCups

Color

Red

Green

Yellow

Blue

Represents

Free will

Physical Manifestation (The Body)

Thoughts

Emotions

Animals

Land Mammals

Reptiles

Birds

Fish

Music

Percussion

Brass

Woodwinds

Strings

Numbers

1, 5, 9

2, 6, 10

3, 7, 11

4, 8, 12

Season

Summer

Spring

Winter

Fall

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

Ruling Planets

Mars, Sun, Jupiter

Mercury, Venus, Saturn

Mercury, Venus, Uranus

Moon, Pluto, Neptune

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

Yin and Yang

Yang

Yin

Yang

Yin

Poker Equivalents

Clubs

Diamonds

Swords

Hearts

Court Cards

Knights

Pages

Kings

Queens

The rabbit is keeping watch. They know that time is sensitive. It's important to follow time in order to achieve your goals.

The rabbit is keeping watch. They know that time is sensitive. It's important to follow time in order to achieve your goals.

Upright Three of Wands

When in the upright position, this card signifies that your plans are well underway. You're taking action on your dreams. You know exactly what you want, and you have a really good understanding of the battlefield ahead of you. You have the right elements to win.

At this time, you want to maximize your potential. You want to expand your current strategy. You can do more than you realize for the betterment of yourself and possibly others.

The upright Three of Wands is a sign that everything is progressing as it should. You have prepared well for this moment, and your ongoing drive should bring you success.

Prioritize Your Education

The Three of Wands predicts there will be opportunities to expand your knowledge. Now is the time to study, travel, and take on a business enterprise. You have the power to learn. You will be a stronger asset if you have more knowledge.

You must stay committed to your path if you want to awaken your full potential. Be prepared to stretch your comfort zone. You will run into challenges, even setbacks, but it's not the battle you're trying to win—you're here to win the war.

Don't limit yourself. There is more you can do than you realize. Keep your eyes open for possibilities. Try different avenues. Do everything you can to be smarter, faster, and stronger.

Open doors. Don't burn your bridges. Keep your reputation up. Be charismatic. Don't leave a trail of destruction behind you.

Allow Yourself to Have Foresight

This card is all about foresight. The man on the card can see the entirety of the vista before him. He stands on a cliff where his vantage point is maximized. You want to take your ambitions, desires, and goals and marry them to foresight. When you have a really good understanding of the big picture then you can navigate the details.

Have you played Zelda Breath of the Wild? One of the best ways to get a handle on the game is to climb towers and mountains to get a good view of the surrounding areas. The Three of Wands is Link. He is a mysterious traveler who knows how to handle a blade. He looks at the big picture to figure out where to go next. He isn't someone with a lot of words: he is 100% action.

Travel In Your Future

The Three of Wands is often an indication of travel. You might go overseas or over a body of water. You're encouraged to be adventurous and to go on trips. When you travel, you learn more about the world, how to socialize, and how to find new opportunities.

Three flames to guide you into the night. Three torches to carry the flames. Three people to hold the torches. This is the way of the Three of Wands.

Three flames to guide you into the night. Three torches to carry the flames. Three people to hold the torches. This is the way of the Three of Wands.

Reversed Three of Wands

A reversed Three of Wands could mean that you're rethinking your game plan because you've learned something new. You may have seen something on the battlefield you didn't like and feel as though you need to change your game plan.

You may realize you've left something at home and need to turn back to find it. Right now isn't the time to charge forward. This could be a sign that you need to recalibrate. You've got to reset if you want to win.

Warning Sign

The Reversed Three of Wands doesn't suggest you're in trouble (at least, not at the moment). The card encourages you to look around for warning signs. You're missing something. You need to double-check your work. If you don't do something now, you could jeopardize your future.

The point of this card is to recognize that your foresight is telling you something is wrong. For some reason, you're not seeing it; your intuition is clogged. You could have the wool over your eyes, or you're too arrogant to recognize flaws.

You don't want to send your troops into battle if they're ill-prepared. Now is the time to divert your plans. Use secrecy and hiding to your advantage. You want to be active in your mind right now, not necessarily your body.

Momentary Setbacks

You might feel disappointed by setbacks, but try to stay focused. The war isn't over until it's over. If you still have a fighting chance, use your cunning to help you get ahead. Your enemies are capable. You may have a chance to fool them because you're aware that they're seeking you.

Take what you notice seriously. You may need to return to a place and regroup with others to effectively come up with a new strategy. In the Upright position, the man on the card is facing the battlefield and is ready to stomp out his enemies. In the Reversed position, he is turning back. He knows something is wrong, so instead of putting himself in harm's way, he is using his time to outwit his foes.

Don't Switch Gears Because of Anxiety

You want to make sure you're changing plans because of new information that indicates there is trouble. Don't change plans just because you feel like it or because you're anxious. You have to understand your underlying motivations.

Are the risks in front of you reasonable or unrealistic? Are you equipped to handle the competition? Don't get stage fright just because you realize the size of your quest.

Assess your new risks. Consider your options. Be a fearless leader. You mustn't be easily shaken or stirred. You're a commanding force. You are powerful and capable of defending and carrying out your goals.

Stay the course of strength. Be cunning, not fearful. Be shrewd, not wishy-washy. Be courageous, not willowy.

Use your resources wisely and follow a strong game plan. Don't just go into the battlefield and expect to figure out your way on the fly. Gain the advantage. Flip the script.

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