The Artist's Concept
A man wearing ragged blue jeans huddles in the foreground in the shadow of an ancient statue carved in a pose reflecting his own. Behind the statue are the ruins of what was perhaps once a castle or a cathedral or Ozymandius. * In the distance foothills crossed by a winding road that leads toward far-away mountains. The sun is setting behind the mountains. There are ten visible stars in the twilight sky (including the sun setting in fiery shades of gold and red).
Wands represent the fiery attributes of energy and passion and growth, but we all have limits and can find we've taken on more than we can carry. Wands' fire energy has weighted the man down with commitments and problems and at day's end he is worn out with the burdens he bears.
The traditional image of this card (in the Smith-Rider-Waite tradition) shows a man burdened
under by the weight of ten staves or wands. The heaviest burdens are not always physical but are more likely a net of endless responsibilities. These are family, financial, relationship and work commitments. Although not visible, they take the place of the ten rods or sticks in this card.
This does not mean that this is a "negative" card. As does every Tarot card, the Ten of Wands is part of a continuum offering challenges as well as shadows.
The man is wearing a red shirt, symbolic of the courage he has shown along the road he is following. Just as the twilight sky foretells the coming of the night, it holds the promise of the dawn to follow. A new day will offer new challenges.
The road in the distance to be followed leads into the hills and mountains, the future. Hills and mountains in the Tarot represent enlightenment. The hills are soft and near, but the mountains are distant and rugged, indicating that the path followed becomes both more challenging and more fun. There is potential for learning in this situation.
The man sits with his back to the future, but he is looking over his shoulder. He appears consumed with his burdens, but he must prepare for a new day. He must prioritize, let go.
Whether your interpretation is rational or intuitive, I think the "reversal" is inherent in the upright meaning of this card.
Finally, each Tarot card has potent symbols to enrich its meaning. They are always open to interpretation. I hope the reader can assign their own meanings to anything they find in this card.
Watercolor and ballpoint pen on Strathmore Aquarius II cold press surface watercolor paper.
* [Editor's note: Title of a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, which refers to the ruins of a former civilization. The poem begins: 'I once met a traveller from an antique land who said: two vast and trunkless legs of stone stand in the desert.' On the base of a statue is inscribed " My name is Ozymandius, look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair."]
Go back to the project index, read the traditional card meaning, or get a free tarot reading with this deck.