The Queen of Wands: a throne of watered-down fire (Part 1)

I’ve wanted to write a blogpost on the Queen of Wands for some time now. But each time I try, the images in the decks I have disappoint me. I’ve always believed that the King and Queen court cards represent two equals in a partnership. They are Yin and Yang – one cannot exist without the other.

But every time I look at the Queen of Wands in the Rider-Waite Deck (RWS), I am deeply disappointed.   Yes – she may the only queen that sits with her legs open (and an added black cat for ‘subtlety’) – but she’s still demure, restrained…and censored. She doesn’t have the fiery intensity I’d expect of someone who is supposed to be the King of Wands’ equal. Each time she pops up in a reading – whether it’s mine or someone else’s – all I want to do is roll my eyes at the image.

And then I met Vandana: a fellow tarot card reader. She did a reading for me recently using the Legacy of the Divine Deck. That’s when things finally clicked. I was spellbound by Ciro Marchetti’s Queen of Wands. She wears what she wants and does she wants. If you don’t like it – that’s your problem. But the thing that stuck with me was the look in her eyes. That intensity. That resilience. That… sensitivity.

The Queen of Wands in the Rider-Waite Deck

“In tarot and astrology,” Vandana says, “men are seen as natural masters of the element of Fire and Air while women are seen as the masters of Earth and Water. The Queen of Wands in tarot, therefore, is entering a realm that is not natural to her. Bit of a sexist definition. Women are capable of much, much more than just tending to the hearth fire.”

Amen to that. 

“My first tarot deck was the Rider-Waite-Smith deck,” Vandana says. “What struck me about the imagery in the Suit of Wands was that the Queen of Wands is the only distinctly female figure in there, and she doesn’t look particularly fiery.”

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Indeed, indeed. She is a reflection of how society likes the Queen of Wands type woman to behave. If she’s assertive – she must be subdued, tamed and domesticated. If that doesn’t work, why don’t we all just relegate her to the tomboy category. What say you?

“To me,” Vandana continues, “the RWS Queen of Wands looks somewhat like an office manager, with that business-like short hair-cut. I see her as someone who is, no doubt, highly individualistic but in rather traditional professions and corporate settings. Somehow, this definition of a fiery woman is limited in the sense that it defines her as fiery ONLY because she can hold her own in a male-dominated world.

“Also, the black cat in the picture has always struck me as a vague piece of imagery. Unlike the Strength card where the woman is taming a fierce lion, the cat here is not a symbol of inner strength and confidence. Maybe it just shows she’s an animal-lover. What do you think is missing in her? What would you add?”

Fire – that’s what’s missing in her. Fire. I very much think she has it in her – but it’s something that she’s hidden and subdued because society cannot appreciate or handle it in a woman. The same qualities we celebrate in men we demonise in women and vice versa.

So who is the Queen of Wands?

“All Queens in tarot are the essence of water – feminine and nurturing,” Vandana says. “The suit explains the way they express that energy. To me, the Queen of Wands is someone who is creative and nurturing but in a fiery way.

“She is that friend who drags you out shopping and for a night out on the town, when you are depressed. She is that family member who broke all rules of tradition by being a female rock star and you look up to her for her sheer gutsiness.

“She inspires you just by being.

“She doesn’t analyse your emotions or listen patiently to your litany of woes when you are going through a messy break-up. She just packs your bags and heads out with you on an adventurous trip. Have you ever met a real- life Queen of Wands?”

Vandana’s question makes me grin. The Queen of Wands in The Legacy of the Divine Deck reminds me of…myself. Oh yes.

I’d like to say this journey has been easy. But it hasn’t. How many women are encouraged to be the Queen of Wands? When we decide to be independent – marry late (if ever), make our own money, and go after what (and who) we want in a straightforward manner; people of both genders label us as aggressive and call us all kinds of nasty names. Both men and women seem to have a vested interest in forever dousing the fire in our hearts with water. 

But like the Queen of Wands in Ciro Marchetti’s deck – I will wear what I want, do what I want and live my life on my terms. And if other people don’t like it – well, that’s their problem.

Author: Dipa

Tarot Tales from Japan

11 thoughts

  1. Funny how women are supposed to be these sweet, docile creatures, isn’t it? You’d think it was fear that demands we stay like that. But that can’t be, because men are the fearless ones. 😉😇😎

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      1. Well, considering I’ve only used tarot as a social game, going simply by the picture, I’d agree with your description, tomboyish but there’s something missing. The cat, meh. Decorative at best. Or is it there to hint at potential sorcery? Wanda make things happen, yet she’s restrained. Why is she spreading her legs? It looks basic on anyone, male or female. I get a huge sense of repression.

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      2. Maybe this is a bit of a stretch – but you know how in many cultures people see a black cat as a symbol of bad luck? Could it have something to do with that?

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      3. True. But I’m thinking more witchcraft, which is the origin of the bad luck thing with cats. As though they’re saying, “trying to be free / yourself, it’s being a witch. Don’t do it.” Or, in a better way, people will see you this way. Beware. I’d even go so far as to say that the card could be a warning: be like that, or try and be like that, people will not be kind, it’ll be hard. So no, not a stretch at all.

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      4. Ah dear… the Queen of Wands couldn’t be further from the King of Wands… thankfully the RWS was made a while back. Unfortunately, the old hangups still linger…

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