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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ten of Wands - Astrological Associations (by Zanna)


Astrological associations for the Minor Arcana cards typically involve both a planet and a zodiac sign. The attributions established by the Order of the Golden Dawn (OGD) are by far the most commonly used. However, some Tarot decks use a different set of associations. As a professional astrologer, I find it interesting to compare and contrast these associations from deck to deck. The use of astrological associations with Tarot is completely up to the reader. This is merely intended to be interesting and fun. 

Credits for the decks and books mentioned in this post can be found HERE

Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley

For Crowley (and the OGD), the Ten of Wands represents the energy of the planet Saturn (lessons, limitations) and the zodiac sign Sagittarius (a mutable Fire sign). Crowley titles the card "Oppression." He writes: "This is what happens when one uses force, force, and nothing else but force all the time. Here looms the dull and heavy planet Saturn weighing down the fiery, ethereal side of Sagittarius; it brings out all the worst in Sagittarius."  

Hajo Banzhaf and Brigitte Theler (in Keywords for the Crowley Tarot) describe the energy of the card as: "blockage, inhibition, suppression (Saturn) of enthusiasm, power of conviction, life philosophy, expansion (Sagittarius)." In a birth chart, having Saturn in Sagittarius can delay success until lessons are learned, specifically the lessons of patience and perseverance. This combination can also create inner conflict as the native finds himself struggling to maintain order and security while at the same time he longs to seek adventure or challenge.

On the Thoth Ten of Wands, two larger, heavier rods seem to literally weigh down or "oppress" the other eight rods. Flames burn beneath the rods, a sign that the fire of Sagittarius has not been completely stamped out.

One World Tarot by Crystal Love

Crystal Love associates the Ten of Batons with the third subdivision of the sign Sagittarius, with Jupiter as the natural ruler and Saturn as the subruler. This provides a configuration similar to that used by Crowley and the OGD. Love writes: "The naturally expansive and jovial nature of Sagittarius is made more cautious, serious, and sober by the influence of Saturn." On the whole, this carries more of a positive connotation (to my ear anyway) than Crowley's "force, force, and nothing else but force all the time." Love includes the possibility of delays or setbacks in her interpretation of the Ten of Wands, but also emphasizes the potential benefits of combining Saturn's determination and the optimistic style of Sagittarius.

A.E. Thierens, PhD. (Astrology & the Tarot)

Thierens describes the Ten of Wands as having the energy of "Air on the house of Capricorn: the Tenth." This makes sense in that the Ten of Wands is the tenth card in the suit of Wands. In astrology, the Tenth house (House of Career and Public Standing) is associated with the zodiac sign Capricorn, an Earth sign ruled by Saturn. Once again we see an association of Saturn with the Ten of Wands.

Thierens notes that the Ten of Wands is traditionally associated with such keywords as "treachery, disguise, obstacle, surprise, difficulties, oppression." The keywords Thierens himself assigns include: "Karma, obedience, executive ability, production and reproduction, necessity; officials and official position.". . . duplicity, falsehood, unreliability, disguise, double-dealing, false appearance, lies and false diplomacy, etc. Oppression and overestimating the importance of things." This last key phrase seems, in some ways, to come out of the blue. We're talking about lies and deception and oppression -- and suddenly we have "overestimating the importance of things." This is very much in keeping with Saturn's nature (sober, serious, cautious), but it is interesting to see a reference to the potential for making something out to be more significant than it is. 

(Note: The system devised by Thierens is radically different from that of the OGD. I will not go into detail here, but will simply provide the astrological associations for the card under discussion. If you are interested in learning more about this system, I recommend the book referenced above.)

The Mandala Astrological Tarot by A.T. Mann

Like the OGD, Mann's deck associates the suit of Wands with the element Fire. Mann describes Wands Eight, Nine, and Ten as "The Rainbows of Sagittarius." Wand Ten is assigned to the Third Decan of Sagittarius -- Sun in Sagittarius. On the King Scale of Color, the Sun is linked with the orange and gold and Sagittarius is linked with blue. Mann's keywords for the Sun are "Spirit, consciousness, individuality, masculine principle, dignity, honour." For the sign Sagittarius, his keywords are "hibernation; advent; the inner life; meditation; expansion; realization; aspiration; higher mind; religion and philosophy; sport; freedom; rebirth." Thus we end up with quite a different "feeling" to Wand Ten than what we have in the decks that give this card a Saturn-Sagittarius association. Mann's Divinatory Meanings for the card include: "goals may be achieved through the power of positive thinking, visualization and affirmation. A dual nature requires both religious and material objectives to be complete." Reversed meanings are: "Jumping to irrational conclusions. Making unrealistic decisions which are oppressive, but contain the seeds for change."

The Whispering Tarot by Liz Hazel

Liz Hazel's suit of Wands is the suit of the Fire element, embodying "ambition, vigor, creativity, travel, high spirits, and energy." Her use of the colors red, yellow, and orange is a lot more subtle than what we see in the other cards in this set. Like most of the others in this discussion, Hazel associates the Ten of Wands with Saturn/Sagittarius. In her excellent book Tarot Decoded, Hazel notes: "Saturn is the planet that rules form and containment. It demands a stark view of reality, relentless determination, and a commitment to long-term results." She notes that the shadow side of Saturn includes "underlying self-defeating patterns conditioned in infancy and early childhood by parents, family, and the ambient culture." 

In the Ten of Wands, the Saturn/Sagittarius connection can represent "oppression, being defeated by circumstances. . .exhaustion, despair. . . overcompensating. . . taking oneself too seriously. . . obsessed with details." Ill-Dignified characteristics include "severe illness. . . serious injury. . . the wages of sin. . .the joy of life beaten out of a person by harsh circumstances." The card depicts a man crushed beneath a tree. The roots are consuming his body. The leaves are orange and brown, signifying the end of growth.

Of all of these, the Mandala Astrological Tarot alone deviates from the Saturn connection to the Ten of Wands. By offering the Sun instead of Saturn, Mann gives the card a more hopeful tone. 

Arthur Waite writes that the Ten of Wands represents "oppression simply" but "also fortune, gain, any kind of success, and then it is the oppression of these things." It's one thing to be oppressed without really understanding any other way of life, and quite another to become oppressed after experiencing a better life.

I welcome your comments!  



  1. This was very interesting Zanna, as you know I have no real knowledge of astrology at all, but I was so interested to see how the association in some cards, to the Sun, instead of Saturn, changed the interpretation. The Card that rang nearest to the RW for me was the One World by Crystal Love. I liked Love's more positive approach of determination - I often see the RW card as determined with a lot of effort to reach one's goal.

  2. I agree, Helen. Love also includes the influence of Jupiter (ruler of Sagittarius) in her interpretation which, in a sense, gives additional weight to the "optimism and enthusiasm" component of the card. Saturn is very good at "raining on the Sagittarius parade" but if the two energies can work together, the result can be quite effective.


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~ Zanna