Monday 14 April 2014

Aries in the Minor Arcana: The Four of Wands

The last of the three minors associated with Aries, the Four of Wands is linked to Venus in Aries, and to the final ten days of Aries (10th-19th/20th April).   

First of all, what qualities does Venus bring to the cardinal Fire of Aries? Well, Venus is associated with the appreciation of beauty, the forces of attraction and sensuality, as well as creativity and fertility.  In Aries, it will express affection in a very direct way, often impulsively and with enthusiasm.  It will enjoy new experiences, and the early stages of relationships.  As Mars rules Aries, the Venus-Mars interplay can make it difficult for relationships to run smoothly – Venus’ need for closeness and Mars’ assertiveness can find themselves locking horns!  Venus in Aries is very giving, very demonstrative, and responds well to others.

Universal Waite Tarot
It may be hard to see how this works in the Four of Wands. For me, the key - in traditional Pamela Coleman-Smith-based depictions of the card – is the flowers, the garlands that festoon the marquee or wands.  Flowers and blossoms are very Venusian (through Venus’ rule of Taurus) – the ‘blossoming of pleasure’ fits with the theme of celebration that’s become associated with this card.  The wreath too, representing success, is also Venusian – both in its rule of Taurus and Libra.  In some versions of this card, we see oranges in the garlands – a solar (Fire) fruit.

The castle in the background represents what’s been accomplished – it’s not so far in the distance that it’s out of reach, but there’s still a distance to go.  The marquee, or tent, or area around the fire – depending on what deck you’re using – is marked out by four wands or staves or bows... four being the number of stability and security (four corners, a square – a solid geometric figure that’s hard to shift).  It’s safe to stop and celebrate, to enjoy a break in the journey, to receive the well –earned praise that the Sun in Aries in the previous card, the Three, wants. Venus is happy to give it.

Wildwood Tarot
No sign of the four-square-ness in the Wildwood’s Four of Bows, but I love this card so much – the joy of the dance, the celebration... there seems to me to be a sense of safety and security as these figures dance in wild abandon, enjoying their well-earned break through the wood.

There’s a sense of that joy and jubilation in the Shadowscapes’ Four of Wands as well – unicorns dancing in the bright sun...although I can’t find any connection between Venus and unicorns, other than these unicorns clearly demonstrating their happiness!

Thoth Tarot
Not all decks work with this image, however. Aleister Crowley’s Thoth deck, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris, uses a spoked wheel to symbolize completion of the first stage.  The spokes of the wheel have a dove (Venus) at one end, and a ram’s head (Mars) at the other, reflecting the need to balance the two in order to maintain Venusian harmony and the continuation of the journey, so newly begun.  In order to move on to the next stage, we have to ensure that the initial stage is completed, that there are no loose ends, that there’s no unfinished business or conflicts to be resolved.  Venusian love and respect of the others involved eases any tension with Martian energy, and provides support – the four-cornered solidity of the square.

Thoth Tarot created by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris, published by US Games Systems, Inc.

Universal Waite Tarot created by Mary Hanson-Roberts & Pamela Colman-Smith, published by US Games Systems, Inc.

Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections

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