Ten of Wands – Tarot Card Meaning

Ten of Wands

Mutable fire

Saturn in Sagittarius

Keywords: oppression, overburdened, needing support, struggling


In the RWS we see a man hunched overbearing the burden of ten, heavy wands.

Symbolically, he is oppressed by the weight of his own ambition.

How far we have fallen from the ambition of the Two of Wands and the victory of the Six of Wands. This is the great lesson of the suit of Wands: pure passion by itself will only lead to oppression ultimately, for it needs to be balanced by the rest of the suits: Cups (Emotion), Swords (Intellect), and Pentacles (Groundedness).

Many people are surprised to see oppression and burden at the end of the suit of Wands. When we get the Ace of Wands we see so much potential in our drives and passions. We throw our entire beings into this energy and are surprised when we our desires end up hurting us.

But the lesson here is to not burn the candle at both ends, for you will burn out without the modulating influence of other mental energies.

The other lesson is that our desires can lead to pain because so often we do not know what our True Will actually is. Instead, we can flown this way and that by surface-level desires or desires that are merely given to us by short-term thinking or social pressures.

Knowing our True Will is not easy by any means. But one could say that doing so is central to the philosophical pursuit of eudaimonia, or flourishing.

After all, if we do not know what we truly desire, how can we set the right kind of goals to give purpose and direction to our lives? Without this self-knowledge, we risk going through life aimless and frustrated.

In the Ten of Wands we see clearly the power of Saturn to hold us down. With every expansion of Will is the contracting influence of Saturn, like gravity holding back the explosive force of a Star.

Thoth – Oppression

Ten of Wands - Thoth

In the Thoth Tarot, we see eight crisscrossed, blue wands with two javelins upright over them.

Crowley says, “The card also refers to the influence of Saturn in Sagittarius. Here is the greatest antipathy. Sagittarius is spiritual, swift, light, elusive, and luminous; Saturn is material, slow, heavy, obstinate, and obscure.”

The antagonism of opposing energies is the picture of oppression. Quite poetically, Crowley says “It is a stupid and obstinate cruelty from which there is no escape. It is a Will which has not understood anything beyond its dull purpose, its “lust of result”, and will devour itself in the conflagrations it has evoked.

But Crowley is wrong: there is a possibility of escape. We just have to move into the next mode of being: the Ace of Cups, representing the possibility of diving deeper into the emotional water of the unconscious, where we can move beyond “dull purpose” and find our deepest sense of authenticity, True Will, the kind that is light and joyful instead of burdensome.

From Book T – The Lord of Oppression

Four hands holding eight wands crossed as before. A fifth hand holding two wands upright, which traverses the junction of the others. Flames issuant. Saturn and Sagittarius.

Cruel and overbearing force and energy, but applied only to material and selfish ends. Sometimes shows failure in a matter, and the opposition too strong to be controlled; arising from the person’s too great selfishness at the beginning. Illwill, levity, lying, malice, slander, envy, obstinacy; swiftness in evil and deceit, if BOOK T pg. 36 ill dignified. Also generosity, disinterestedness and self-sacrifice, when well dignified.

Malkuth of HB:V (Cruelty, malice, revenge, injustice).

Therein rule HB:RYYAL and HB:AVMAL.


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