Two of Wands – “Whelp, Welcome to Adulthood”

I know a lot of people express frustration with the Two of Wands.  “It’s too much like the Three of Wands!”  “Is it positive or negative?”  “What’s with that weirdo globe imagery?” “No, seriously, it’s way too much like the Three of Wands.”

Rider Waite Two of Wands - See what I mean?  What's up with that dumb globe?

Rider Waite Two of Wands – See what I mean? What’s up with that dumb globe?

I can’t think of anything more frustrating than feeling like a card in your deck is redundant.  However, I really do think there are a lot of distinct differences between the imagery in the Two of Wands and the Three of Wands.  The biggest distinction for me is that the figure in the Two of Wands is stuck in moment of decision while the figure in the Three of Wands has already made that decision and is waiting for an outcome to arrive.

Wands is the fire suit, the suit of passion.  This is an important decision for the figure in the picture – he’s literally got the whole world in his hands.  (Still think that globe is silly.)

Shadowscapes Two of Wands - Here's One Without a Globe!

Shadowscapes Two of Wands – Here’s One Without a Globe!

So when this popped up in a reading, I was always drawn to talk about passion projects, about new beginnings of great and exciting things.

Until recently.

I was doing a reading for myself using Barbara Moore’s Steampunk Tarot.  It’s really lame that there isn’t a good scan of the Two of Wands from this deck online – I took my own very sophisticated cell phone picture to try and give you some idea of the imagery.

Steampunk Tarot - Two of Wands  - Photography (C) J.J. - no seriously, I demand royalties if you snatch - talk to my lawyer.

Steampunk Tarot – Two of Wands – Photography (C) J.J. – no seriously, I demand royalties if you snatch – talk to my lawyer.

This card represented a person for me.  It was in a slot I’d designated specifically for another human being, and when it came up, my initial interpretation was to go with the traditional meaning: this guy is about to start something new, something he really cares about.  This is a passionate new beginning, a moment where this decision he’s made is going to begin a…

…wait a second.  That doesn’t really feel right.

I looked at the card again.  And then I noticed the facial expression of the figure in the Two of Wands.  He looks…kinda miserable actually.  Other images of the Two of Wands have either the figure’s face turned away, or maybe the figure looks kinda smug – check out examples below.  But my Two of Wands — this is NOT a person who is full of drive and vigor.


I thought about the guy who the Two of Wands was representing.  He’s in law school – he’s doing something he really cares about, but he’s really young and is going through what must be a tumultuous period.  He’s making a HUGE decision by going to law school – a life altering one.  Maybe he’s scared he made the wrong choice?  Maybe he’s nervous about what this will lead him to?

No big decision comes without indecision.  And no great passion project starts without a seed of doubt.

My interpretation of the Two of Wands – and almost all the Two Cards actually (cups excluded) – have an ounce of trepidation.  The twos are at the beginning of the suit – these are young cards who are scared to blossom into maturity.  I can completely identify with that, being twenty two and just about to lease my first apartment.  What am I dooooiiiinggg??!!  I’m not a Two of Wands that’s all gung-ho and ready to kick ass with my little globe.  I’m a Two of Wands that’s like “okay, okay, don’t panic, everything’s fine, this is gonna be great, I promise, no, really, it’s gonna be awesome, it’s gonna be fantastic, it’s gonna be frickin’ THRILLING OKAY?!”

I think I’ll call up my Two of Wands and see how he’s doing.  Not to go “hey dude, totally went to spirit world and saw you’re having a messed up time”, but just to see how he’s handling things.

Next time I see the Two of Wands maybe I’ll stop to consider that the querent might not be there for me to tell them how amazing their life decisions are – maybe they’re there to express something a little more vulnerable.  Decisions are scary.  But they have to be made.  That’s a big part of growing up, I guess.  But being afraid of those decisions isn’t something to be ashamed of – it’s something be embraced.


4 thoughts on “Two of Wands – “Whelp, Welcome to Adulthood”

  1. Cool post! I have also noticed that the Two of Wands in The Steampunk Tarot has a distinctly different energy from the versions you find in other decks. Have you ever seen the Two of Wands from the Deviant Moon Tarot? Its also quite different. Deviant Moon is one of my favorite decks, its very dark and kinda warped. 🙂

    • Is the Deviant Moon Two of Wands the one with the two faced man with the pincers as the wands? LOVE the image, and it definitely gives off a “there are two sides to every big decision” kind of feeling.

      I was looking at the Joie de Vivre Tarot online and the Two of Wands is the most adorable thing ever. (Not that every card in that deck isn’t totally adorable.)

      Tarot imagery can get SO personal – I see why people get all riled up when a deck’s imagery messes with their interpretation of the cards. It’s like “NO. Your stupid flower-fairy Two of Wands has nothing to do with trepidation/hesitation! It’s all about being PROUD OF YOURSELF or nutso crap like that. Fooie.”

      • Yep that’s the deck. I often interpret that version of the card as being about integrating two seemingly opposing things to come up with a unique solution or way of doing something, ’cause that’s what the art says to me, but I doubt that’s what the “book definition is”, its interesting (and confusing) how different art really strongly dictates different meanings, even for the same cards.

  2. The Two of Wands and Three of Wands in my deck have very distinct differences.

    My other name for the Two of Wands is “The Crossroads.” In it a young man stands on top of a mountain peak. There are two paths and he can vaguely pick out the destination of each but he doesn’t know what lies along the way. So the young man sets his staff down as he contemplates his future course.

    The Two of Wands symbolizes traveling down a path to your goal. It is an internal energy. The Three of Wands on the other hand speaks of opportunities that will come to you. It is an external energy.

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