(The above image is a copy of The Three of Wands card in a standard Rider-Waite Tarot deck. The 5 symbols pointed out above are explained below.)
The Three of Wands represents the threshold of adventure. The figure in the card is prepared and enthusiastic, all he needs to do is take the first step. In some ways, The Three of Wands is the Minor Arcana version of The Fool. Like its Major Arcana version, the Three of Wands calls us out of out comfort zone to seek enlightenment in the world.
For more information about The Three of Wands card, check out A. E. Waite’s description here.
Point 1 – FIGURE’S POSE
In the Three of wands, the figure is looking out towards the sea with his back facing the reader. This is the only card in the suit where the figure’s face is hidden. This could be interpreted as an enthusiastic drive to face the unknown or it could be interpreted as a rejection to oneself. Two of the three wands stand behind the figure and it is unclear if he knows about them or not.
Point 2 – TWO SHORES
There are two shores on either side of the sea. The figure is on one of them. This shore represents the present and known space of the figure. The far shore represents the future and unknown space of adventure. While the Two of Wands was safe on the battlements, the Three of Wands is on the threshold of the journey.
Point 3 – GOLDEN SEA
Instead of a traditional blue, the sea in-between the shores is a golden yellow. This could symbolize a rising sun at dawn, adding to the theme of beginning. It could also illustrate the golden value of the journey itself. In any case, the color creates a paradox. In making the sea yellow, the water looks like sand, turning the sea into a desert. As we have seen, much of Tarot’s imagery is about creating paradoxes that leave interpretation open ended.
Point 4 – SHIPS
Upon the sea are three ships. It is unclear their relation to the figure. They might have left him behind. They might be coming for him. They might even be unaware of his existence. In any case, their presence reveals that the journeyman is not alone. Many people seek enlightenment. He could use their journeys to further his own.
Point 5 – HEADBAND
The headband on the figure is a callback to The Magician card and furthers that card’s connection to the Suit of Wands. The headband is like a material halo. It equips the figure with spiritual guidance as he begins his journey.
An Upright Three of Wands reveals all of the opportunities before you as you begin your journey. The day has begun, and the oceans are clear. All signs point to a prosperous exertion. Given your position on the threshold, now is the time to think of the details of your plans. Proceed with encouragement as your vision becomes a reality.
A Reverse Three of Wands suggest hesitancy to start your plans. You are stuck on the battlements of the Two of Wands. Waiting to begin your journey might lead to a loss of opportunities. Take a moment to analyze what is holding you back from taking the first step. If you free yourself from hindrances, your journey will be bright and productive.
For more Tarot Card Meanings, check out our blog here.
About the author: John Taylor is a content writer and freelancer through the company Upwork.com. You may view his freelancing profile here. He has a B. A. in English, with a specialty in technical writing, from Texas A&M University and a M. A. in English from the University of Glasgow. You may view his previous articles about Tarot here and his LinkedIn profile here.