Lesson 3: Wands and Pentacles
By the end of this third lesson, you will have memorized Wands and Pentacles too, using two short stories to connect the dots, and two flashcard decks to make the meanings stick.
In this lesson you will learn:
Use Symbols to Learn the Cards
Wands Cards Follow Each Other
Progression of Pentacles
Symbols on Pictures Make It Easy to Understand Each Card
Before memorizing the cards, let’s take a quick look at another mechanism (beside bare-basics numerology) that makes learning the cards much easier: common symbols that appear on cards.
Tarot imagery is full of such symbolism, which is great for one simple reason: you already KNOW the implications of all those symbols!
How can that be? The answer is simple. Those same symbols are part of every culture on Earth. The Sun is good; night is dangerous and so on.
Tarot Suits Themselves
Swords are dangerous. Water in Cups is indirect. Wooden Wands easily turn to fire. Pentacles (or coins) represent money.
People on Tarot Cards
Young are naive. Children mean harmony. With a blindfold, you can’t see the obvious. How people carry themselves creates a “mood” for a card.
Stars, the Moon, and the Sun
A lone star represents guidance. The Moon brings out shadows. The Sun represent clarity and warmth. It brings the day and breaks the clouds.
Other Common Symbols
A lone ship represents a journey. A bridge lets you cross over. A castle promises safety. Mountains are obstacles, but open new horizons when reached.
Note that you don’t need to memorize the above symbols: there are many more anyway. Just open your perception to such details and your own associations will come on their own.
Symbols on the cards are great help, because you already know what they mean.
Wands Suite: Your Passion and Drive
Wands represent your spirit: your passions and your drive. In other words Wands cards talk about your projects and desires.
Cards of the Wands suite are impulsive; a spark of inspiration that brings to the surface a powerful force but is hard to control; like fire.
Wands are a powerful force but hard to control.
Cards of Wands Suite Follow Each Other
Our brains are designed to catch a “thread” in a story and automatically attach the details along the way – “The Story Method“. This makes the following story an easy way to memorize cards of the Wands suite.
Read this story about the Wands and notice how each card follows from the previous one.
Suddenly, you are struck with a great idea (Ace of Wands) that has sparked your ambition, and you are full of passion and energy to start implementing it.
As soon as you start, you are excited about the different possibilities (Two of Wands). You stop to think about the big picture and to let your intuition tell you how to proceed.
You put everything in motion (Three of Wands) and intensely monitor the events and how they are bringing you nearer to your goal.
Solid foundations are set, and you enjoy tangible results (Four of Wands) but you know you can’t revel in them for too long but must go on.
You are stuck in a conflict; you feel attacked from all sides (Five of Wands). Others don’t agree with your ideas on how to proceed and at the same time, you are not completely sure of the ethical implications of your actions.
You win and with all the support you need you go on (Six of Wands), but you shouldn’t enjoy the victory too early and had better take care to keep your focus.
Opposition confronts you (Seven of Wands); but despite your fears and doubts, you have to prevail. It’s the moment to defend not only what you have achieved but also to defend what is yet to come.
The goal is near but your path is blocked (Eight of Wands). Quick and resolute action is needed but you stop for a moment to prepare; you don’t want to make a wrong move in haste.
You are almost in reach of your goal and you are very tired (Nine of Wands) but determined to persevere. Even on the brink of success, you are hard-pressed to find the strength and willpower to defend what you have accomplished.
Finally, you reach your goal (Ten of Wands) but you are burned out and don’t enjoy the whole picture. For too long you have taken all the responsibility on yourself. It’s time to integrate the lessons you have learned and continue with your life.
Wands talk about something similar to a “project”. Their story start with a burning desire to accomplish something, until that goal is finally reached. While all the time stubbornly following through, no matter what.
Wands cards progress from burning desire to accomplish something, to finally reaching that goal.
Memorize the Wands in Five Minutes
Now, go through the above story again, with cards in front of you. Focus on how each card follows the previous one.
If you can’t use real cards at the moment, use this flashcard deck instead:
When you can recall the thread of the story, your mind will fill in the rest.
Pentacles Suite: Money and Material Matters
Pentacles symbolize material, or “more down to earth”, matters. The first such that comes to mind is money of course, but can also be other physical manifestations of stability, caution and effort.
Remember that Pentacles, as any of the four Tarot suits, deal with everyday worries and concerns.
For example, when Pentacles talk about great success, that refers to your current endeavor or to something you are currently planning – not the early retirement with millions stashed in the bank.
Pentacles describe money and material matters.
Progression In Pentacles Cards
Below is the short story to help you memorize the Pentacles quickly, using the same Story Method. Again, go through the story noticing how all the cards together make a clear progression.
Luck has smiled on you and a very practical opportunity presents itself (Ace of Pentacles). You are moving towards the realization of the opportunity but with no haste because you know that if you go step by step and carefully build strong foundations, then nothing can stop you.
Of course decisions and risks come quickly (Two of Pentacles) and you are extremely busy. The only way to keep everything in balance is to go with the flow, keeping focused at the same time.
Soon, you have the first tangible results (Three of Pentacles). People around you recognize your accomplishments and even the hard work you put in is fulfilling.
You have achieved much but you have become paranoid about keeping what you have (Four of Pentacles). You have isolated yourself from everyone. You won’t be fulfilled again until you learn to freely use the results of your efforts and continue further with no fear.
As soon as real problems arise your world falls apart (Five of Pentacles). You have to somehow gather the last atoms of energy and faith to endure and finally to find a smarter way to keep going.
You stop being an island unto yourself; you have learned to accept help when needed and also to provide help for other people (Six of Pentacles) and things are going well again.
You have done all you can for now and present success is evident, but you are restless and worry about how to proceed (Seven of Pentacles). However, you realize that some things can’t be hastened; so you use the moment of rest to carefully plan your next steps.
You have chosen the way and it brings you totally new experiences (Eight of Pentacles). Life isn’t easy now but you are determined and you know that through commitment and excellent work, you are getting closer to more permanent and complete success at the same time that you grow as a person.
Finally, you have everything and what is more, you have achieved great authority and balance (Nine of Pentacles). In fact, you have already succeeded no matter what happens next.
You have achieved everything you planned and have created strong foundations (Ten of Pentacles) that give you both the opportunity and the stability to start new cycles, not only for your gain but also for the people that surround you.
Pentacles talk about hard work, from spotting an opportunity to fully seizing its potential, by carefully building your case.
Pentacles are not about winning a lottery, but rather about hard work and careful planning.
Repeat the Pentacles While Using the Cards
Take the Pentacle cards. Look at the each card and think of its place in the progression. Stick to the thread of the above story.
Use the Pentacle cards from your deck, or you can use this slideshow:
Don’t fall into the trap of memorizing the meaning of each card.
Instead, repeat the story several times until you can clearly see the progression unfolds: from mere opportunity, through all the planning and hard work it requires, to successfuly seizing its potential.
Don’t memorize the cards, instead focus on how the progression unfolds.
In this lesson I have shown you:
- How to use common symbols to quickly understand any Tarot card.
- Wands progression, from burning desire to achieving your goal, no matter what.
- Pentacles progression, seizing an opportunity by hard work and careful planning.
You can download this lesson as PDF now, to have it handy.
And if you have missed previous lessons, you may find them useful too:
The last building block we need to actually start reading the cards are the Court Cards, and you can learn them in the next lesson. Most people find the Court Cards tricky – but there is a way to learn them too: