The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.
~ Warren G. Bennis
In this week that began with the Pope resigning and which will feature the newly re-elected Barack Obama giving his State of the Union address, we are visited by the Two of Wands.
Twos portray choices, duality, this and/or that. And Wands are associated with the element of Fire, depicting action, energy, passion, and power.
As we can see, the wealthy merchant holds in one hand a globe. In his other hand, he holds a second wand, which rests on a parapet decorated with white lilies and red roses – a motif we see prominently highlighted in a number of Tarot cards, including the Hierophant, the Magician, and the Ace of Pentacles.
The second wand behind him is secured to the castle wall. He has turned his back on this, and gazes out across the water.
This is about as pensive and introspective as the Wands get!
I always imagine that the two wands create a sort of doorway, or a magical threshold. But how can he move through it, from within his castle walls and at this height? The globe in his hand shows the Old World continents, not the New. And is it merely a coincidence of perspective that he appears to stand on only one leg?
Arthur Waite writes that this card echoes, “the sadness of Alexander amidst the grandeur of this world’s wealth.” Tarot expert Rachel Pollack explains that according to legend, Alexander the Great wept when he had succeeded in his final conquests, because he could not imagine there was anything else for him to do. Then, not long afterwards, he died.
Can the successful warrior (or campaigning politician) learn to transition his skills to peacetime, or will he continue to hunger for battle? Will the leader be satisfied as the manager? Shall the explorer and pioneer settle down, or will they forever long for faraway adventures?
How many times have we come to the end of an important event, only to feel somewhat let down? Do we, too, long for new challenges?
Once we have won the day, fought for our achievement, and hit the pinnacle of success, it may become our full-time job to then tend and sustain it.
But can we? Should we? This demands such different skills and energy levels.
Will we be happy with the quiet aftermath of our striving, like Tolkein’s Samwise Gamgee? Or does success bring a longing to be away once more, as Frodo discovered?
Like the merchant, we may gaze out from all that we have created. But are we in a castle of safety and achievement, or behind walls that lock us in place? Do we now protect the status quo, or do we challenge it?
There is a quiet tension here between the security of what is known, and the longing for new horizons.
Which way will you go?