To be happy you must have taken the measure of your powers, tasted the fruits of your passion, and learned your place in the world.
~ George Santayana
In this first full week of 2016, we transition from the lofty potential of last week’s Ace to the structure and harmony promised by the Four of Wands.
The Tarot’s Fours focus on grounding, order, and stability. And of course, Wands are ruled by the element of Fire: passion, action, and magic. When we are able to stabilize the energetic, creative Wands, a happy, nourishing outcome is the result.
In the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, we see a couple approaching the bower, which very much resembles a Jewish wedding chuppa. Yet it is not covered.
Instead, the four erect Wands are connected by the interwoven flowers and fruit, obvious references to fertility, abundance, beauty, and growth.
The man and woman are exuberantly waving flowers, and they are followed, or perhaps watched, by a crowd further back. Also in the background, we see the walled citadel, but this celebration is under sunny skies, outdoors in the fresh open air.
The happy couple is also crowned with flowers, or maybe the laurel wreaths of victory.
The Sacred Marriage
Tarot author and expert, Mary Greer, observes that this card is a celebration of the duality of animus and anima coming together in harmony. It may represent the Hieros gamos (the sacred marriage) that integrates, not only the male and female, but opposing energies within the self.
As such, Mary notes, the Four of Wands is a “rite of passage; in the Golden Dawn system it’s called ‘completion’ and its astrological attribute, Venus in Aries, represents the equinoxes, marking the end of one stage of life, and the beginning of another.”
And speaking of stages, as I have pointed out before, this is one of the “stage cards” by Rider-Waite-Smith deck artist, Pamela Colman Smith. For much of her career, she was in theater set design. So it is no accident that on thirteen of the cards, Pixie drew a double horizontal line behind the main subjects in the image, separating the players and scenery as if they are on a stage in a theater.
In this case, it is as if the wands were floating in front of a stage, upon which the actors are playing their roles.
This could indicate that the marriage we are seeing may or may not be a literal one. Perhaps instead, we are given a reference to the fertility that results when we are wedded in happy harmony with our home land.
There is no hidden agenda here. Instead, we see freedom, simplicity, and joy under these golden skies.
New Moon, Mercury Retrograde, and Mars – Oh My!
This week of the New Moon in Capricorn, many of us are returning to work and school from holiday breaks.
Although the New Moon is usually an invitation for planting new seeds and beginnings, there are some counter-productive energies at work this week.
With the Mercury retrograde that begins Tuesday, this is not the ideal time to launch a new endeavor. It is, however, wonderful for reviewing, revising, and revisiting past projects and life chapters.
And then there is the planet of the God of war, Mars, who is all over the coming week’s influences. It moved into Scorpio on Sunday, where it will be until early March.
As Elisabeth Grace notes, “Mars in Scorpio suggests intensity in matters of desire, which can be built all the way to Heaven or all the way to Hell. Downside: a temptation to indulge in vengeance, especially over petty grievances. Upside: a need to act with honor and integrity (even among thieves).”
By the way, I recommend a full reading of Elisabeth’s article where she goes into detail about the complex patterns setting up for this very active astrological week.
The Four of Wands urges us to ground our fire. We need not dampen our passionate flames, but we do need to create a stable, useful way to harness that power. By doing so, enormous joy and connection can result.
Centeredness and calm will serve you far better than ego flying off the handle, which may be tempting.
Shedding more light, Diotima Mantineia explains that beginning today, “Mercury is stationary, getting ready to turn retrograde in Aquarius on Tuesday, when it will be exactly square Mars. This face-off promises to be an epic one, and does not bode well for our technology.”
She notes, “I’m sure you know to back up your computer and double-check your emails and travel plans during a Mercury retrograde — this time, you’ll also want to be especially cautious of deceptive communications and actual physical damage to your various tech toys and devices.
“This Mercury Rx could bring an attack on technology, such as hacking, destruction of some technological infrastructure (flooding is a likely culprit), widespread phishing attempts, hi-tech espionage, a new virus, or just plain old accidents. People are likely to be argumentative, and you definitely want to watch out for gaslighting.”
Again, the Four of Wands offers wise counsel in dealing with such challenges. Assess your power and liabilities. Back up your devices. Stabilize what you can. Then, take plenty of breaks from tech/screen time.
Savor the Fruits of Your Passion
Allow your true self to be seen. Revel in the magic of physical reality. Taste the sweetness of actual (not virtual!) human contact, the gifts of the natural world, and life’s simple pleasures.
When you use your creativity in a practical, grounded way, what joyful results might be possible?
Can you create more stable, generous ways of celebrating life?
Now that holiday obligations are over, perhaps you long to celebrate happy reunions with your truest loved ones. In what way is it time for you to come out of your fortress?
What beauty and abundance would you like to now celebrate and share with your family, friends, and neighbors? What rites or vows are you longing to make, under the wide open skies, for all to see?
The Four of Wands shows us that when we are able to focus the powers of fiery Wands, manifestation follows. When the fertility in the life force of Wands grows roots, it becomes joy shared.
This week, may you dance with happy new beginnings, and find your true place in the world.