If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
John Quincy Adams
This week that marks a climactic moment in the turning of the Wheel of the Year, the Tarot offers us brilliant insight. Making an appearance for the first time in several years, let us welcome this visit from the King of Wands.
Because the Tarot comes to us from an earlier time and value system, its Kings reflect a cultural bias that assumes overt leadership, strength, and power could only belong in the realm of men, not women.
In Europe (from which the Tarot comes), kings were historically considered to be responsible for the welfare of their whole societies. The rise and fall of all their country’s fortunes were upon their shoulders.
Queens, on the other hand, were generally considered to represent inner power of a more subtle and passive type. Thankfully, times have changed and many newer decks have revised these stereotypes.
Like all of the Kings in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, the King of Wands is wearing what Arthur Waite called, “a cap of maintenance” under his crown (no, that is not red hair).
According to Lord Philip Norton, former Chairman of the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution, author or editor of 32 books to do with the British monarchy and government, and known as the “greatest living expert on Parliament” —
Various people have asked about the origins of the Cap of Maintenance. Some sources claim the origins have been lost in time.
However, I am reliably informed by Lord Wakeham – who had the matter researched when he was Lord President of the Council – that it derives from the reign of Henry VII when it was presented to the King by the Pope in recognition of the King’s secular supremacy.
It is only worn once by a sovereign on the occasion of the coronation.
Otherwise, the article goes on to note, the Cap of Maintenance is carried during important matters of state, along with the Sword of State, processing before the ruling monarch.
So are we seeing the King of Wands, as well as the other Kings, at the actual moment of their crowning? This would seem so.
With Wands belonging to the element of Fire, and representing action, creativity, and passion, the King of Wands is the ultimate Fire personality. Tapped in to the flaming heart of magic, he is a brilliant master of change, manifesting, and drama.
As is always the case with the court cards of the Tarot, he may or may not be an actual person, and he may or may not be male. But there is no doubt that there is big intensity sparking this week.
Kings, Petty and Great
In past appearances here, the question has come up as to whether this king could be associated with P45. After all, the latter is a master of drama and controversy. Everywhere he goes, he stirs up intense energy, and even violence.
And although his Sun is in airy Gemini, he has the fire sign of Leo rising.
I can only say that if he is connected in any way to the King of Wands, it would primarily be the shadow aspect.
Rather than being a leader of the sort so beautifully described by John Quincy Adams, P45 is renowned for his chaotic strategies, poor understanding of his duties, animosity towards much of his constituency (like women and minorities), lack of empathy, and insatiable need for attention.
Indeed, although perhaps he fancies himself as possessing the King of Wands’ regal nobility, he has a thing or two to learn from this King, who is never petty or admiring of cruel tyrants.
This King is creative, willful, and rightfully sure of himself/herself. But not because of the fawning and fear of his people, nor would he desire the iron fist by which a dictator, “speaks and his people sit up in attention. I want my people to do the same.”
The King of Wands understands most of all how leading and being of service are vitally interconnected.
He is a powerful, dynamic authority who inspires great loyalty. Although he can have a bit of a temper at times, he is mature and measured in his approach, and always follows through to complete his goals successfully. He (or she) knows precisely when to be aggressive, to dominate, take risks, or pull rank. And when to strategically refrain.
His greatest talent is to inspire the best in his team and his people.
The Oak King and the Holly King
This week, we in the northern hemisphere will be celebrating the Summer Solstice (also known as Midsummer or Litha). Our sisters and brothers in the lands below the equator are also celebrating Solstice, but for them, it is Yuletide, the shortest day and longest night of the year, when Winter will begin.
Based on Robert Graves’ The White Goddess, and Frazer’s The Golden Bough, many Pagan traditions give honor during this sabbat to the ongoing drama between the two twin Gods, the Oak King and the Holly King.
Pagan scholar and blogger, Patti Wigington, writes,
In many Celtic-based traditions of neopaganism, there is the enduring legend of the battle between the Oak King and the Holly King. These two mighty rulers fight for supremacy as the Wheel of the Year turns each season.
At the Winter Solstice, or Yule, the Oak King conquers the Holly King, and then reigns until Midsummer, or Litha. Once the Summer Solstice arrives, the Holly King returns to do battle with the old king, and defeats him.
In the legends of some [other Pagan] belief systems, the dates of these events are shifted; the battle takes place at the Equinoxes, so that the Oak King is at his strongest during Midsummer, or Litha, and the Holly King is dominant during Yule. From a folkloric and agricultural standpoint, this interpretation seems to make more sense.
In either case, I rather like that the Tarot is offering the King of Wands as an aspect of the Oak King, for, of all the cards of the Tarot, he most assuredly wields the power of light, life, growth, and magic.
At Solstice, this time of the Oak King’s ultimate power, the King of Wands is seated on his lion throne, magical salamander at his feet, and wearing a golden circlet of flames, beneath which is the Cap of Maintenance, indicating his crowning moment of highest glory.
Let us then celebrate and honor the sunlight at its peak, for after Litha, the daylight will begin to diminish and give way to the dark face of the Holly King, who rules the forces of harvest, withering, death, and decay, as well as the time of stillness and hibernation.
Hail to the Bright Lord of the Green Wood, giver of Life, fertility, and fruitfulness! The King is dead, long live the King!
The King and You
Closer to home and “real life,” who do you know that is exceptionally charismatic, inspiring others with their vitality? Original, innovative, and exuding confidence, when this person walks into a room, everyone notices.
Indeed, this King aims to make a big difference, with big ideas, and big changes at his command.
Full of laughter, sunny optimism, sexual magnetism, and a flair for the dramatic, this is someone who is impatient with sitting in the castle. Instead he or she would rather be in the heat of the action.
What creative project needs your leadership? How can you help others discover their own best power, in order to contribute?
In what ways are you being asked to step out from the crowd and shine? Where might your big, bright fire of passion be needed? Who do you know that can back up their considerable charisma with true mastery and dazzling results?
Now is not the time to be a shrinking violet. Look for a week full of important activity and energized motivation. Be bold, be seen, be confident and generous. Expand your comfort zone and wield your power.
The King of Wands is a strong ally, and an invitation to act from your most noble Source. Things are definitely heating up.
Follow your wild desires to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more. As you lead the way, others may well follow.