The Six of Wands in the Rider Waite tarot can be tricky to relate to. Our victories, no matter how hard won, don’t often come with a homecoming on horseback, banners and cheering crowds. The tarot, as we are used to seeing it, has a number of images like this which can be hard to pin down in our modern, workaday lives. Looking at and working with other decks then, with the re-imagining of ideas and imagery to express the same universal truths, can help us unlock cards which seem closed or worse, irrelevant.

Six of Wands – Coleman Smith Centenary Deck
I recently bought the Wild Unknown tarot. I know I’m a bit behind with this purchase, but having wanted to spend a few years really cementing my relationship with Coleman Smith images, I was avoiding scattering my attention too much with other decks. I also admit to being uncertain about the lack of human figures in the cards figuring that surely, if we are relating the cards to our human experience, it helps to have people int he pictures.
Interestingly enough though, I have found the lack of human figures encourages a much more symbolic relationship with the deck and a chance to listen to and explore the bigger picture of our existence or things which are difficult to express.
The Six of Wands is an interesting one for me. A beautiful blue-green butterfly rising out of the depths of tangled and rather menacing undergrowth is all about victory over the inherent conditions of our life. The butterfly must metamorphose and it must become itself if it is to live and reproduce. This isn’t about some job well done and a medal at the end, rather a deeper more essential success – I have survived! I live!

It is interesting personally though because I have a rather long-term phobia of butterflies. It is quite specific, as I fear them most when they are inside, out of their proper environment. I have been at a loss at to what this means or where it comes from, but perhaps this card suggests that a fear of failure coupled with the fear of success might keep one trapped in the pupae stage. Whatever it is, the Six of Wands shows that development, growth and moving out of the fear and conflict that we find in the Five of Wands is not only possible, but indeed essential and inevitable.


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