In Focus: 3 of Wands

Wands 03 small 2A lot of people confuse the 3 of Wands and the 2 of Wands. It’s not surprising really, since both show a male figure looking out to the sea, contemplating his hopes and dreams. However, there is a difference. In the 2 of Wands, the man (with his globe under his arm) made his first conscious step towards his goal. He manifested the initial spark of fiery-energy by acting on his plans for his future.

Is this the same man in the 3 of Wands? It could be. But in this scenario, he waits for the returns of his investment. What he receives are those first fruits of his labour, in the shape of the boats returning. You might see them as a symbol of the effort he sent out in the 2 of Wands.

The number 3 is about initial accomplishments. As an example, we’re not saying that the new website you’ve just built will receive 20,000 hits within its first ten minutes of going live. We’re talking about those first couple of visits, showing an initial acknowledgement of your hard work. For someone studying a degree, this card doesn’t represent their completing the entire thing, but it could easily be speaking about getting through the first difficult semester successfully.

When this card appears in your reading, think about the things in which you have sent out into the world. Are you waiting to hear back about a job interview? Have you began sketching recently and can now see how your creative abilities have developed since you started? Learning tarot takes a lot of time and effort, but this card might turn up when you begin to see the rewards from the study and practice you have invested into this path.

3 Wands 2 WandsWhen the 2 of Cups turns up with the 3 of Wands, acknowledgement of initial success concerns a partnership. In a relationship reading, this pair would be quite an easy one to interpret. What rewards does the client receive? The beginnings of a new emotional relationship, which will most probably arise from a chance encounter or some kind of date.

As numbers in the Minor Arcana go (1-10), these ones are pretty low. Because of this, we are looking at small rewards (in the 3 of Wands ) and the simple beginnings of a relationship (in the 2 of Cups). Of course, this is not to say that the relationship doesn’t have the potential of growing and becoming stronger in time.

Many new readers find it difficult to take these images and apply them to different situations. For instance, how can we read the 2 of Cups in a work-related reading? If this pair fell into a career spread, they could indicate a union between employer and employee. Due to the emotional nature of the Cup card, the job could well indicate a profession which is dear to the person being read for or a strong emotional connection to the job. Alternatively, it might concern new contacts, meetings or the support of a co-worker. The 2 of Cups does not always have to refer to romantic love.

3 Wands Ace PentaclesIn this combination, the 3 of Wands is joined by the Ace of Pentacles.

All of the Aces in tarot are seeds, which need to be nurtured. This one is a physical-seed (relating to the element of Earth), so could very easily relate to physical opportunities, money, work, or the home.

When I draw the Ace of Pentacles, I rarely see a windfall. More likely, it will refer to smaller amounts of money; enough for us to do something with. Rather than being some kind of handout from the universe, it will help us make more money for our self, if we care and nurture it well.

When these two cards arrive together, we might be looking at a new business beginning to reap financial rewards. Alternatively, we might receive news about a sum of money which is now available to us, but wasn’t before. In some cases, this might be money we already have, which is no longer tied up in a specific way and can be used elsewhere. For someone applying for a loan or grant of some kind, this combination may well be letting you know that a favourable decision will be made regarding your application.




© Steven Bright Tiferet Tarot 2014

All illustrations by Steven Bright


4 thoughts on “In Focus: 3 of Wands

    • Thanks Nathalie!

      I really like this 3 of Wands. That guy is really poised and waiting for the ships. It’s as though he needs this to move forward and onto his next step.

      I have played with the sun and moon a lot as these cards have been designed. The Queen of Cups has the moon completely surrounding her head, showing her connection to it and thinking about how the moon has such an influence over water and mood.


  1. Oh yeah, I can remember my early years and not quite understanding the difference between these two. I think of the 2 of Wands as the “Surveying the Kingdom” card–like an overview of an estate, the man looks at what is fine and what still needs to be done. He is steady and stable and holds the world in his hand, seeing everything, manifesting his view.

    The 3 of Wands reminds me of the children looking at the Lusitania before it was sunk by German submarines in WW I – you are waiting for your ship to come in or watching it go. It could be sad or happy, but is a waiting game, a slow journey. Humans find it so hard to wait, but sometimes you have to.


    • There is a lot of confusion with these cards, which I think is all down to their visual similarities. But with time, you find your feet and they become important cards. I love to see them in a reading now, because I know that an adventure is manifesting or rewards (of all kinds, big and small) are returning.


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