In Focus: 10 of Wands

Wands 10 copy small 2As the sun sets over a distant city, a man struggles towards it with his load. It’s beginning to get dark, his baggage is troublesome to hold and he just wants to rest.

The 10 of Wands is a card of burden. We might imagine that those wands are actual situations, problems, or worries in our life which we are carrying. They might represent items on a to-do list which we are waiting to tick off, but that day never seems to come.

You might wonder why this guy struggles as he does. In a reading, this is a question you may ask yourself or your client. The goal (symbolised by the city) is in sight, but should he wish to continue with this load upon his breaking back, should some adjustments not be made?

Queen Cups 10 WandsWhen the 10 of Wands sits after the Queen of Cupshe adds flavour to her character. We already know that this queen is immersed in her emotional world – look at how she focuses only on her cup! When the 10 of Wands partners her in this duo, we are looking at someone who is burdened and overcome by what they are feeling. She could be someone who is too sensitive to cope with the load they carry in life.

Might the Queen of Cups be overreacting? In some situations, this is possible. In a reading, she could be someone who takes on emotional conundrums like this man picks up sticks. If a person draws these two cards in a reading, we might need to find a way in which they can lighten their load by suggesting professionals who can help them to deal with the vast array of emotional difficulties they’re experiencing or the day-to-day problems they are finding it difficult to cope with.

10 Wands StrengthWhen joined by Strength, we see quite a different scenario. Since both cards relate to the element of Fire (Strength is assigned to Leo), we see someone who has immense inner-fortitude. With this Major card beside him, the guy in the 10 of Wands doesn’t appear to be struggling quite so much.

These cards could appear for anyone who is facing a fear, fighting an illness or surviving through a difficult time. This is where the struggle is worth the bother; it is where it doesn’t kill us, it makes us stronger. Of course, I would not advise anyone to load them self up with stress and difficulty, but there are some people who thrive on challenge and pushing them self to the limit. This is not always something they are born with. Very often, people with a hard start in life build up the resistance and courage of Strength and carry it forward into everything they do.

10 wands 6 wandsIn this final duo, the 10 of Wands is coupled with the 6 of Wands.

Do we see the same city in both cards? You might consider that the one the man with the wands is travelling to is the one which the rider arrives in, where the crowd are welcoming him with praise and admiration. The sunset has become a sunrise.

We often look at cards like the 10 of Wands as being bleak and concerning big issues. Sometimes, it does, but on a mundane and everyday level, a twosome like this could describe the reward of persistence and hard work. Could these cards concern the student who has just finished her gruelling degree but has passed with flying colours and received the praise of her university, family and friends? We all carry burdens within life. In a reading like these, we need to work out whether they will make us or break us.




© Steven Bright Tiferet Tarot 2014

Illustrations by Steven Bright


4 thoughts on “In Focus: 10 of Wands

  1. I was also thinking that the Queen of Cups with the 10 of Wands might be someone available to help you carry the load, someone you aren’t aware of.

    I often like to see on the 10 of Wands how people handle the character of the one carrying the burden. What are the face and clothes like, what difference is there from the Pamela Colman Smith depiction to make it interesting, that sort of thing.


    • I like that. Yes, she could be someone who can help you with a burden. I often think of the queen as being a confidant so it could be telling you that she has the ability to nurture and hold on to your problems. Maybe she will take some wands – a problem shared being a problem halved.

      Unfortunately, you can’t see the details so well in these cards. I did that so that you could make your own mind up about who the people are in your life more easily. I often think of the man in the Hanson Roberts card when I think of the 10 of Wands. He came up around the time that my Dad retired and it reminded me of my father releasing the burdens of work and heading for a less-stressful way of life.


  2. It wasn’t a criticism about the face not being there, I agree about the silhouettes allowing you to make up your own mind. No, my comment was more about how I like decks where the images are slightly different than the original model.

    Being a silhouette is a difference I like.


    • Oh yes, I knew you wasn’t criticising, hehe. It was you who sent me down this wonderful silhouette journey in the first place! I have you to thank for setting the ball rolling with these illustrations.

      Yes, I like differences too. The one in the Shadowscapes always comes to mind; the world on her shoulders. I love to see how different artists tackle each card. One of the great things about designing these cards is that you have to really think about how you can convey emotion without facial expressions or any real detail. In some, I think they really capture the mood, although simple. I love these kind of symbolic languages 🙂


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