Tarot Card Meanings: Knight of Wands

The Knight of Wands indicates either a person within the querent’s life, or the self-positioning of the querent towards the situation being considered. As a Court card, the Knight of Wands is always personal, and although much is made of the potential quandary that Court cards can pose for readers, the only question that really must be asked is: “Who?”  This does not alter if a Court card lands in a situational position within a spread.  Rather, you can rest assured that someone, somewhere, is doing something!  Think of these cards as verbs:

`When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

`The question is,’ said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

`The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master – – that’s all.’

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. `They’ve a temper, some of them — particularly verbs, they’re the proudest — adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs — however, I can manage the whole of them! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!’ (Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass, Chapter 6: Humpty Dumpty.)

In the lexicon of the Tarot, Court cards are too action oriented to be bossed around.  They mean what they mean to do!  Haughty and proud, they are their own masters.  So where the other cards, including the Trumps, are often best thought of as moods or themes (adjectives), or as consequences, events, or happenings (nouns), Court cards are embodied persona that result in definitive actions (people doing stuff, i.e. verbs).

The Knights are the most obvious of the Court cards when it comes to their immediate effect.  Much like thunderclap, they roll in to the lives of others, dominate those lives for a time, and then roll on out.  At once mobile and headstrong, they exhibit the tendencies of their Elemental suit most overtly and are associated with travelers, surprise visitors, teenagers, and people/strangers who are “just passing through.”

In the case of the Knight of Wands, there is an impassioned volatility that is at once creative, destructive, and largely unconscious.  S/he is the Air of Fire.  But whereas the Page of the suit (Earth) might find him/herself overwhelmed by their own emotions, the Knight overwhelms others with his/her presence and almost frenetic activity and haste.  This is someone who radiates energy outward, acting as a change agent in the lives of others while remaining almost completely unaffected, themselves.

My experience with the Knight of Wands has been so consistent that I refer to it as “the Player card” of the deck.  Fun, forward, playful, attractive, self-confident, and too easily mistaken for Prince(ss) Charming, this is the person who says “I love you” in the throes of passion and is gone the next day.  But fret not, s/he meant it at the time.  It’s simply that now is forever another time.  And there are so many people to love!

The Knight of Wands blows hot and cold, and has little self-reflection.  It is unlikely that s/he understands the reasons for her/his own changeable feelings and fickle behavior.  Rather, s/he is a creature of impulse and instinct, a gamble incarnate, the ultimate embodiment of an “easy come, easy go” attitude.

Dali’s interpretation is lovely.  Set against a white background, the Knight rides to the right bearing a verdant wand.  He and his steed are white, as well, and outlined in orange.  They are both framed twice over by an orange molding and a violet, orange halo which leap upward, as if the Knight existed within the center of his own flame.  The card is striking for its consistency of palette.  Beneath the Knight’s horse, a blue toad lies in wait.  Clearly chthonic and framed in black, the toad looks upward at the Knight who seems completely oblivious to the large beast beneath his own ground.

The Toad is a complex alchemical symbol that suits the Knight of Wands well.  Indicating transformation, metamorphosis, and rebirth, the Toad starts its life in water and later buries itself in the earth.  It’s song heralds downpours and yet, like the Salamander, it has long been associated with Elemental Fire due to its toxic and hallucinogenic properties.  The Toad is a base symbol of mutation and rebirth, representing the philosophical/alchemical “first matter” which is meant to unite with the Eagle (Elemental Air) so that both might become whole in union.  The Knight of Wands is of the Air and Fire.  The Toad, being of Water and Earth (and Fire), serves as an anchor and base, preventing this Knight from flying hither and thither, as is his nature.

I think it is also a reference to fairy tales, the Toad being the flip side of the Prince, and the Knight of Wands being the manifestation of both.

When you pull the Knight of Wands, prepare for a baptism by fire of the most delightful variety.  The person represented by this card is mutable, creative, romantic, and quick: ideal for a quick rebound or fling that will alter your outlook.  But do be wary!  If you’re looking for a relationship that will last, do yourself a favor and back away.  Otherwise, you’ll likely get burned.

Finally, at its most mundane level, this card can signify an adolescent with either a lot of Fire in his/her astrological chart, or who is a Fire Sun sign: Aries, Leo, or Sagittarius.


**While all manner of comments are welcomed, any further information pertaining to art history, symbolism, myth, cultural reverberations, and Tarot card meanings that traverse decks or lend especial light to the Universal Dali deck, specifically, are actively sought and encouraged.  I’m not using a book for these descriptions, so I may miss a reference that bears mention in relation to a card.  If you know something, please share it!

Conversely, I actively negate the astrological significations of the Trump cards within the Universal Dali deck in favor of the more traditional Thoth.  My plan is to tackle the astrological significations of the Universal Dali Trumps and their overt divergence from all norms in one article… after having described each card.  That’s a ways off.  ;)

Numerological Affiliations: VI. The Lovers

The Knights: Knight of Pentacles

The Court of Wands: King of Wands, Queen of WandsPage of Wands

To visit the Tarot card library, click here.

8 responses to “Tarot Card Meanings: Knight of Wands

  1. Player – love that word in relation to this card. He looks a bit like a cartoon character in this deck. I also love your take on the symbolism of the toad – spot on!

    • Thanks, Monika! This card has little meaning to me beyond “player” — it’s so consistent and clear. Very fun, probably transformative, but not built to last.

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