There’s something almost too zen about this figure and the way he gazes out over the horizon. His back is to us, but he seems to be basking in the warm glow from either a sunrise or a sunset. And he’s so at peace that he doesn’t seem to mind whether the ships below are making their way to or from the harbor. Perhaps he has goods on them, or perhaps there are friends or family members aboard—either way, he’s willing to let them come and go without a trace of anxiety.
He seems remarkably steady for the suit of Wands. Wands represent fire in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, and therefore passion and ambition and energy—but also, perhaps, insight or even enlightenment. And look at the way the three wands are planted in the earth, giving an impression of stability. He has his hand lightly on one of them, but he doesn’t seem to need it for support. He’s standing on his own.
This card reminded me of a rather beautiful moment in the premiere of Supernatural this season: Keep Calm and Carry On. Don’t worry; nothing too spoilery ahead. It’s just that Dean Winchester took a moment to explain what he thinks of being a hunter to someone he cares about, and in that moment he seemed completely at peace with his life and his work. I think it was the most zen we’ve ever seen him. I also think he earned that peace, in light of the growth we saw in him last season.
That said, if he carries that sense of peace forward, it will make for a significant character shift. I’m not against that—especially since we’re in the twelfth season and, yeah, he deserves to work out some of his issues by now. But a character who has found his zen presents special challenges. Inner conflict, after all, is the meat of a lot of stories.
Speaking of character growth, many people see this card as the companion of the Two of Wands. I won’t spend too much time on that card here, but it presents us with someone full of ambition and enterprise. Someone who’s not zen about the coming and going of ships. Actually, there are no ships in sight, but they’re almost implied. He seems to have lofty plans for the unseen vessels.
Some people think the Three of Wands is an older, wiser version of the Two of Wands. I’m not so sure; their clothes seem to reflect two vastly different time periods. But it’s a compelling theory.
Overall, I think the figure in the Two of Wands is easier to work with, story-wise. If he does indeed grow into the figure in the Three of Wands, that might represent an end to his personal arc. He might then become more suited to the role of a mentor than to that of a main character.
How do you feel about characters who attain a measure of peace? And how do you handle such characters in your story? Can you come up with good examples in a story you’ve read or written?
Or maybe you have a completely different interpretation of these cards. Let me know! And, as always, if this card—er, either card, in this case—inspires a story, meta or poem, please leave a link in the comments.
Meanwhile, we need a random card for next week. Ooh! We’re back to the Major Arcana with the Wheel of Fortune.