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Question Three of Wands


Here's one for those of you who are interested in color symbolism. Why is the sea yellow on this card instead of blue?
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The yellow color of the sea on this card feels right to me. One way I look at it is that the yellow reflects the color of the dawning sun. Looking at this card, I feel what it's like to wake up to a sense of where I am, and to be able to survey the landscape that lies before and around me. A dawning of a visionary awareness. Also, being in the Wands suit, it is associated (by many, at least) with the element of Fire. Yellow gives a fiery quality to it, whereas a blue sea would give off the tranquil watery sensibility of Cups. There is something about this golden color too that gives me the sense that this person has reached a very powerful place, almost like the ends of the Earth, the beginning or ending of a powerful new quest. The ocean is on fire with energy and possibility for the places it can take this traveller.
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Three of Wands


Very good question of color symbolism.The color is more ochre or golden-brown in the so-called Original Waite, more golden in the Universal Waite. I agree with noby that the color is a dawning or awakening . Possibly the dawning impulse to search the outer, widespread world for wisdom , since gold is often a symbol for wisdom. It is a call to find the sun of higher mind not above the world but in the world. Blue would be more passive and less awake. Not a sailboat cruise . An intense, vital entry down into practicality,with wisdom. Waite, I now read, states :" Those are his ships, bearing his merchandise." There is always more to discover!
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I've always thought of this scene as being sunset, not dawn - it's so tranquil, so mellow, so meditative, and perhaps also because of the red/ochre shades which to me are more evening than morning - and I always just assumed that the water reflected the sky; however, looking at the card now, the water and sky do seem a distinctly different shade, as well as the presence, of course, of the darker, redder areas which we see on the land and the water but not on the sky.....

Water representing, in so many other cards, the Inner, our higher selves, I would take it to represent the same here, but while it's usually blue - intuitive, emotional - as we experience it on a day-to-day basis, here perhaps the man can sense the true greatness of that higher state - the alchemical gold, and the greatness of the voyage of discovery that leads to it.

But it's not coloured as pure gold, there are patches of a more earthy shade; perhaps he recognises that this is not an impersonal ideal but his own personal journey, based on his wisdom and coloured by his own experiences.............
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Three of Wands - sometimes called Virtue.

The sea can represent potential, the subconscious - here we have the sun or indeed the sky reflected in the water. A mixture of conscious/subconscious.

The dawning of consciousness an awakening so to speak, which springs from the subconscious. A melding of the subconscious made practical, made reality - yet fluid as water - an act of becoming real perhaps. He stands, thinking, pondering, meditating a future course of action. Reflecting.

The ships again could represent the transition between the subconscious and conscious. An awakening. A personal journey.

Again a man, the conscious/masculine, the sun, again a conscious masculine element. The red of his cloak and shoes - passion, action, vitality - very Wands.

Fire/Water - a melding of both elements.

His right hand grasps the Wand - the masculine - activity/action. But a pause between thought/action. Reflection.

Yellow is representative of expanded perspective as well as action.
Brown to earth - practicality.
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III Wands - Man's quest for the Divine


This image is one of the most beautiful in the Wands suit. The first card in the suit, the Ace of Wands is pure energy, waiting to be set free in the world. The hand of God holds the Ace. In the next card, II Wands, we see man concerned with his immediate world, symbolized by the globe in his hand. There are two wands, so in terms of community, man has connected with another.

But in III Wands, we see more vision; more a sense of greater possibilities. Unlike II Wands, there are boats in the sea, the golden sea. The figure in this image appears to come from another time. He stands with III Wands, and three is often the symbol for Divinity. This search is beyond our immediate selves; a search for mystery, ancient truths perhaps?

This image always make me think of Jason and the Golden Fleece. The story of the Golden Fleece is somehow representative of our search for God, for the Divine. If you want more detail about the symbolism of gold and the Ram we could start another thread.

Suffice to say that the Man in this image looks out onto a golden sea. I think Frank drew our attention to the mystical meaning of the colour gold. In my imagination, the man is this image could be Jason, contemplating his search for the Golden Fleece. It could be each one of us, contemplating our own search. This quite humble card is, I believe one of the most mystical and beautiful in the whole Tarot. The RWS hides the profoundest insights in some of the minor cards. This is the story of our search - the common man's search for the endless spiritual possibilities within himself and in the outer world.
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