Alchemical Study Group - King of Staffs


Hi all. I'm starting this thread because since I began working exclusively with this deck about a month ago I have drawn this card constantly. I do daily draws and he's come up six time in a month and he appears in almost every reading I do. I'm struggling to understand his message so I thought I'd open it up to the study group :)

In the card a dragon is coiled around a burning staff. He is holding on to the staff as if he's protecting it. He also has rings and a crown made of his own scales. In the companion book Place discusses 'animal passions' saying they are the source of our life energy. He also says it represents inner strength.

I've worked through quite a few of the activities in '21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card' using this card and still can't figure out what it means for me. I get the idea when I look at this card that the dragon is being quite defensive. He seems to be looking at me quite suspiciously. Sometimes he even seems angry. He's certainly holding on to that staff as if he's afraid of losing it. I like the Kings in this deck as animals, but this one is a bit of a puzzle to me. And he's stalking me so I sure want to figure out what he's trying to say :)


Just a couple of observations -- my copy of the Renewed is still in the mail but I snuck over to Taroteca. ;)

I also noticed that the King is holding onto his staff very protectively, like he'll breathe fire over anyone who tries to snatch it from him. But I see that in his obsession to cling to the wand, he doesn't notice that the wind is about to blow out the flame at the top.

Additionally, I wonder if its coincidence that the first thing I thought of when I saw his head was "jester's hat", not "crown". He does seem a little foolish in his exaggerated, defensive pose. Almost seems childish, on closer inspection... a baby dragon practicing guarding his hoard, and not doing a terribly good job of it. If we turned the card around, maybe we would see that other young dragons have stolen the rest of his wands; he's glaring at them, not us. Sort of an odd impression to get from a King, isn't it? :D


Well passions, & emotions are an important part of life. The Dragon is guarding the inner fire. One must channel that inner fire with care. The only way to get to the fire is by making friends/taming the Dragon. [White phase Alchemy] Unleashing the Dragon is the Red phase of Alchemy.

The real trick to unleashing the Dragon "is to disappear" before the Dragon notices. As the old Alchemist advised "be still" "rest in the arms of the Dragon" If you quietly merge with the primal energies of the Universe, the Dragon's powers will follow the light of your own mind. The light of the [prepared] mind directs the transformation of energy into matter.



I haven't had any deep thoughts about this card. I do view the dragon differently to you though, Sapienza and Alamaris. I keep drawing this card when I'm asking about someone I adore so this could be influencing me somewhat.

I see the dragon as cheeky. I almost feel as if he could give you his staff but he doesn't want to right now. He looks playful and wise to me. I think he's being mock protective, glancing sideways at us in a mock aggressive way. I feel that if I spoke to him he'd probably laugh. He looks all powerful and fiery but I think all that potential aggression is contained. He looks to me like he has the power of a nuclear weapon but the heart of a pacifist.

His wings are like the fire... his colouring is like the fire... I think he's one with that fire. I'd imagine that if he gave the staff away the fire might go out because the power of it comes from within him. Contrast this fire to the fire in the Ace of wands. It's more alive in this card.

I think the jester hat / crown views are perfect. King of his domain but with a great sense of humour about it all. (and the crown/jester hat is a part of him - not an external item of clothing).

Also, this card reminds me of the salamander in the Ace of Wands. It looks like the salamander has grown up and turned into a dragon. Raaaaaaah!!!!


I also wanted to say that he reminds me of the Dalai Lama. I've heard that when people meet this most revered man, he often cracks jokes!


I find the dragon loving and caring; he is keeping the Fire away from those who cannot handle it. You will have to find your own way and truth to discover the secrets of Fire.

As he is the highest card of the highest suit he could be a gatekeeper/guard/end-of-level boss before we move out from the mundane world we live in to the one of spirits and magic. We're aware of it but we're not strong enough internally to confront the world in its true state.

One last little comment, in the west dragons are feared and in the east they're respected--why? It'll be an interesting little study I bet.


Wow, some great ideas everyone. This is really helping me to get my head around this card. I especially love your ideas taniatingel....and the reference to the Dali Lama is great. That really resonates for me :) I like the idea that if he didn't have the staff the fire would go out. I like the idea of him being playful and wise much better than suspicious and angry.

Also, Kenny, I agree that the fact he's the final card of the highest suit is important. To me this is like reaching pure fire, or spirit in it's most pure form. I think he's growing on me but we certainly need to spend a bit more time together :)


As was mentioned before, it seems there is a strong wind blowing through the card, though that fire doesn't show any signs of blowing out. To me it appears an image of immense, controlled/harnessed power. I trust him with that power and the wings suggests the potential for something higher. The intense heat leaves me with a feeling of purity.


I am loving this study group!
Thanks for contributions everyone. This card has really come alive for me now.

Jimmy, I hadn't even noticed that the wings mean he has the power to fly! So obvious... but it didn't cross my mind.

Kenny, that east/west view of the dragon is really interesting. I don't know the answer. And... it's interesting that the mythological creature exists in all parts of the world... not just the east or the west. He sure gets around.

It's got me thinking about the whole Chinese Astrology thing. I don't know if this is true, but I've heard that leaders are expected to be born in the year of the dragon... otherwise they can't be considered a serious contender for high office.

Also, it's not uncommon for the west to not value animals in general. In India the cow is sacred but it's clearly not in the west!


Kenny said:
One last little comment, in the west dragons are feared and in the east they're respected--why? It'll be an interesting little study I bet.
Thinking about this a bit more, and not doing any research on alchemical dragons (which seem to be important and not feared--not much seems to be feared by alchemists), has led me to think that dragons seem to be related to knowledge.

In the card the dragon is guarding the knowledge of fire.