Conflict, competition, and conviction take center stage with these strife-filled Wands cards. While their interpretations do have differences which we’ll talk about, their similarities are plentiful and the way we queer them works together and includes a progression of the suit, not just a fresh take. Most often the Five of Wands very simply indicates conflict and tension. A straightforward reading sees familial conflicts that we get sucked into (especially as it follows the Four which often indicates family), work meetings that may hit a heated head, or internal conflict between what our ideal self wants and actions we felt pressured into taking.
As advice, this card may be telling you to back down, or it may be warning you just to brace yourself as this is necessary. The tension is there, the conflict is coming, the strife is a tangible thing you can at least name. The Seven is similar, but often this has manifested for myself and my clients as a time when it seems conflicts are running high (from multiple directions at that) and everything is coming at you at once. Notice I said this is how it seems — with the Seven, things could be blown out of proportion in your mind, and you’re well prepared to handle each blow as it comes, and very likely to win the argument. Either card can indicate competition. To differentiate, I usually read the five as a competition you’re not quite ready for and the seven as one that you are, but that’s a personal habit I picked up somewhere along the way; feel free to use it if that works for you. Both cards also indicate conviction, although, again, there’s much more strife in the five so you may not be wholly satisfied by sticking to your conviction alone. It may be time to cool your jets and think about compromise, or it may be a time when you merely know you won’t win this argument even if you’re in the right. The Seven however assures a hard-fought, even-keeled sense of discourse where your cool head and conviction ultimately win out.
As we queer these cards, they continue to not be the most pleasant in the deck, and at times the stakes are even higher for LGBTQ+ querents. They could flat out indicate a strong amount of queerphobia in your life either in your family, at work, or in your field overall. With the Five this may be a situation that seemed unpleasant but unmanageable at first, but has gotten under your skin. As a reader I would likely advise putting up boundaries if it is a family situation, or I would advise you to seek employment elsewhere. We don’t want this situation to grow into an untameable thing, and the best course (since no compromise can be created in this situation) is to try to exit. The Seven, however, indicates that same sense of queerphobia affecting your family or work/career life except you would be called to stand your ground, and to try to fight to make change from where you are. So even though the cards present similar themes and situations, they come with wildly different paths to take. In a reading, these most often show up if asked a yes or no-ish question like “Is my family really okay with this?”, “If I move in with my partner how will my family feel?”, or “Am I emotionally and career-wise safe at work if I take this next step in my transition?” The Five says “No, the people involved in the situation will not be okay with this. It is likely you will need to put up boundaries/find a new employment situation first/expect to feel alone for a little while.” The Seven says “Yes, things will be okay with time, though it will take some fire, action, and conviction on your end.”
A lower stakes version comes when people ask about their queer family or ongoing conflicts there. While competition and conflict happen in any social circle, this can often feel amplified to queer people who already don’t have a solid social structure, so all of that Wands fire and energy can apply socially. This is pretty straightforward based on what we already know about these cards: if the queer chosen family or social circle is asked about or otherwise comes up in the reading, the Five indicates tension that may not have a resolution. Often socially this will blow over with time since there’s not a fundamental refusal to accept you as you are, but it might be rough for awhile, and you might have to be the one to bow out of the argument, lead a compromise, or enforce boundaries. The Seven though indicates that you are very likely in the right. If you stand your ground but also give other parties some space, you will come to the resolution you were hoping for.
In previous articles on the Wands, I discussed how because Wands are often that driving fiery, energetic force in our life, I often read this as the area of life one is most passionate about. I’ve also mentioned that when queering the tarot, often a person’s queer identity itself or the activism and advocacy they have chosen to take on as a result of that identity are what a person is most passionate about. This idea of social justice or really living in your identity brings up some unique things with the Five and Seven of Wands. In the very practical, the Five could be indicating that the campaign or project you’re working on will create a lot of attention and controversy—but may not end up with the desired political changes. The Seven would indicate the opposite. Getting your issue noticed and brought to light may be difficult, but ultimately the change you are seeking will occur.
One way I’ve really seen the Five, in particular, play out is when someone’s identity itself IS their passion, but then their identity starts shifting. If you brand your solo entreprenuership as being for lesbians, trans men, or asexual clients, for example, and then your own identity starts shifting, the Five is likely to come up as that internal conflict is really throwing you into a loop. Whereas the Seven being present would show you that you have a lot of loyal clients and audience and it’ll take a lot of doing to rebrand but it can be done, the Five shows you may have a harder go of it, but to resolve that tension you do need to think of a solution. This card alone may not tell you what possible solutions are, but neighboring cards may. While that’s an example with money and business on the line, it is just an example, and even if you’ve built your non-business life around your identity and it then begins shifting, these are cards likely to show up to show you where that conflict is headed.
LGBTQ+ seekers are working at a lot of unique marginalizations, but that does develop some unique passions as well. The Wands is that gut instinct and driving force in our life, and the Five and Seven still indicate arguments, fights, and strife (though that can all be overcome with the Seven). If you can think quickly and critically in a reading with even just that knowledge, you can guide a queer client (or yourself!) through these tougher times that these cards indicate. What I always come back to is looking at them as a progression. Often that Five shows up in the past or present, indicating a time where pain or disagreements cloud the querent’s thinking, making them unable to keep a cool head or find a place of peace within. The Seven always comes later though—a time when we are at the top of our game, can embrace competition or hate as a conquerable part of life, and a time when our strength and righteousness wins out. Each Five of Wands period in our life is meant to lead us to a place of the Seven of Wands, and each conflict only makes us stronger. These are rough cards when you’re in the middle of them, but they do make us better if we’re able to let them. With the Five we learn the art of compromise. We learn when to pick our battles, and that’s an unfortunate part of LGBTQ+ life too. Not every ignorant prejudiced jerk can be educated, and if they’re close in emotional intimacy or proximity with us that’s a tough pill to swallow. But ultimately that knowledge prepares you for the battles that truly matter—those represented in the Seven that crack open hearts and minds, allowing passion and raw human instinct and need for love to supercede all, and those that show us how strong we’ve become without even realizing it.
Be sure to check out the full Queering the Tarot series.