If I had to sum up the entire sight of Wands into one card, this is the rare suit where it wouldn’t be the King, Queen, or even Ace. Sure those cards have their own importance and symbols of intense fire, but nothing screams the messages we’ve looked at so far as loudly as the Knight. Knights are fighters, fighting intensely for the things and people they’ve sworn fealty too, and a Knight of Wands specifically is shining example of that adventurous spirit, lust for life, and desire for change we’ve been discussing for months now. In addition, when we look at the downfall of a suit built on fire and gut instinct, the Knight upholds those archetypes to a T too. This Knight for all of their zest and good intent often burn out, losing interest or expending too much energy too quickly. They’re impulsive, and while they’re who you want around for the launch of your new project, don’t expect them to be there at the end. The Knight of Wands loves a hot pursuit, and in fact, one may be on the horizon for you—but the pursuit and the chase are often all this Knight has in them. This applies when it’s an energy manifesting in your own life too. You may find yourself full of piss and vigor one day and completely over it or exhausted the next. As advice it pushes you to experiment with a new passion or adventure, but warns that your own lack of follow-through could do any long-term success in. As an event, the Knight of Wands rushes in, inspiring and creating change quickly. It’s a succession of wins, it’s a sudden collapse of something that was holding other things back, or it’s one big opportunity that you’ve got to grab and ride for all it’s worth. This card in any case rushes in bringing big ideas and fully equipped to start a wildfire.
As we’ve looked at queering the tarot, and specifically queering the Wands and how that specifically affects our social justice movements, the Knight translates easily to people we all know and love. Harvey Milk was a Knight of Wands if I’ve ever seen one, as was Marsha P. Johnson. When you need to start a revolution through politics or riot, the Knight of Wands is at the forefront pushing down those doors for you. Like any court card, this card can represent the querent in question or someone new and powerful entering your world. I would argue that in either case you’re being encouraged to take on that energy, either of your own accord or in emulation of the third party. The Knight of Wands can of course be social movements themselves. Stonewall itself was a Knight of Wands, quickly changing the course of LGBTQ+ future though not lasting long in and of itself.
The dark side of the Knight of Wands shows that while I often speak highly of fire, it’s nature is inherently destructive. The AIDS epidemic of the ’80s could arguably be considered a Knight of Wands. While that time frame is a lot longer than we would consider this card normally, the way it came upon wreaking havoc so quickly, and the way it left permanent scars we can not erase even as things stabilized still mark the time with this card. That’s another important element of the Knight of Wands—once fire has started, there’s often no stopping it, and with the Knight flaming fully, all potential and instinct, the Knight creates lasting damage, often permanent, in it’s week. Which means that while the queer community can easily use this card and this energy to smash the patriarchy, open new doors for LGBTQ+ kids, and who knows what else, there’s a lesson in here too to watch our backs for Knights with different agendas and loyalties sneaking in behind us. I could, of course, speak to a number of current events in this statement as well.
The Knight of Wands is a powerful card, and for queer seekers can come as a warning or an inspiration. It does show up in our microcosms too, though, and while that rarely has the weight of the collective concerns raised above, still bears substantial weight. For many young querents who have recently come out, this heralds the immense passion and lust that can come with first queer love. Someone is likely rushing into this person’s life to sweep them totally off their fight, and yes, after the process of coming out and all of the ups and downs that can often come with, the querent deserves every bit of excitement and passion and joy this Knight can bring. That same warning still stands though, and often clients of all identities come in asking about their current relationship, receive this card, and aren’t too thrilled to see that lack of follow-through. So while this card brings all the highs of new queer love that the Netflix “gay and lesbian” channel promises us, it can also bring news of dire heartbreak at the end. Even so, I will usually encourage seekers to pursue and ride this out for everything you can. LGBTQ+ people spend most of our lives being told we should be ashamed of our sexuality, that it is too big, dangerous, brazen. This is a harmful, dangerous message. Everyone deserves good sex and to honor themselves in that way, and as long as you can handle this not being a forever person, it’s a strong, strong sign to go for it.
The Knight of Wands applies to anything that we’re passionate about and affected deeply by. For queer seekers this can also include pursuit of a chosen family, artistic expression, alternative spiritual paths, and so many other things—as, of course, it can for anyone, but these do manifest differently for those in our community. These are things LGBTQ+ often need as part of their healing from societal or familial oppression and struggle, and the intensity and burning they bring into our lives at first is often the first time we feel alive since choking down emotions regarding our treatment and history. When that pursuit ends or the fire dies down to manageable (or blows out entirely), or alternatively when it blooms into something so large and out of control we couldn’t have foreseen it, it leaves a stinging numbness that makes us question if we’ll feel that again (or if we should ever have striven to in the first place). In readings for non-queer seekers, the Knight of Wands often brings primarily good things, just with some warnings, but when you’ve been marginalized or traumatized that sudden cold leaves every bit the scar being burnt does. In these cases, I pull some additional cards for healing, or to show the seeker where they can still find that fire, be it in themselves or through external sources. This is a card that because of it’s quick, urgent, but ultimately transient, pursuit-oriented nature often can’t be read alone, especially when we’re dealing with deeper issues.
The Knight of Wands packs a powerful fiery punch no matter what though: while I don’t like to shy away from the negativity in this card, most LGBTQ+ people are eager for sudden, substantial change, and when wielded with another weapon (perhaps one aimed at longevity and foresight), the energy of this card allows us to be a messenger and an agent of that very change. This is a card that promises adventure and sensuality, excitement and power. For all marginalized people this card shows up to remind us that these things too are a part of life that we are entitled too, and that through these ideas we regain and reclaim our power. It’s a call to remember that no matter how many times the fire in this card blows out, we are fully capable of picking it up again, and a reminder that should things get out of control—well, that was probably what was supposed to happen anyway. Just don’t run away leaving the next person in line to clean up your mess.
Be sure to check out the full Queering the Tarot series.