In the first deck I ever truly learned tarot on, the King of Wands sits on his throne looking excited, determined, and kind. This kindness, which is actually not as common in other decks, has colored my entire relationship with this card and this version of that fiery Wands energy. The King of Wands is a natural born leader, but whereas the queen does often lead with dominance and creativity, the King leads with kindness and almost seems like he’s letting you in on a secret as he encourages you to change the world with him. This King is very honorable, and will never crack his own idealistic code. As an event, these are the moments we learn that wrecking the system requires working with the system, at least for a time, though never cheating or manipulating our way in. As an energy, this King is every bit the raw fire that the Queen is, just applied differently. This King in any format likes challenges, and will often argue just to win, though I personally read even that trait with a touch of cheekiness to it. Speaking of cheeky, this King loves a practical joke and has a true lust for life when it comes to big belly laughs.
When Queering the Tarot, the King and Queen have quite a bit in common. They are both natural leaders in social justice movements. They are both strong lovers, and they both lack the follow through one would hope for in an otherwise great leader or partner. There are some substantial differences though, especially when we see the kindness and mischief in this King and accept the Queen as leader of this suit. Whereas the Queen tirelessly organizes and leads our social justice movements in the margins where the rest of us are, the King likes to play diplomat, actually going out and having hard conversations about political bills that are advancing or breaking down racism in one on one conversations with people. He works tirelessly too, and is always willing to do the crucial emotional labor that many of us in the activist or LGBTQ+ don’t have the energy for. As a major face card in the fiery suit of Wands, his passion for community and justice run every bit as deep as the Queen’s. In addition to having those hard conversations, this card is also the community leader who throws potluck dinners so we can all come together, and is often seen heading up arts groups doing important work. Crucial fighting for marginalized people’s rights and dignities happens in marches, courtrooms, and in the streets—but it happens elsewhere too. It happens in theatres, in conversations with high school friends, at brunches where co-workers are, and that’s where you’ll find the King of Wands working to open people’s hearts and minds.
Outside of his activist work, you’ll find Kings of Wands of all genders at the bar after hours looking for bossy lovers. While the King of Wands isn’t a bottom per se, he loves the back and forth that comes with meeting other fiery people and taking them home. Like the Queen, he’s incredibly sex-driven, but where as she likes to command and be followed, he just wants to have a good time. He’s willing to let you win those bedroom brawls if that sounds the most fun, but he’s hoping you’re a switch too. As a romantic partner, the King has a little bit easier of a time with monogamy than the queen—if your intellectual and physical connection are compelling enough, that is. That being said, if the King keeps coming up in readings when you’re struggling with monogamy, you might want to think about your own drives and desires and how important non-monogamy may actually be to you. Even if you’re in a relationship and choose not to open it up, knowing you’re a polyamorous person choosing to be monogamous is a completely different experience than believing you, left to your own devices, are monogamous. However, whereas the Queen often feels best with multiple partners, the King is often just as happy with one solid partner and occasional flings or one night stands. The Kink community on the whole is recognized in this card, so we might not get “submissive” or “dominant” from this one card alone, but we do know you need a little more driving your carnal life than others are happy with.
I’ve touched on how queering this card can often mean arts leadership, and that is more true in the queer community than elsewhere. An LGBTQ+ person coming in for a reading who feels unsatisfied by their job situation is likely craving raw creativity and “true art”, even if they can’t define the latter. Arts leadership is where a lot of our queer advocacy and community-building happens, and I would strongly encourage such a person to organize an open mic or try curating a show or directing a play to satisfy that nagging feeling that there is “more.” Because this card is gut instinct and creativity but is also natural leadership skill, they make perfect artistic directors, art dealers, and creative producers in any medium they hone in on. As mentioned in the Queen of Wands piece, queer people are so often told that our gut instinct is wrong, and learning to overcome that coding and speak out is liberating. Someone with King of Wands energy will learn to use that freeing feeling to create artistic opportunities for others to do the same, and this is just conjecture, but I believe that’s why LGBTQ+ people specifically make great arts leaders when receiving the King of Wands card often in their readings.
Then there is that pesky piece about the gut instinct. When utilized like the Queen of Wands, we overcome all of those years of being told our gut instinct about ourselves and our desires is not enough or straight up that we’re not good enough, and we become masters of trusting our gut over time. However, a King of Wands as that more playful side of fire personified may start losing control, relying on gut instincts and urges (and happily conflating the two) instead of applying logic or emotion to the situation. While this is always a concern for someone who regularly receives the King of Wands in readings, for an LGBTQ+ person who spent years denying this instinct and believing it was wrong there is an extra danger in losing control when we start trying to own that part of ourselves. The King of Wands can bring a strong reassurance that trusting your gut is right and safe and good—but it can also bring a quick warning. Our gut instinct’s concern is keeping us safe in the moment. It doesn’t care where we want to be in five, ten, or fifteen years. Which does mean that it isn’t always right. When it’s telling you not to trust someone you just met, or that maybe you shouldn’t spend that extra $200 on new shoes you should definitely listen to it. If it’s telling you to burn down the things in your life that you love because of a self-destructive coping mechanism that you developed as a closeted queer person? You probably shouldn’t listen to that. Self-destruction is very present in the King of Wands. Fire is beautiful, and creative, and it burns unnecessary things to the ground. It’s also dangerous and easy to lose control of. The challenge of this card is learning that balance. Learning to temper your moods, your gut urges, or your raw fire are crucial for a King of Wands—or for someone receiving the card frequently in readings.
Be sure to check out the full Queering the Tarot series.