Today I drew the Five of Wands, which represents Conflict, Tension, Competition and Disagreement. When I think of these words, they usually have negative connotations, but after thinking more about them, I have realised that there are also positives to these qualities.

Five of Wands - Shadowscapes Tarot
Five of Wands – Shadowscapes Tarot

For me, the Five of Wands represents those times where you feel like everything in the world is against you. Your alarm doesn’t go off in the morning so you wake up running late, you turn the shower on and there’s no hot water, you get to the pantry and realise you forgot to buy cereal, so instead you have toast, and then you drop it on your shirt. You get to the train station to find out the train’s been cancelled, and then you finally get to work and your boss tells you you weren’t even rostered on. Nothing is going right, everything just keeps piling up until you just want to scream. This is the Five of Wands.

I like how the Shadowscapes card represents these hassles, in the form of the skulk of foxes. By themselves they are just small obstructions, but when gathered in one place like this they become an overwhelming wall to overcome. Just like what happens when all those little problems pile up, by themselves they are easy to deal with, but as they increase it gets harder and harder to handle.

For the central figure it’s like an uphill struggle of living, breathing obstacles. Which, to speak truthfully, is what life can feel like sometimes. All he wants to do is get up the hill. All the foxes want to do is chase the hare. This is the basis of Conflict, finding your will or desire thwarted by the wills or desires of others. It can be exhausting and often it seems so much easier just to give up, but if we arise to the challenge like the figure in the card and let the adrenaline awaken our mind, body and spirit, we can overcome any situation.

An aspect of this card that I have never noticed before is the brown figure underneath the central figure, possibly a fox, but to me looks a bit like a wolf. I think he is symbolic of those times when the conflict or competition gets too much and that voice in your head tells you ‘just give up’. When everything piling up is just getting too hard and all you want to do is lie down and let the tide of contention wash over and pass. This can be dangerous however, as you can see in this card, you easily be trampled by the onrush.

Conflict and tension can often arise when people are at cross purposes. When people are trying to express their opinions or views they are often so concerned with their beliefs, that they don’t truly listen to each other. And this causes unnecessary tension. But conflict and competition aren’t always bad things. Often, when conflicting energies are present you just have to be patient and calm. Try and build a positive space where each person can express their views and be heard. By doing so you can develop stronger more well rounded ideas, and often come out with a better product as a result. And as for competition, well we can all do with it now and then. It stimulates extra effort and can promote excitement and enthusiasm that may otherwise be lacking. This is one thing I like about this interpretation of the Five, I feel a real jovial energy coming from the foxes, as if they are enjoying the competition.

So the next time I feel like the world is throwing obstacle after obstacle, or there is an energy of conflict and tension around me, I’m going to think about this card, and make sure to infuse the situation with the energy of the foxes and keep on going, with my goal lit up in front of me like the central figure, never giving up!

Until next time, live well.


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