Five youths, each carrying a long wooden truncheon, are at play in a field. Or are they not really playing? Could they be fighting instead, or training for war, or could they be erecting the frame of a shelter of some sort?
The answer is, most likely, a bit of each, and they all compliment each other to some degree. Fives are generally considered unstable in a Tarot reading, but since Wands represent the realm of Atziluth—the most remote of the four worlds from our own—whatever struggle is implied by the Five is likely of the least destructive variety. The “struggle” depicted here involves the learning of self-discipline: Conditioning both body and mind through exercises such as sports—that require us to concentrate on an objective, then work with others to accomplish it—or games such as chess, that require us to anticipate problems before they arise and to cultivate superior problem-solving skills.
There’s no denying that both sports and games have their martial aspect, each having victors and vanquished; they can become an unhealthy obsession that can contribute to antisocial behavior, and taken too far, they can even lead to acts of violence —the “dark side” of the card. But they are also good developmental tools for the young, and the lessons they learn—the importance of teamwork in sports, of critical thinking in games—will serve them well when they enter into adulthood; their attitudinal “framework”, so to speak, will have been soundly laid. The lads in the card aren’t capable of doing that yet, but they’ll get there if they keep at it. As we exercise our bodies and outer minds with physical and mental exercise, so too with our inner minds through regular prayer, meditation, dream analysis, and Tarot study. These activities keep our spiritual “framework” on a sound foundation in adulthood.
Meanings in a reading can include: Spiritual self-discipline, “healthy competition”, “building blocks” of character, the process of maturing, objectives met through teamwork, and good sportsmanship in life; but also dissipation, cheating, violence and war, poor sports and “spoil sports.” Life isn’t a game—it’s more multifaceted than that—but it should give us as much pleasure as the games we played as children. Let’s think of what brings that kind of joy to our lives, then help each other to achieve our goals—no longer to “win,” but to be happy.