Prince of Wands


A young man clad in a full suit of armor pulls on the reins of his bucking steed. Like his father the King, he also wears the robe of the salamander; his helmet sports a fire-red plume, and his fire-ravaged lands are parched and dry. Is he about to go charging into battle, or is he simply attempting to tame a skittish colt?

Princes (or “Knights,” using Waite’s nomenclature) represent the “son” principle of creation; in this case, the “airy” part of fire, which is to say, the most complimentary but also the most combustible and unpredictable. Just as fire should be tempered by the amount of air it receives lest it burn out of control, so too with the Prince and his stallion. His impulse to heal by fire is admirable, but in his youthful exuberance, he may very well lose his “temper” and go flying off in a rage. This may explain the presence of fourteen leaves on his wand, which correspond to card XIV of the Trumps Major, “Temperance.”

The Prince has been assigned the astrological sign of Leo, sign of fixed fire. It is the card of the zealot and the new convert; full of noble ideas but lacking the self-discipline, or the flexibility, to fully realize them; this is represented by the bucking horse the prince strains to control.

Meanings of this card in a spread can include: Departure of unpleasant feelings, equilibrium regained, the spirit of spontaneity, a noble cause, fervor of the new convert, or a young man born under a fire sign; but also overzealousness, lack of self-discipline, a quarrelsome nature, events spinning out of control, or self-destructive behavior. Since the Princes of the Tarot are all depicted on horseback, implying movement, they generally represent the coming or going of an event or episode in the life of the querent: Something passing or about to commence. In this instance, that means something potentially illuminating or potentially destructive. The outcome mostly depends on the querent’s state of mind. 

Dante DiMatteo

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