In Queering the Tarot, Cassandra Snow takes the most common interpretations and manifestations of the cards and discuss ways you might read them for a LGBTQQIA* client—or for yourself. Read the whole series here!
The Minor Arcana
In the Tarot, cards are generally separated into two parts–the Major Arcana, which are thought of as being more about archetypes, things the Divine or universal energy brings about, or bigger picture themes and ideas for you to focus on as you navigate your journey. The Minor Arcana then, are cards that focus on smaller picture things. Either they look at specific areas of life, help problem solve more minor (in the grand scheme of things) issues. They focus on the Earthly or “mundane”, whereas the Majors are often more spiritually or philosophically inclined. Because these are often “lower bearing” cards, and because often one card’s meaning or relevance is correlated to the cards that precede or follow it, we may not cover each of the cards individually in this part of the series.
Let’s jump in!
The Kitty Kahane Tarot
Queering the Tarot: Ace of Wands
I wanted to start with the Wands, because they take on the most “extra” stuff, in my experience, when queering the tarot. Wands are cards of Fire, of passion, determination, intuition, and energy. They’re action oriented, often requiring quick decisions and fast work when they come up. As such, I’ve long considered this the suit most concerned with “the area of life you’re most passionate about.”
For many of us, this is our careers, our families, or a hobby that we’ve chosen to never monetize for sheer love of it. For some it’s intuition, spirituality, or even life for its’ own sake. The Aces bring news itself, or they bring something new. I’ve seen this be both things in the Wands – I have seen news related to that job/partner/spiritual path you’re most passionate about, and I’ve seen it be new ideas, a burst of creativity, or a fit of intuition that powers you through a tough decision. It’s a pretty straightforward card the way I read, but one that still has several dozen applications still.
When originally queering the wands, one of the biggest things I saw was that often the thing a queer seeker is most passionate about is their queer identity itself, or their role as a queer activist or community member. Our identities and our right to live and express them are the things we find ourselves fighting for with unmatched fervor and commitment. Queer activism keeps us tirelessly fighting, and queer community is where we fall when we do get tired, and what we work through our fatigue to build and protect. There are no words for the way many queer people approach this side of life except the ones we ascribe to the Wands: determination, fire, and passion.
Knowing this specific application of the Wands overall brings a logical conclusion to queering the Ace: news related to our queer activism or community is coming. I’ve seen this be everything from new hangouts cropping up that are safe for your chosen queer family, to that endless work of marching and letter writing coming to fruition. This is when an important piece of legislation moves through, a community removes a barrier, or new words are added to the dictionary that validate those who felt invisible.
The Ace of Wands, when queered, can come out extremely literally as well. For example, if you’re deciding between two partners, this card tells you go where the passion and attraction is. While this isn’t specific to LGBTQ+ seekers, issues of attraction do come up a lot for those clients (and myself), and this card is welcome permission to follow your groin. It’s likely acting as an agent of the same intuition this card also serves. On this track of literalism, I’ve seen Aces indicate asexuality, and this one itself doesn’t often (there’s a very sexual nature to cards that indicate fire), if reversed or surrounded by cards affirming this interpretation, it could. For poly clients, this is often a new relationship, unrelated to any of your current ones.
Alternatively, if someone is questioning if they may be poly or not, or if they are open to it, an Ace is a likely “No,” as the “one” becomes the most important part. This is especially true for the Ace of Wands. All of the wands, as mentioned, have a fiery, passionate, and therefore primal, carnal nature – but if you’re regularly getting just a One when questioning your relationship orientation, you are probably not ready for a polyamorous relationship, and are likely monogamous by nature. This idea of focusing on Ace as One also stretches into those questioning their sexual identity. While many of us have a very firm grip of who we are sexually and romantically, a lot of younger seekers or newly out seekers (or not out at all seekers) will come to me asking if I can help give them insight onto if they might be gay, pan, bi or if perhaps they are straight after all. Again, while most of the wands and many of the other cards would indicate non-monosexuality, the Ace likely indicates that you are attracted to one gender.
One note before we move on: there are a lot of readers, books, etc. that do address sex and gender in a generally progressive and LGBTQ+ inclusive way. That’s great, and obviously something I want to see way more of. However, I have seen Wands default to penis due to the phallic nature of many common depictions (and many literary metaphors used over time). While this is absolutely valid in some cases, and I have seen that be wildly helpful to not only some of my clients, this can be a trans exclusive interpretation if you’re not careful. When queering the tarot, or hell, just talking to people out in the world and being decent, it’s perfectly acceptable to talk about anatomy. But there are people who are not men who have penises, and there are men who do not have penises. Understanding and keeping this mind when you talk about the role anatomy does or does not play in the situation is crucial. Don’t assume if you tell someone that, for example, based on the cards the partner with the penis is more trustworthy, that that is a male partner. The potential partner in question could be a trans woman, they could be non-binary, they could be intersex, and that’s just to start. Really if people take one thing away from my entire series or need a single starting point for being a reader who is accessible to LGBTQ+ seekers it should be this: never assume someone’s gender, pronouns, or sexual identity, and ask respectful, relevant questions if any of it comes up in a reading.
The Ace of Wands then does deal with sex and gender, as we’ve seen. Most often though, it is about that fire and passion for life, or for that area of life that brings our true passion to the surface. While we talk about our advocacy work as queer people as tireless, we know that’s not true. We get exhausted. We get hurt. We don’t win every battle, and too many losses in a row dampens our spirit. Then we’re tired of fighting, and so often we’re tired of who we are becoming a political statement even when we need a break from that world.
It is then that Ace of Wands, usually a welcome sign but especially so in this case, shows up to promise us renewed vigor to get us past that last leg, or perhaps a burst of inspiration that lights the way to the finish line that was once not in sight. The Ace of Wands doesn’t promise us that our spark will never burn out, but it does promise us that every time we burn out, our torch will be re-lit in time. This is a message that queer people need in a world that wants us to keep fighting or stop existing, and in communities that mean well but don’t always assess the frailty of human bodies and spirits before pulling us all in. This is a message of fire, it is news regarding fire, it is new fire. But in the case of this Ace, it’s also a message of hope that shows up just when we start wondering if all this fighting is worth hoping for at all.
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