4 min read

ace of wands // the element of fire

ace of wands from the spacious tarot

hello, friends! this month we're exploring the ace of wands: the spark that initiates the tale of fiery creation, transformation, and passion. we've already looked at this pip in the context of the broader suit of wands, and the numerology of number one. silver and gold subscribers also received a spread to work with this energetic powerhouse as an ace of initiation.

today, we're going to dig a bit more into the element that shapes this card: fire.

wands is the fastest moving suit in the tarot, because fire is the fastest moving element. and if you think about how these elements literally show up in the world, it makes sense: air can move quickly too, at times, but water even it its most powerful forms tends to take more time to swell and gain momentum, and earth's movement is the slowest to build, the longest to enact change.

but fire: those dancing flames, that crackling heat, the brilliant firelight. embers and ash are one thing, but fire itself: there's an undeniable speed and energy to that rapid, endless, restless movement of a roaring blaze.

and this speed, this hunger, this power: this is the quality that we're talking about when we think about the kind of fire that is present in the ace of wands: an eager, excited, dazzling and captivating spark that demands our attention, asks us what we want to set alight.

there are multiple schools of thought when it comes to elements. in this series (and in my work in general) we're going to be primarily exploring the four western or classical elements (fire, air, water, earth), as those map the most neatly onto the tarot. however, i will draw occasionally from eastern or traditional chinese beliefs on elements as well (wood, fire, earth, metal, water), particularly when there is overlap. and as both eastern and western philosophies around elemental theory include fire, we have a few different angles to look at.

western elements (fire, earth, water, air) vs. eastern elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, water)

fire as an element, no matter which philosophy you're using, is undeniably bold. and if you think about the experience of fire itself, it makes sense: when a fire is burning, you know it. you can smell it, you can see it, you can feel it. fire light is captivating, bewitching in its movement, flattering in the way it kisses skin and glass. fire's heat and warmth can fill the room in moments, can enable us to cook or heat water for nourishment, comfort, pleasure.

western elemental theory associates fire with dry heat, and in the four elements of the wise, ivo dominguez jr. calls fire an "ascending force." he goes on to describe fire as bright, generative, intense yet subtle, with a highly variable density. fire can serve as a portal, can destroy and consume or can forge something new. it's a transformational tool, associated with willpower and life purpose.

eastern elemental philosophy, similarly, sees fire as joyful, energetic, a scattering and expansive and dynamic element. lindsay fauntleroy, in her book in our element, explains that "in the fire phase of any process, you show up to be revealed, witnessed, and celebrated." fire illuminates, attracts, radiates, blossoms. whether we're thinking about love or conflict, soothing warmth or red hot anger, fire demands to be seen, witnessed, and dealt with.

so how do these ideas show up in the tarot, and more specifically, in the ace of wands?

ace of wands from the spacious tarot
ace of wands from the spacious tarot

drawing from both eastern and western elemental theory, we can see that the tarot's cycle of wands and fire captures a lot of these same themes: transformation, boldness, courage, passion, willpower, purpose, movement, pursuit, celebration, conflict, heat, creation, destruction, and expansion. the suit of wands is dynamic and impactful, impossible to ignore.

and when we think about the lighting of a fire, the beginning of a fire, the creation of a fire, we think about tools that ignite: matches, lighters, flints, ferro rods. fire cannot be created without friction and fuel, without sparks and heat.

all of this energy, all of this possibility, is contained within the ace of wands.

no matter how substantial the fire, no matter how brightly it burns, no matter how much it consumes or transforms or refines, it starts with a simple spark. in this way, the ace of wands holds all of this potential, stored up energy, just waiting for that strike of the match, that initial ignition that allows it to alight and eventually, hopefully, burn freely.

the sun that's in our eyes / paint the picture / in blood and butter / holy water / fire in the sky -- blood & butter, caroline polachek

as you consider the suit of wands, and the various ways that the story of fire can be told, remember how the ace of wands begins the tale. what sparks are emerging from those initial strikes of flint and steel? how does the ace hold the full potential and magic of the element of fire?

how do the element of fire and the number one combine to make the ace of wands a card that's ready to combust with passion, joy, and power?

we'll have one more entry in this january ace of wands series, with some creative prompts that you can use to engage with this energy and explore it beyond the tarot. i sincerely hope you're enjoying this new spin on tarot card essays for 2024!