4 min read

three of wands // the messy heat of fire

three of candles (wands) from the numinous tarot
three of candles // three of wands from the numinous tarot

hello, friends. a reminder that if you've been eagerly awaiting the return of devils & digits or are interested in expanding your tarot practice with a variety of resources on your own terms, the 3am.tarot conservatory is officially open! the available spots for this initial launch are already filling up (thank you to everyone who has already joined!), and i'll be announcing this on social media tomorrow — so if you're interested in joining this first wave of students, make sure you snag your spot ASAP.

now, onto today's thoughts on the element of fire, specifically as it manifests in the three of wands.

colorful fireworks against a black sky

if the one of wands' fire is the spark, and two of wands' fire is the gathering of kindling, the three of wands' fire is what happens when we let those two things combine into a bright, eagerly burning flame, one that we aren't afraid to let others see and celebrate.

i think of the three of wands like fireworks: exciting, joyful, and meant to be seen. i remember going to fireworks shows as a kid, gathering in anticipation after the sun set, trying to find a spot with the best view. waiting breathlessly, wondering when things would begin. watching the attention build, the children chatter anxiously. and then, even after the fireworks finally started, delighting in that element of surprise and unpredictability: what colors will emerge? which strange combinations will come together? how will these different shapes and energies and heights and depths create something magical and fleeting, something that may be permanent but still leaves an impression of joy and wonder? and how long after the show is over will the exhilaration last?

beautiful and ephemeral as they are, fireworks can be messy, even dangerous, if they aren't handled with respect, are used recklessly, or aren't paid attention to. fireworks demand our awareness, both for their beauty and also for our safety. i would argue that their unpredictability and potential for danger is part of what makes fireworks so exciting — you never quite know what might happen. you just have to roll with it, and be present in the magic.

we've already noted how the number three likes to be witnessed, enjoyed, celebrated, and valued for its work and effort. and fire is the same way: fire wants to burn brightly. like fireworks, the three of wands wants to be appreciated, delighted in, recognized. this is an energy that wants to make an impression, that refuses to be ignored.

three of candles (wands) from the numinous tarot
three of candles (wands) from the numinous tarot

fire is an element that can't really be contained or controlled, not completely — there is also some risk, some protective measures that must be taken. we can work with fire, we can protect it, or we can let it burn freely: but fire cannot be tamed, only used with attention and reverence. when we downplay what fire actually does, we disrespect it, and will ultimately get burned.

but when we use it for its purpose: when we channel its heat as a tool, when we honor its light as illumination, when we celebrate its warmth as a comfort, or when we playfully let it shine, we can activate transformational power within and around us. when we let fire be fire, instead of trying to make it be something more palatable, more quiet, more submissive, we unleash the full potential of this element.

we make something new, bold and brash, inventive and powerful. and then we see how the world will receive it, how it will be interpreted and understood, how it will create reactions, how it will awe or inspire. we cannot necessarily control how that fire will burn, and what it may leave in its wake — but we can ensure that for the moment that fire is experienced, it changes us, and may even set something new in motion.

when thinking about the three of wands, i think it's important to remember that three isn't afraid of fire. three wants that fire to burn bright, to consume and transmute, to illuminate and change, to dazzle and delight. in the three of wands, we find a potent, combustible combination that demands our attention, even if it also brings uncertainty, or the potential for a messy aftermath.

when the fireworks have finished their exciting explosions, when the sky has grown dark again and all we can see is smoke and ash lingering in the air, who will we have become in those brief, dazzling moments? what fires will we light next, and what will we have learned from that brilliant, messy joy?

merry & pip from the lord of the rings films, smudged with ash after setting off gandolf's fireworks
handle with care

how does this card make you feel? what does fire evoke in you? is it exciting, uncomfortable, passionate, wild, feral? is your instinct to contain and control it, to let it burn wild and free, or something in between?

in addition to turning in a new book draft tomorrow (!!!) and opening up the conservatory, i've also been making a lot of reels on instagram lately, offering tips on specific tarot cards and general reading practices. have something you want me to cover in 90 seconds or less? check out the series and leave your questions in the comments: