Saturn and the Delicate Fire of Wands
The Five of Wands is known, by and by large, for its Waite-Smith depiction: five young men engaged in a free-for-all skirmish with one another, all seeking to prove their merit, to one another as well as themselves:
In this construction of the Lord of Strife, we see represented the decan of Saturn in Leo, a seat where the planet is in detriment. The lord of all things leaden, heavy, and inevitable, finds himself out of place, if only for a moment, in the martial suit. No armor or injury is visible. This is not a fight to the death, but a sparring match, all for sport. The worst that can come of violence has been temporarily suspended. The fight is playful, perhaps even more erotic than it is violent. Levity overcomes gravity.
Once the events of the Ten of Wands transpire, however, Saturn will have moved into Sagittarius, where he is not so impeded. The realities of war come in due time to those who do not heed the weight of the world, and eventually, we see the staves of the fallen carried off the battlefield almost as though they were bushels of wheat:
Just because the conflict of the Five of Wands is mostly safe does not mean that continuing down the path of Wands remains so. That looming presence of the saturnine, of what it materially means to feed aggressive desire, and to yearn for conflict, is one of the card’s oft missed undertones. If these boys are indeed sent off to war, it is altogether possible that none will return.
The Somnia Tarot portrays this looming threat quite elegantly:
Though the presence of air bolsters flame, the delicate flames of the candles are threatened by the wind that can be borne of the bellows. A tool like this is most often used to feed fire, and to allow it to grow, though such an infusion of air is more likely to snuff out the five candles on display altogether, perhaps in service of a greater fire. Whatever vitality they carry can be repurposed as fuel for something else— or snuffed out for no reason whatsoever.
In this manner, Saturn looms over the whole Suit of Wands. A temporary suspension of the weight of life does not remove it from reality. When this card is pulled, all passionate conflict and competition, even when mere sport, should be reexamined for what it serves, what it feeds, and what might come of it. This is worth assessing in the context of any reading where this particular card is present.