The Rider-Waite-Smith card emphasizes this definition of chaos before reconstruction. As most often of Rider-Waite-Smith, the mundane is shown rather than the deeper Arcane meanings of magic. Thus the conditions of discord are colorfully displayed on the Waite card. Every person is dressed in different colors implying that every ego has its own way of seeing, and none can agree on the final plan. Therefore, this card represents, chaos, quarrel, war, struggle and obstacle to the thing in hand.
The Thoth Tarot 5 of Wands, is called Strife because it is referring to Geburah (Severity) in the Suit of Fire; Geburah in the world of Atziluth, the World of Pure Spirit.
Since Geburah itself is a kind of fiery martial energy, being in the suit of fire makes it volcanic; this volcanic activity is acerbated by being also attributed to Saturn in Leo; Leo being Fire at its strongest, and Saturn being heavy and kind of gloomy, thus the fiery energy is volcanic and embittered in the 5 of Wands. This card promises that "all hell is breaking loose!" Astrologer's know that Saturn is the planet of strife for it represents time. In fact, time is strife for all living things, as it is the agent of aging.
Yet, the central symbol of Crowley's card represents the Wand of the Chief Adept of Geburah, which implies that the authority behind Strife, is derived from Superior Sources and may not be as disastrous as first "blink" would imply. If that isn't enough to make you question the velocity of the up coming cataclysm, there are also the 2 wands of the Major Adept, all aglow with their Phoenix heads, suggesting the purgation through fire and the resurrection of the pure energy from its ashes. The 2 lotus wands belong to the Minor Adept and represent the Daughters (so to speak) of the Wands in the 3 of Wands, and thus the 5 of Wands has the mitigating influence of the Mother. Geburah, who is "another state of conscious energy" that is Binah.
Binah as Geburah is severe energy that seems irrational and disturbing, yet it comes from the benign and loving influence of the Great Mother. Hence, this activity is motivated by what is called "tough Love". This is not an unknown phenomena in the Ancient Mysteries, compare Bhavani and Kali in the Hindu system and you will see that the Great Mother is both Loving and Sever.
When we get too complacent in our life, locked into our comfort zones, we begin to putrefy mentally, emotionally, physically and Spiritually. So strife comes along, and kicks us straight in the "slats" to get us moving, creating and passionate again. Strife is because your are valuable as a moving-creative being and you know and I know, that we are motivated by Strife! Strife is like a course grained sand paper, that sands us smooth of all rough edges, making us more aerodynamic for motion.
When the 5 or Five of Wands card is thrown during a reading it implies:
For Example: If the reader is doing a Celtic Cross reading, and the 5 of Wands lands on the "House and Home" position, there is soon to be, or is now being, quarreling, argument, and fighting in their immediate environment, that is very passionate and usually means in a relationship, be it family, or lover.
If the 5 of Wands lands in the position of "finds you", the significator position, it usually means that the querent is in internal Strife over a situation and are unable to make a decision. Where the cards fall, tells all!
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