Thanksgiving and the Four of Wands

For those living in the US, this Thursday is Thanksgiving. So I thought I’d take a moment today to talk about the card that most makes me think of Thanksgiving: the Four of Wands.

This holiday has two dimensions to it. The first is an atavistic, mildly racist narrative about the first European settlers in America coming together with the native populations (whom they subsequently terrorized and tried to eradicate with warfare and with smallpox) to celebrate the harvest and prepare for their first winter on the continent. We’re going to set that aspect aside for the purposes of this post. It’s better left to historians, politicians, and elementary-school theatrical performances.

Instead, I’d like to talk about the second aspect of Thanksgiving: what the holiday means if you strip it of the pseudo-history and just focus on the modern context. It’s a holiday when extended family reunites, drawing together from all corners of the United States. It’s a day for community, for charity, and (most obviously) for thankfulness.

wands04

No card in the Tarot pack better represents these themes to my mind than the Four of Wands. In the various Tarot journal scribbles I have for this card, scattered across space and time, I’ve written keywords like “holiday”, “family gathering”, “celebration”, “giving back”, and “community”. None of these words, on its own, perfectly captures the meaning of the Four of Wands, and in fact I think this is one of the most subtle and nuanced cards in the entire deck. But bringing all of these disparate meanings together forms a constellation in my mental starscape, a constellation that’s perhaps best named “Thanksgiving”.

This is going to be a shorter post than what I normally put up on this blog. I have little more to say on this, except to wish everyone in America a happy Thanksgiving and to hope everyone is able to spend time with family this weekend. I’ll try to get another post up sometime this week (to make up for my having missed last week), but if I don’t, best wishes to you all, and you’ll hear from me again come December.

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