3 of Wands: Tarot Card Meaning

By Lauren Williams
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3 of Wands Keywords


  • Preparation
  • Future Planning
  • Progress
  • Opportunity
  • expansion
  • Growth
  • Forward Thinking
  • Vision
  • Optimism
  • Looking Ahead
  • Enterprise
  • Travel


  • Delays
  • Lack of Foresight
  • Expectation
  • Restriction
  • Miscommunication
  • Obstacles
  • Impatience
  • Disappointment
  • Closed-Mindedness
  • Lack of Motivation
  • Overlooking Details
  • Hindered Progress

3 of Wands Essential Meanings Snapshot

The 3 of Wands tarot card is emblematic of exploration, forward-thinking, and growth. It calls to those who are not afraid to look beyond the horizon for opportunities. A surge of optimism and a desire of fulfillment drive the person drawn to this card. They are filled with a sense of anticipation and eager to embark on their journey. The 3 of Wands is about the rewards of foresight, hard work, and planning, signifying that the time for action has come.


Upright, the 3 of Wands denotes progress, expansion, and opportunities. It is a positive card that indicates your plans are now in motion and you can expect success and growth.


When reversed, the 3 of Wands can suggest delays, lack of foresight, and disappointment. This might mean your plans are not turning out as you’d hoped due to unforeseen circumstances or a lack of planning.

3 of Wands Description

The 3 of Wands displays a man standing on a cliff, overlooking the sea. In his hand, he securely holds a wand while two others stab into the ground at his side.

The man stands tall, with a sense of grounded strength and determination. His back is turned towards us, symbolizing his focus is on the future, not on what’s been left behind.

A 3 of Wands tarot card depicting a man standing in front of three trees.

The sea, vast and endless, represents opportunities and potential. Shades of oranges and yellows fill the skyline, depicting the dawn of a new day and energizing the scene with a sense of promise.

Merchant ships can faintly be discerned in the distance, hinting at future rewards of commerce and exchange.

The robust figure and the indifferent backdrop, together suggest that our protagonist is a visionary explorer, ready to venture into uncharted territories.

He wears a loose, flowing red cloak, hinting at passion, adventure, and spirit. The man’s clear view of the horizon instills confidence and the sense that he’s prepared for what’s to come.

Overall, the 3 of Wands presents a powerful imagery of anticipation for a fruitful journey, symbolizing foresight, preparation, and adventure.

Beyond the Surface: Symbolic Meanings

When exploring into the symbolic meanings of the 3 of Wands tarot card, we should properly contextualize each depicted element.

  • The Man: Recognizes the seeker or the individual conducting the reading. His solitary figure signifies self-reliance and individualism. He serves as a call to embrace independence in our decision-making processes and trust our intuition.
  • The Wands: The wands he is holding represent creative energy, passion, and personal growth. They denote the bearer’s ambitions and the readiness to put these aspirations into action.
  • The Ships in the Distance: Implies a long journey, either literal or metaphorical. This can signify an upcoming journey or a period of growth, encouragement to step out of our comfort zones and welcome new experiences.
  • The Distant Mountain: Represents obstacles or challenges. This hints at the need for determination and resilience. Overcoming these challenges is the path to reaching our goals.
  • The Yellowish Sky: Symbolizes new beginnings and optimism. Even in the face of challenges, the Converse sky may indicate that something positive is on the horizon.

Exploring these symbolic meanings can provide deeper insights into the card’s message and how it relates to the seeker’s current circumstances or queries.

Dual Perspectives: Upright & Reversed

Upright 3 of Wands

When the 3 of Wands appears in an upright position, it signifies time of anticipation and looking forward. There is a sense of progress and growth, as plans that have been in the works are beginning to yield results.

Many users of Tarot associate this card with expansion or advancing towards a goal. This card also represents a visionary outlook, exploring possibilities, and having confidence in one’s path.

Reversed 3 of Wands

In contrast, when the 3 of Wands is reversed, there may be delays, setbacks, or stagnation. This can signal that you’re feeling restricted or held back in some way.

Facing obstacles in reaching your goals due to lack of foresight, planning, or inability to take action are other inferred meanings. Importantly, it can also suggest a need to reassess your plans and adjust your strategy.

Just as viewing a situation from different angles can help us understand it better, so can viewing the 3 of Wands from its upright and reversed perspectives. These contrasting meanings help capture the complexities of our lives and the decisions we make.

3 of Wands in Life Scenarios

The 3 of Wands Tarot card provides insights and guidance in various life situations. By understanding its symbolism and interpretations, one can make better choices and face life with more clarity.

Growth & Self-Discovery

When seen in the light of personal growth and self-discovery, the 3 of Wands signifies an impending phase of expansion. This card is an affirmation that the steps you have taken thus far in your life journey are in alignment with your higher purpose.

It’s a prediction of spiritual and emotional growth. You may find yourself embarking on a journey of self-awareness, seeking new experiences or adopting a more open-minded perspective on life.

Career and Creativity

In terms of career and creativity, the 3 of Wands can be a positive sign, indicating success and recognition. This card often appears when new opportunities are on the horizon.

It could mean expanding your business, receiving a promotion or seeing the fruits of your labor finally taking shape. It inspires forward momentum, urging you to take bold actions and seize the opportunities that come your way.

Relationships & Bonds

In the context of relationships, the 3 of Wands suggests positive growth and development. If you’re in a relationship, the 3 of Wands indicates that your partnership is evolving and enhancing mutual understandings.

For singles, the card stands for the potential of forming a relationship that could have far-reaching implications – one that could change your life for the better. It suggests expanding your social circle or meeting someone who comes from a different culture or background.

To read more about the 3 of Wands in the context of feelings, read our 3 of Wands as Feelings article.

Choices & Life Decisions

When it comes to making important decisions, the 3 of Wands calls for a broad vision and high aspirations. It suggests taking the time to plan and strategize for the future.

You may have to step out of your comfort zone, try new paths or take risks. However, the 3 of Wands assures you that these decisions and changes will be fruitful, leading to personal growth and advancement in your life.

It is a card of future planning and forward thinking, encouraging proactive actions.

To read more about the 3 of Wands when making decisions, read our 3 of Wands: Yes or No article.

3 of Wands from Past to Present

The visual evolution of the 3 of Wands card throughout history has been informed by varying artistic perspectives, while consistently representing an element of foresight, discovery, and growth.

Early Depictions

Historically, the 3 of Wands initially emerged around 15th century within the Visconti-Sforza tarot deck, Italy’s oldest surviving tarot decks. Often referred to as the ‘Ship’ card, it significantly portrayed three staffs, with one man overlooking three sailing vessels in the background, embodying a sense of anticipation and planning.

The Rider-Waite Smith Interpretation

In contrast, the 3 of Wands in the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, conceptualised by Arthur Edward Waite and rendered by Pamela Colman Smith, opted for a simpler visual narrative. This depiction showcased a single individual standing on a hill, holding one wand and staring into the horizon, while two other wands were placed behind him. This visual evolution highlights elements of exploration, foresight, and expectation of success, coinciding with the deck’s release during Britain’s era of extensive exploration and colonization.

Present Day

Currently, modern tarot artists give unique contemporary spins to this card, allowing for a vast array of visual interpretations, yet always maintaining the core theme of anticipation, discovery, expansion, and foresight. Despite the artistic modifications over the years, the essence of the 3 of Wands remains remarkably consistent, denoting it as one of the most enduring images within the tarot. Its presence continually facilitates introspection on the prospect of growth beyond one’s immediate realm.

Synergistic Card Combinations

With the tarot, synergistic card combinations can tell intricate narratives. Understanding the dialogue between the cards helps to give context to readings. The 3 of Wands, which is an orientation towards discovery and outward projection, can portray various narratives depending on what other cards are drawn with it.

3 of Wands with The Fool

When paired with The Fool, the 3 of Wands emphasizes the aspect of new beginnings. Both cards are about exploration and adventure. The 3 of Wands speaks to ventures and opportunities awaiting you, while The Fool represents an unexpected leap of faith. Together, they can signify an exciting journey that will take courage and initiative, but promises growth and expansion. This combination usually means that it’s time to leap into the unknown and trust that the universe will guide you.

3 of Wands with Strength

The Strength card, when drawn with the 3 of Wands, reminds us that we have the inner power to face whatever comes our way. It fortifies the 3 of Wands’ energy of looking towards the horizon and embracing new ventures with bravery. This blends the confident pursuit of dreams from the 3 of Wands with the resilience and inner power of the Strength card. This strong synergy usually acts as an affirmation of your capabilities and strength to encounter and overcome any roadblocks on your path.

3 of Wands with Two of Cups

A combination of the 3 of Wands and Two of Cups points towards the realm of relationships. Here, the 3 of Wands depicts a journey or venture, likely emotional or romantic due to the Two of Cups. This blend speaks of the potential deepening or evolution of a relationship, possibly involving some form of significant journey together. This pairing could suggest the possibility of a relationship moving to the next level, perhaps through travel, moving in together, or a commitment of some sort.

Tarot readings, in essence, create a narrative formed by the synergistic interaction of different cards. Grasping the unique dialogs between the cards can enhance the depth and richness of the reading. In the case of the 3 of Wands, the adventure of exploration and anticipation of what’s to come becomes nuanced and richly layered when seen in combination with different cards.

Introspection & Meditation

Using the energy of the 3 of Wands during meditation can foster profound introspective experiences. In these meditative moments, contemplate over the idea of anticipation and foresight, important aspects that the 3 of Wands embodies.

Visualisation Meditation Technique

One effective way to incorporate the 3 of Wands in your meditation is through visualisation. Picture in your mind’s eye the image on the card, a solitary figure gazing into the horizon, with the three wands standing as strong support. Emulate this figure, imagine yourself on the same precipice, preparing for your journey ahead. The wands around you symbolize the foundational structures in your life that provide stability and support.

Journaling for Introspection

Record your meditative experiences in a journal. Such practice aids introspection and helps you reflect on future possibilities and new directions that are represented by the 3 of Wands. Writing also helps clarify your experiences, giving you greater insight into your contemplations and meditative visions.

Guided Reflections

Recite affirmations related to the 3 of Wands’ themes. Such verbal reminders of expansion, readiness, and exploration can reinforce your meditation. Examples include: “I am looking forward to a bright future” or “I am prepared to explore new opportunities.”

By incorporating the 3 of Wands into your meditation and introspective practices, you invite a wave of expectation and excitement for the future. It serves as a catalyst, encouraging personal growth and expanding your horizons.


The 3 of Wands Tarot card is symbolic of exploration, growth and forward-thinking. Covering aspects including its historical evolution, fundamental symbolism, interpretations in various life scenarios, synergistic card combinations and its depiction in meditation.

Extra emphasis is placed on the potential personal growth, introspection and self-discovery facilitated by this card, making it a valuable tool in the Tarot reader’s deck.

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Lauren holding a crystal ball in her hands.


Lauren Williams
Lauren merges ancient wisdom with modern insights, offering a fresh perspective on life's mysteries. She's passionate about guiding individuals through the world of astrology, lunar cycles, numerology, and tarot. When she's not charting the stars or reading tarot, she enjoys getting out in nature, hikes and yoga.