As a reminder, the suit of wands is driven by masculine energy and usually represents willpower, change, and an impulse to create and make something new. Scholars and academics have connected the suit of wands to the classical element of fire, and most of the cards from that suit embody the symbolic attributes of this element, one way or another.
Eight of Wands: Traditional meanings
Swift movement, a sense of purpose and action, the eight of wands embodies the ever-increasing speed that we experience in the modern world. When you go with the flow, everything seems to fit in perfectly, and everything goes right. But whenever you try to swim against the tide and encounter the reversed meaning of the Eight of Wands, you are bound to be losing a lot of time and energy in your struggles.
Upright: Movement, speed, communication, traveling, and swiftness.
Reversed: Delays, frustration, going against the flow, inner conflict, and domestic disputes.
Upright Eight of Wands
This is one of the few minor arcana cards without a human character present on the illustration (at least in the Rider Waite Smith tarot deck, though some modern fully illustrated decks have decided to include one).
The eight wands are displayed on the card in parallel, with a slight downward angle, as if they were javelins thrown in unison from the distance and about to hit the ground. Even without any human presence, there is an undeniable sense of motion radiating from this minor arcana illustration, probably strengthened by the simplicity of the design choice.
The obvious feeling of movement perceived when looking at the minor arcana illustration is the perfect embodiment of the eight of wands meaning. A sort of narrower interpretation of the chariot major arcana, this card deals with movement and motion both literally and figuratively.
The nuance brought by the eight of wand meaning is one of speed. This change of state or location from one spot to the next is performed swiftly and efficiently, without delay or obstacle. Combined with other cards in the reading, it can provide a sense of urgency or imminence to other aspects highlighted in the suit of Wands in the tarot spread.
On a more figurative level, the eight of wands tarot card also represents communication and sent messages (particularly relevant in the age of information, where electronic messages can be sent even more swiftly than the perceived speed of the javelins on the illustration), and the rhetorical movement between cause and effect, illustrating the consequences of a specific action and putting it under the spotlight.
Reversed Eight of Wands
When the eight of Wands appears reversed in a tarot reading, the notion of movement is still there but this time acts as an obstacle that must be overcome. Usually, when this minor arcana appears, it symbolizes a feeling of swimming against the tide, fighting the current. The usual result of such a behavior is a source of chaos, frustration, and potential delays in your planned schedule.
When context refers to more intellectual or spiritual matters, it might be a sign of internal dispute or inner struggle between conflicting ideas that cannot seem to fit together. Other cards in the reading might offer some clue toward a potential resolution of this inner conflict, though there usually be a price to pay or a sacrifice of some kind to make.
Eight of Wands and love
When the eight of Wands appears in a love reading or a love-based spread, it is a rather positive sign highlighting smoothly flowing communication within the couple. It means that the Querent and their loved one are mostly on the same wavelength, sharing goals and projects together.
When physically separated, it can also show how communication flows between them and keeps their strong ties alive in spite of the distance.
A reversed eight of wands conversely shows a broken pattern of communication, leading to more and more arguments and disputes about matters both important and futile. Indeed, the reversed eight of wands tells us that these disputes are not caused by the various pretexts found to trigger them, no matter how serious, but by a faulty communication between loved ones that must be dealt with in priority because dealing with the motives brought forth in the disputes will not solve the root cause of the recurring problem.