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.
Five of Wands: Traditional meanings
The five of wands is a usually negative card among the minor arcana. Representing some kind of violent altercation between several people (not necessarily physically), it can be seen as a subconscious agent of change, or a way to destroy what has come before and built something better and new.
Surrounded with positive cards it might simply refer to a friendly competition like a lip-sync battle or any kind of sporting event.
Upright: Conflict, Argument, Competition, and Poop leadership.
Reversed: Violent argument, resentment, fighting, and trouble-making.
Upright Five of Wands meaning
In the Rider Waite Smith deck, there are five men fighting on the image of the five of wands. These men each hold a wand like a staff or bludgeoning weapon as they try to strike one another. Some recent decks have somehow twisted that imagery into a work of collaboration between these men, but such an interpretation would contradict the traditional meaning of the five of wands.
It should be noted, however, that the men are fighting with what amounts to wooden sticks instead of swords or more serious weapons, which tends to imply that this is either some sort of deliberate training (like martial artists or boxers) or some kind of sports exercise.
To be honest, there are not many positive elements to be found in the five of wands minor arcana. This is a negative and sometimes violent card, a sign of struggle and conflict between several people. Usually, this conflict was caused by opposing tempers or reactions, each side made bolder by the energy of the element of fire held within tarot of the suit of wands.
What is positive though, when the card appears on the right side in a spread, is that it usually means that the conflict should have no lasting effects on the relationship of the people involved. This struggle could also represent a friendly competition between friends or colleagues, or if it is connected to more physical cards it could represent some kind of sports event or competition.
Reversed Five of Wands meaning
When the five of wands is reversed or enhanced by other negative cards in close vicinity, there is no escaping the negative consequences of the argument or struggle. Fire element ensures that tempers and ego will flare, and all sides of the argument are likely to stand their ground and refuse to back down, even if they were to realize that they were wrong halfway through.
The five of wands reversed could also suggest the presence of a bully or a “troll”, deliberately stirring trouble for personal reasons (or for no reason at all). This card is deeply connected to anger and resentment, especially when it is misplaced of built on empty causes.
Five of Wands and love
This is one of the cards you might prefer never to see brought up or drawn during a love tarot reading. Indeed, in that context, it heralds a serious, upcoming argument with your significant other (or at the very least someone in your family that you deeply care for).
While some arguments can have a positive outcome overall, allowing two or more people to set down their arms and redefine the limits of their relationship together, as long as no extreme boundaries or limits are crossed during the argument.
A simple way out of such a conundrum, especially in a long-lasting relationship, is simply to agree to disagree on a certain touchy subject when it becomes obvious that both parties have no intention of losing any ground.