The Five of Wands is an unnerving portent of struggles, battles, and fierce rivalry.
When this card appears one can be certain that interpersonal frictions, ego struggles, and potential love triangles are on the horizon. These situations can manifest in unsightly altercations, one-upmanship, or more benignly, a playful fight for the attentions of an object of infatuation.
The Five of Wands signifies the beginning of a conflict and battle of wills but is distinctly silent with respect to the outcome and eventual victor. It can be seen as an exhortation to the querent to extend beyond their current limits and strive for excellence. Alternatively it can be a warning to focus on one's own projects and to not let envy of others interfere with personal goals.
In the Rider Waite deck a fiery battle scene is depicted and each combatant appears to wield their wand in a seemingly chaotic and haphazard manner, thus indicating conflicts of direction and approaches. Moreover there does not seem to be clearly defined sides competing against one another, suggesting that this is a group of rogue mercenary combatants each with their own agendas and interests.
In a love reading the Five of Wands suggests having to battle for your partner or person of interest's attention. This may be because a third party has inserted themselves into the situation or that your love interest is already taken. The Five of Wands frequently appears when one querent is attempting to "win over" their object of affection who is currently spoken for. It can also signify a battle of egos and one-upmanship which has the tendency to quickly turn into an unhealthy dynamic. Therefore, when this card appears in a reading, be on your guard for love rivals and dysfunctional relating habits.
In a work or career reading the Five of Wands represents fierce, unrelenting competition. If you have become complacent and satisfied that there is no one who can improve upon what you have achieved, you are being given the stark message that this is not the case. Not only is your position in danger, those who seek to terminate your reign have persistence and skill in abundance. If you have colleagues whom you consider friends, you are advised to adopt a detached attitude towards them, because they may in fact be looking for an opportunity to either take your position or take credit for your ideas and hard work.
Positive Aspects: friendly rivalry, chance to extend one's limits, sportsmanship
Negative Aspects: love rivals, fierce competition, arguments, ego battles, one-upmanship, fight for affection, envy