The 7 of Wands shows Petruchio from Taming of the Shrew, Act III Scene 2, particularly the mis-matched footwear drawn so clearly on the card.
It signifies a war of words, fighting to protect your value or bring someone down .
You may be surprised to know that this is the first time – here, on this page – this source has been been revealed, despite a century of people guessing about the card in hundreds of books and thousands of websites.
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Pamela took her experience of theatre in 1909 to best choose a character & scene which really captured the complex ideas of the Book T description used by the Order of the Golden Dawn which reads …
… Possible victory, depending on the energy and courage exercised; valour; opposition, obstacles and difficulties, yet courage to meet them; quarrelling, ignorance, pretence, and wrangling, and threatening; also victory in small and unimportant things: and influence upon subordinates.
The scene where Petruchio is dressed in mismatching footwear clearly describes him protecting his reluctant bride-to-be in a contrived show of valour. It is all part of turning up at the wedding so badly dressed and over-the-top that he can control her in the relationship.
You will see in our illustration above, a well-known actor of Pamela’s time, Oscar Asche, dressed as Petruchio with exactly the same mis-matching footwear. This was certainly deliberate on Pamela’s part and not accidental.
It gives the card a revised negative spin, in that Pamela was showing that the card may be indicating someone who is manipulating a situation with a war of words.
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Learn More about the meanings of this card in everyday readings in Secrets of the Waite-Smith Tarot and over at our free sister-site, My Tarot Card Meanings where you can also download a free guide to card meanings and spreads, Keys to the Tarot by Andrea Green.