In a reading, the Three of Wands often indicates new experiences; but those that do not necessarily come about at the expense of our present situation. In the card, the figure looks out at his boats either sailing away or returning - either way, he, himself, has stayed behind. This frequently relates to situations where we might retain a commitment to things or people in our current life, while simultaneously seeking new connections or opportunities. For example, we do not need to sacrifice our most trusted friends in order to find other people with whom we resonate; we do not need to give up a job we love to also take a distance learning course in a subject we are passionate about.
Sometimes, in a reading, the card can speak especially to people who may be struggling to come to terms with past events in their lives. Where this is the case, the Three of Wands offers assurances that peace is attainable, and counsels us to see these past events as being like the boats on the sea depicted in the card, sailing away from us while we remain safely on solid ground.
When the Three of Wands appears from the deck reversed, it can mean that the new experiences or opportunities that we had hoped were coming our way have stalled, or floundered. They are not lost at sea, but, perhaps, have a more difficult crossing ahead of them than we had anticipated. The reversed card can also mean coming out of a period of isolation and contemplation to rejoin the world. Finally, the Three of Wands reversed can suggest that challenging memories of the past are still very much affecting our current lives and states of mind and, in this case, seeking support and guidance, perhaps counseling, to resolve this could be a very beneficial move.
The Twos of each suit represent the most mature manifestation of their element: in this case, the fire of Wands has not dimmed but has found a stable expression. The light of the setting sun, painting the waters in the card the color of flames, adds emphasis to this: fire has merged with water to create an unexpectedly beautiful whole.