At the (right) Hand of God

Four Aces. Four hands. Four tools. Four elements. Two facing right, two facing left — at first glance, a perfect balance… But are they really? Is there an asymmetrical bias and what is the deeper underlying system to these four depictions of “God’s” hands?

Two hands face right, two hands face left; two palms are closed and facing laterally, two are open and facing upward… But, they are ALL right hands! Knowing this provides a key to interpreting the gestures, and the subtlety of their differences.

Upward-facing, open palms are receptive. This is the gesture of receiving, and it can also mean generosity and welcome (hang on to that idea for part 2). In the WST and (most of) its derivatives, these upward-facing, receptive palms are the hands that hold the Ace of Cups and the Ace of Coins (Pentacles). But, they face different directions, which at first glance can appear as though one is right and one is left. Closer scrutiny will reveal, however, that they are both right hands: hold your right hand up and turn the tips to the right — the thumb will face you; then turn the tips to the left and the pinkie will face you.

Two right hands, facing different directions:


Although both palms face upward, the thumb direction is also important. For an outside observer to see my right hand with the thumb toward the observer, as in the coins/pentacles, my hand is turned IN to my body, a closed, protective gesture (apropos to Earth), and for the observer to see the outer part of my hand, thumb away from the observer, I have to open my arms in a more emotionally vulnerable gesture (apropos of Water).

Also, in the more protected gesture seen on the Ace of Coins, it is more a gesture of taking, or of pulling inward, whereas the open gesture on the Ace of Cups is more giving or pressing outward. Both are open, welcoming gestures, but there is some nuance to their degree, or the direction.

In the Wands and Swords’ hands, the hand is closed and the palm facing — rather than upward — a more active gesture to begin with. However, the same open-body/closed-body language gesture is at play here: the Wand is an offering, opening away from the torso; the Sword is more a defense, closing toward the body from the viewer’s perspective.


If a tennis player came asking about his/her game and the Ace of Wands came up, I’d suggest working on their forehand, and if the Ace of Swords, they should work on their backhand!

So, these two hands also connote giving and taking, collecting and offering. The Ace of Wands is giving or offering, and the Ace of Swords is taking or collecting: open and vulnerable, moving outward; closed and defensive, moving inward. Isn’t that the difference between Fire and Air, between Action and Thought?

But the point remains, they are both the SAME hand: right.

The hand that giveth also taketh away 😉

But if all these depict God’s right hand, my real question is:

What the heck is the left doing?


Part 2 soon, looking at more right hands…

your perspective | reflective

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s