What Does the Symbol for a Spade Mean?

The spade is a symbol of knowledge, hard work, and acceptance. It is also a leaf on the cosmic tree, which stands for life. It represents the earth in terms of the four elements. When paired with clubs, the spade represents fall, winter, and the power of the dark. In the tarot, the spade card stands for death, action, air, and intelligence.

During World War II, the spade was a sign of good luck for the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment and the 101st American Airborne Division. The spade marking also helped identify these regiments within the airborne division. Dots or dashes in different places helped identify the battalions within the regiments.

During the Vietnam War, soldiers wore the spade as a symbol of death and bad luck to scare away Viet Cong soldiers. The goal was to make the soldiers run away without having to fight.

Soldiers were known to leave an ace of spades card on the body of a dead Viet Cong soldier and scatter the cards around battlegrounds to scare the enemy. Because this happened so often, the United States Playing Card Company only made ace of spade cards to send abroad.

Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.


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