Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Nines Have It

The Nines in the Tarot are somewhat unique, as they represent both accomplishment and movement. The corresponding Major Arcana card is the Hermit, telling of accomplishment, reflection and also desire for something deeper. Having come all this way, past the foundation of the Eights, we're at a place of completion, ready to move towards something new. The Nines can be cards of reflecting back on what has come, and with that, reflecting forwards on what we can continue to do. To reference the Hermit again, he carries a lantern and a staff- one symbolic of illumination of the way ahead, through his experience, knowledge and understanding, and the other symbolic of his dominion, earned through his efforts and insights into the world and the path he's on.
Again, considering each Nine individually, let's begin with the Nine of Wands-
This image comes from the Legacy of the Divine Tarot, and bears a sense of heaviness and weight. It looks like this figure has been working hard, and building up a defensive position with the wands behind him, and is pretty worn out because of that. The message of this card is accomplishment and security- having worked to secure a position, it's now time to rest a little. It doesn't matter how tough you are, everyone needs a rest once in a while, and this card is a message to take that break. If there are renewed challenges ahead, don't go charging right into them- better to put up a solid front than to go into it tired and weakened. This card is also a message of knowing limitations- perhaps even asking for help. Being a Wands card, there's a tendency to want to press on, to exert our will over the situation. However the card also tells us that there needs to be a balance. And this is the negative aspect of the card- not allowing adequate time for rest, and not allowing for help from others. Sometimes, the wiser plan of action is not to press forwards, but rather to wait.
Next, we have the Nine of Swords. Here is a similar message of insight and thinking, though the focus is different.
This rendering comes from the Vampire Tarot, and shows how the mind (here symbolized by the vampire) can conjure up all kinds of horrible scenarios, and can drive itself to anxiety. The message of the Nine of Swords is that it's time for a reality check- don't get so lost in your own mind that you miss what's really going on. The mind feeds on itself, and the mind creates its own fears, in some cases. So the solution here is to use that logical mind- look at the situation objectively, see what really is happening, and what is instead the product of our own imagination. The negative aspect of this card is precisely that opposite- being unable to draw that distinction between reality and imagination, and swinging at phantoms when giants are waiting.
The next card is the Nine of Cups- here is a more positive message, although also along the same lines.
Here is the 9 of Cups from the Gilded Tarot, showing a person, possibly a brewer or saloon owner, with the fruits of his labor, so to speak. The message here would put us in the position of walking through the door to this saloon, and meeting this man. He's in a good mood, perhaps having tasted the wine or beer or whatever it is, and found that it's been a good year indeed! Time to grab a bar stool and toast his success! The man is no doubt thinking about all the profits he'll make, and how his reputation will spread. This card tells of success, and happiness, perhaps coming as a result of long hard work. But nonetheless, the time has come to enjoy it. This is often a card of celebration and reward. But at the same time, there remains that sense of looking back over all that's come before- a good head on our shoulders will allow for a moderate enjoyment of the good head on the beer. (Okay, that was lame, I admit.) But the message is, enjoy with moderation, and enjoy with common sense, so that you don't overindulge or act impulsively. Moderation, and the knowledge of how that moderation works, is the key to understanding this card. In its negative sense, the card tells of not having that moderation- either not experiencing or not remembering the lessons life has taught you, and though overindulgence can also teach those lessons, it's sometimes easier to take another's word for it who has already been there.
Finally, the 9 of Pentacles- also a card of enjoyment, of having worked hard, now enjoying the products and end results of that hard work.
Here we have the Druidcraft Tarot's take on the Nine. I've always wondered why a falcon always appears on this card, and realized that it's also the falcon's handler that factors into this. Though there's a pleasant garden, and in this case, a stone wall, indicating security and being built up and safe, there's also a message here of a need to understand, to work with what's around us. So what does that have to do with a falcon? Well, I understand they have very sharp claws and beaks, and are trained to go track down prey- a person must understand what this falcon is capable of doing to be safe with it. So it is with the Nine- though there's abundance and bounty, we need to maintain a degree of objectivity- the Nine is not the end result, neither are the Tens. Though these represent accomplishment and completion, life moves in cycles. We move forwards and upwards, and what has come before has shown us the way to what comes next. Again, the negative aspect of this card is that this bounty and wealth can turn against us, and control our lives.
So in the Nines, we see a generally positive message. Here we have things working out, and perhaps even a deeper level of understanding. Yet with this understanding, as in the Eights, we have the choice to remain where we are or move forwards still further.

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