Reflections on The Nine of Wands

Q: What should I be mindful of in my dealings today?

A: This.IX

As we’ve discussed previously, the Nines of the Minor Arcana each depict a solitary figure surrounded or enclosed by the element that governs the suit: A wall of staves, a tableful of cups, a phalanx of swords, a hedgerow of coins. In that regard, they remind us of the need, at times, to spend a season by ourselves in a “lonely place apart”: To pray, to meditate and to reflect upon our lives, our accomplishments and our discontents. This “impulse to introversion,” however, does not come naturally to the outward-looking mind- and ego-driven suits of Wands and Swords, and this is why the scenes depicted in the Nines of those suits seem so troubling: the sleepless mourner of the Nine of Swords trapped in an interminable nightmare of her own making, and here in the Nine of Wands, in the figure of the “wounded warrior” standing guard at the parapet, ever vigilant against an enemy that appears to exist only in his own mind. When this card appears in a reading, then, it can speak to some feelings of defensiveness or apprehension within ourselves that is inhibiting us from addressing our fears or anxieties: it’s so much easier, after all, to wall ourselves off from our feelings than to own up to them and deal with them! It’s safe and secure living within the walls of a fortress as our wounded sentry does, but it is a lonely existence, and as long as we choose to live in a state of separation over reconciliation, we can never be truly made whole as loving spiritual beings.

By contrast, when reversed the Nine of Wands can suggest a state of denial in the mind of the querent—a refusal to acknowledge a reality that actually does threatens him. What the source of that denial might be, specifically, may be implied by the surrounding cards. The presence of Swords, for instance, could suggest the need for anger-management counseling. Near Cups, it could suggest an unhealthy emotional state, particularly in the realm of marriage or romance. Near other Wands, it could signify an unhappy work situation. With Pentacles, it could mean that the querent is living beyond her means, or perhaps needs to deal with sickness or substance abuse. The Nine of Wands, as with all of the Nines, reminds us that solitude and introspection are parts of the psychic individuation process, but they are not quite the end point on our journey of self-actualization. They are both necessary components of it, however, and that is easy to forget amid the bustle and churn of our goal-obsessed earthly lives.

Dante DiMatteo

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