Doctor, my eyes —
Tell me what is wrong.
Was I unwise to leave them open for so long?
Jackson Browne, Doctor My Eyes
Have you, like me, tuned into the news each morning, wondering what fresh crisis has hit the fan overnight? Our card of the week, the Nine of Wands, seems to reflect that exact kind of world weariness.
In the Tarot, the Nines traditionally are the culmination of the suit and show how the stories inherent in the suit climax and end.
The Wands are the suit of Fire, action, passion, and power. They contain the energy of desire, sexuality, and creativity, which, in the right measure, are life-affirming and joyful. But too much of this good thing can leave us, like this figure, bruised and battered, even if we are still standing.
His defensive posture and his wary expression as he looks over his shoulder speak of his expectation that the struggle may only have paused, and not yet be over. His bandaged head hints to us that his wounds may be as mental as they are physical.
For although his Wand allies are lined up behind him, and he has won the day, his expression is that of someone who fully expects more battles yet to come.
As we can also see, this is another example of Pamela Colman Smith, the R-W-S deck’s artist, placing the main figure of the card on what appears to be a theater stage. Behind him, the Wands even resemble a curtain.
Is it possible that this is a drama enacted for our benefit, rather than a literal truth?
The Glorious, Never-ending Fight
Sometimes, when we have had to struggle and even suffer for the things we desire, we find it difficult to give up the conflict, even after our goals are achieved. Because of past experiences with loss and conflict, we may continue to expect “the other shoe to drop.”
There is no peace in this card, only a temporary breather of some kind. There is no disarmament, and no victory that signals a conclusion to the hostilities.
It is illuminating that we use metaphors of warfare for almost everything: battling disease, the ticking time bomb of climate change, or being “under fire” when criticized. In recent years, we’ve been “at war” with drugs, cancer, various economic classes, terrorism, and poverty, just to name a few.
We say that someone who is very attractive is a “bombshell” or that someone dropped a “bombshell” when they make a surprising announcement.
The list goes on and on. Being on edge in a culture that expects us to be on all the time, and armed for battle, is considered normal.
How much sacrifice of time, privacy, and peace of mind is too much? Is fighting really glorious? Is the model of conquest for survival even accurate?
I love that there are people like media magnate Arianna Huffington, who are attempting to redefine success, especially “the collective delusion that burnout is the way to succeed.”
Although, as the saying goes, “Nature is red in tooth and claw,” it is also true that successful survival of many species depends, not on conflict or dominance, but on cooperation and synergetic harmony. What if we invested less in the old “us against the world” paradigm portrayed in this card, and instead built our future on more collaborative, supportive values?
Astro Changes Ahead
On Wednesday this week, Mercury changes signs from chatty Gemini, which he rules, to emotional Cancer.
Sometimes, Gemini’s eternal quest for knowledge can lead to superficiality and confusion. This card’s wounded warrior may have learned such lessons the hard way, and is weary of the overload.
Thus, with Mercury under Cancer’s influence, we may hope to see more conversations rooted in discernment and empathy, that can potentially nurture deeper understanding.
The same day, Mars stations direct. The planet of war and “me, me, me” has been in retrograde since late April, and simmering in the sign of Scorpio since May 27. This has put the kibosh on many plans, and led to passive-aggressive dramas and frustrations that may be ready to explode.
But the gift of Mars retro is that we may be forced to reassess our priorities before successfully charging ahead towards what we think we want. Sometimes these delays are blessings in disguise.
As Mars turns direct, and our card gives us pause, we have a final opportunity to stop and consider more carefully where we are going.
What If You Close Your Eyes for a Little While?
Summer is calling those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s vacation time for many, and off we go, hoping to tune out, at least for a little while, the growing rumblings of violence, injustice, and chaos.
But from our living rooms, to hotel lobbies, airports and train stations, doctors’ offices, grocery stores, bars, and restaurants – the reports of venomous politics, scandals, environmental disasters, and the crumbling world economies press upon us without cease.
How might you take this time to step back, reduce the stress, and refresh your vitality and creativity? What if you took a media break?
What ending would you welcome? Is it true that you must always be vigilant and never lower your guard? What intermission would do you a world of good?
What needs to happen, so you can rest more easily and recharge your batteries for more active times that certainly lie ahead? Are you bearing wounds that need time for healing?
What alternative ending to this suit’s story of Fire, change, magic, and passion would you prefer to create? Now is the opportunity to do so.
With this card’s blessings, let us find ways to make a just and lasting peace, both within and without. For in the days yet to come, we will surely need it.