Burnout…occurs because we’re trying to solve the same problem over and over.
Susan Scott, author and leadership development architect
Have you, like me, tuned into the news each morning, wondering what fresh disaster has hit the fan overnight? Our card of the week, the Nine of Wands, seems to reflect that exact kind of overwhelm.
In the Tarot, the Nines traditionally are the culmination of the suit and show how the stories inherent in the suit may be resolved. (The Tens are the overflow of the suit, often pointing to a new cycle’s start).
In the Wands, the suit of Fire, action, the life force, passion, and power, we can see that this figure has fought his way through difficulty, and bears the scars of his struggle. He is bruised, but not defeated.
Yet his defensive posture and his wary expression as he looks over his shoulder speak of his expectation that the fight may only have paused, and not yet be over. His bandaged head hints to us that his wounds may be as emotional 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.
This is the final result of unchecked Wands action: burnout, and the inability to settle.
Besides, if he is no longer engaged in the dynamic friction and changes of the Wands, who is he?
And as we can see, this is yet another example of Pamela Colman Smith’s “stage cards.”
“Pixie” Smith, the R-W-S deck artist whose other passions revolved around London’s theater and literary scene, created about 13 cards in her deck featuring the main figure of the card in front of paired horizontal lines. This creates the subtle sense that we are seeing a story playing out on a theater stage.
Behind our wounded warrior, the Wands even resemble a curtain. Is it possible that this is a drama enacted for our benefit, rather than a literal truth?
Are these the Eight wands that were previously in flight, now aligned and grounded?
They are usually considered the arrows of success. So why is our figure in the Nine so unhappy?
No Rest for the Weary
Sometimes, when we have had to compete and even suffer for the things we desire, we find it difficult to give up the battle, even after our goals are achieved. Because of past experiences, we continue to expect “the other shoe to drop.”
There is no peace here, no disarmament, and no victory that brings satisfaction. We keep trying to solve the same problems over and over — even if they no longer exist.
And if they do not, then perhaps we decide on some level to re-invent them.
This is how civilizations perpetrate the idea that we must always be in a constant state of warfare. This is how those in power make our identity dependent on having an enemy to fight. How can we be the good guys if there are no bad guys lurking, waiting to strike?
Just as soon as one war begins to subside, another magically comes along to supersede it. Coincidence?
What might we do instead with our ever-restless Fire that does not contribute to conflict, but instead can move forward and provide a more creative outlet? This figure does not know.
Taking a Time Out
Having now fully begun the Yuletide Advent season, we look forward to the birth of the Light.
We make plans to take a breather, maybe travel on a holiday vacation, focus on friends and family, and enjoy merrier days with one another. We long for our ancient celebrations that offer a pause, at least for a little while, from the news of violence, injustice, and chaos.
But from our living rooms, hotel lobbies, airports and train stations, doctors’ offices, grocery stores, bars, and restaurants – the reports of venomous politics, scandals, lies, disasters, and even the shadow of nuclear holocaust press in upon us more relentlessly than ever before.
Whether you are recovering from combat and war, or one of this year’s many natural disasters, a life-threatening illness, or just the constant detonation of ever more disastrous news stories, many of us, especially we who are empaths, are struggling to some degree with hypervigilance and spiritual trauma.
Just like the exhausted, anxious figure in the Nine of Wands.
Now, with the help of Mercury retrograde, we are offered (perhaps forced to take!) a 3-week period to reflect, review, and cease our incessant achieving.
The Nine of Wands acknowledges that many of us feel pretty beaten up. So it urges us to take this sacred time of endarkenment to step back, reduce the stress, and refresh our vitality and creativity.
For instance, what if you took a media break (except for checking in here, of course!).
What endings would you welcome? Is it true that you must always be on guard?
When will you know if your own private wars are over, or even how to end them? What intermission might do you a world of good?
As the quiet of Winter beckons (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere), what needs to happen, so that you can rest more easily and recharge your batteries?
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.