There is no grief like the grief that does not speak.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Like a rather unwelcome, but all-too-familiar guest, the Nine of Swords comes calling this week of beautiful Beltane.
(And, yes, I admit, besides the fact that I am traveling, this is why I maybe procrastinated a little on posting it. But the Tarot does not lie or pull its punches).
Nines are the cards that complete the energies of the suits, and bring the cycle to its conclusion. (Tens are transitional cards of “overflow,” which point towards the renewal or next phase).
And of course, Swords are the suit of the mind, communication, memory, intellect, attitude, and perception. Therefore, we see that the Swords, so full of difficulty, are completed as lonely sorrow.
The carving on the bed shows some kind of conflict, where one figure is defeated, awaiting the final blow. On the blanket, we see roses – symbol of love and passion – interwoven with the signs of the zodiac, which points to the inclusion of others.
This is also one of the few Tarot cards in the Waite-Smith deck in which the central figure is of uncertain gender – pointing to the universal nature of this situation.
Darkness, Darkness – Long and Lonesome
Obviously a card of grief, the Nine of Swords may depict the burdens we sometimes feel we must bear alone, and which rise before us in our dark hours. This card often speaks to our suffering on behalf of those we love, not just our own pain or fear.
Perhaps the person shown has had a terrible premonition in her or his dreams. Perhaps s/he feels regret, guilt or doubt concerning a loved one. Or perhaps it is the intimate experience of life’s loneliness and isolation.
Increasingly, it seems that many of us are experiencing difficulties with our sleep. I have struggled with this myself, especially post-treatment. It is a part of my new normal, I suppose, but it sucks,
Typically, the problem is not with falling asleep; it’s what one client of mine calls the “3 a.m. Club.” She describes popping wide awake around 3 in the morning, mind racing.
From what I can tell, she certainly has plenty of company. Ranging from simply hyper-busy thoughts to actual anxieties and nameless melancholy, the intensity usually dispels by morning. Only to return the next night.
I believe that those of us who are intuitively open are being impacted profoundly by the enormous changes now occurring around us.
For people who are psychically sensitive, how can we not be profoundly aware in our deep consciousness of the heartbreak, not only in the lives of those in our private spheres, but on a global basis?
Hunger. Filthy water (until it is sold back to the people whose land it is being stolen from). Those stricken by war; environmental destruction; the injustice, greed, and lies that are corrupting our political systems; the normalizing of racism and hatred; the squeezing of the economy.
Here, too, is a portrait of the suffering in the night, endured by those who have been sexually abused or preyed upon, especially by seemingly untouchable celebrities and other men in power.
You know it. I know it. No wonder we might be having trouble sleeping.
The Nine of Swords, as unhappy as it is, is a demand to get real.
Facing Our Shadows
If you are sensitive to the cries of the world, the first step is to acknowledge and understand that this is so. And, despite the fact that it is often painful, let us realize it is a gift to still feel in a world so seemingly intent on denial, distraction, and numbness.
Perhaps it is time to name and acknowledge the shadow that haunts you in the night. What troubling news have you received, or do you perhaps dread to hear? What insistently calls to you in your dreams, though you may wish it would not? What wrong needs to be put right?
The resolution can sometimes be found in taking remedial action (Wands). Shifting our focus to our blessings can bring hopefulness and healing (Pentacles). Or it may be that we simply need to allow ourselves to feel and accept what we are going through (Cups), rather than hiding behind our daytime game face.
In so doing, we may well discover we are not as alone in our silent suffering as we thought.
There is great love behind this disturbing image – and therefore, there is hope. When worry troubles us, when loneliness or dark thoughts enter our dreams, remember that such times come to all of us.
By sharing, we open the way, so that others need not continue to suffer in silence.
And while not pleasant, the Nine of Swords can be a call, summoning us to deepen our compassion for ourselves, and for all beings.