Gratitude is a two-fold love – love coming to visit us, and love running out to greet a welcome guest.
Henry Van Dyke
After last week’s visit from the King, we now welcome the suit’s guardian of intuitive, emotional gratification. During this waxing Moon week, say hello to the Nine of Cups.
As I have pointed out in the past, nine is a very magical number in many traditions. Of all the single digit numbers, it may be the most profound. Composed of three trinities (3 times 3), it represents the principles of the sacred Triad taken to their utmost expression.
And in the base 10 system, where all numbers are represented by ten distinct forms (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9), nine is the final number.
As such, it becomes a limit, a boundary, or the ultimate attainment. It is a threshold number that is strongly associated with creativity, completion, and fate. It is also frequently connected with leadership, initiation, and the Mysteries.
And in the Tarot, the Cups are about the dreams, love, intuitive knowing, and the heart’s wisdom that we all feel. So the Nine of Cups speaks of emotional satisfaction, perhaps a dream fulfilled.
In the R-W-S Tarot, we have a fairly straightforward image, with little embellishment. The Nine of Cups features a rather ample man, sitting in front of a banquet table, which is lined with nine cups. His arms are crossed (in what is clearly yet another leminscate shape), and he smiles straight at us.
Arthur Waite describes him as “a goodly personage” who has “feasted to his heart’s content, and abundant refreshment of wine is on the arched counter behind him, seeming to indicate that the future is also assured.”
I used to go along with one popular view that he was too smug with himself for his own good, therefore adding a cautionary undercurrent to this card.
But over the years, I have come to be rather fond of this cheerful fellow, and am glad when he comes visiting. For he is not so much about material abundance or overindulgence. Instead, as a representative of Cups, he seems ready to address our truest longings, if we will but ask.
Besides, I always wonder what may be under that big, long tablecloth. For if the Nines are symbolic of life’s Mysteries, what potentials may dwell there, just beyond our sight?
The curved shape of the tabletop seems a foreshadowing of the Ten of Cups’ rainbow (shown on the left).
But in the Ten, the Cups arch across the sky, and in the Nine, they are sitting firmly on the table, within our human reach.
The Heart’s Desire
In the Northern Hemisphere, the peak of Summer ripeness glistens all around us and the first harvest celebrations are only a few weeks away. Now we are busy gathering in Gaia’s extravagant, loving bounty.
We know dark days and long cold nights lie ahead, but they seem very far away. Now is the time for growing, sharing, and reveling in the deep pleasures of Life’s fruitfulness.
The Nine of Cups is traditionally known as the Wishing Card. During this time that is so obviously not about scarcity, but is instead when Nature is overflowing, we are encouraged to make a wish. Or two. Or nine!
This week, we can hope for concord and the celebration of a happy future. The Nine of Cups is also frequently associated with a joyful childbirth.
What is your heart’s desire? “Where intention goes, energy flows,” according to the old magical saying. Love, intuition, and healing are available in lush, benevolent ways. Who or what offers you deep contentment and the realization of your spirit’s longings?
Of course as I have noted many times, every Tarot card has aspects of light and shadow. So, yes, this portly gentleman may indeed be smirking at us, after all. Thus we must beware of intemperance or excess.
Still, as the conclusion of what the Cups suit is capable of (with Tens being the overflow, pointing to a new cycle), I believe that for the most part, we are welcome to accept his gifts as motivated by kindness and generosity.
Heaven knows we need them.
Just remember to share your happiness and good fortune, for you yourself are like the man sitting before the table — a gatekeeper for others who are seeking their heart’s fulfillment. How can you help their sweetest, most loving wishes come true?
With gratitude may love come to visit us, and in turn, may love recognize and greet us, as the beloved guest.