Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending—to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened. And I will choose how the story ends.
Having visited us often in the past, it is interesting that this card last appeared this year at Beltane, and then at Lughnasadh. Now, in this week that births the final Moon of the dying year, surrounded by the deepening darkness before Winter Solstice (in the Northern Hemisphere), the tenacious wisdom of the Nine of Wands returns.
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 apparently 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 relax.
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 talents 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?
In that card, 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 strife and 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, so that we do not contribute to cultures based on endless conflict? How can we, one by one, move our world forward by embracing a more creative outlet? This figure does not know.
Seasonal Survival Strategies
Whether you are protecting freedom and justice, handling challenges in your work, creative endeavors, and relationships, or just trying to get through the holiday season with your sanity and finances intact, our card affirms that we have been willing to lay ourselves on the line. We may have even suffered for what we feel passionately about.
Yet when exhaustion threatens, it can make even the simplest tasks more complicated.
Compounding such complications, we have been under the influence of a Mercury retrograde period since Nov. 16. This Thursday, the planet that rules communication, technology, travel, and business endeavors will be slowing to a stop before appearing to slowly move forward in its “normal” orbit again. (This is just how it looks from our vantage point on Earth. The planets do not actually slow down or go backwards in their orbits).
While a Merc retro period can thwart our progress, it always offers a gift in exchange: a time to slow down, reflect, and reconsider our priorities. Have you been able to take advantage of this?
You have a few more days this week to catch your breath in this way.
In addition, this week we celebrate the New Moon of Sagittarius. Our faithful interpreter at Cafe Astrology, Annie Heese, tells us:
It’s a time when we can focus on some of the constructive traits of the sign of the Archer – optimistic, enthusiastic, adventurous, honest, outspoken, independent – and consider how to positively incorporate these qualities into our lives.
Now, we can focus on goals that will increase our understanding and awareness, give us the courage to expand our horizons, and gain confidence and optimism from a broader perspective.
We can too easily get lost in the details of mundane existence. With this potent Sagittarius energy, we can find ways to transcend these details of day-to-day life and nurture our faith, hope, and vision.
Is this New Moon in the dark of the year the beginning of an ending? The end of the beginning? Or the beginning of a new beginning?
The Nine of Wands, focusing as it does on fiery concerns like passion, creativity, energy, growth, change, and magic, would suggest that you might examine the element of Fire as it intertwines with these influences.
Lastly, as you and I are (sometimes painfully) aware, our culture pushes hard against this season of encroaching darkness, as we move towards the longest night of the year (at Winter Solstice). But this fear and fight against the quiet dark is antithetical to the rhythms of the natural world.
Why not savor Nature’s gifts of this threshold time? Grant the endings that have arrived and let this time of endarkenment heal your wounds of body and spirit. Heaven knows, we have all fought the Good Fight this year. Now, we might be allowed a moment to .. just.. STOP.
Tenacity and Courage
A constant undercurrent of fear brings paralysis and burnout. We can become brittle when we feel we are constantly under siege. Is it true that you must always be on guard?
Real power is more pliable. Resilience is the ability to allow vulnerability. This is the only way to move again, and rise up after a fall.
Now, as 2018 draws to a close, instead of the frantic pace of trying to get everything done, maybe you instead need a mini-vacation. What intermission might do you a world of good? What needs to happen, so that you can rest more easily and recharge your batteries?
If you can’t go out of town, what if instead you simply took a news or social media break?
Are you bearing wounds that need tending? What allies are there for you and have your back?
What alternative ending to the Wands suit’s story of Fire, change, magic, and passion would you prefer to create?
Now is the time to pause, take stock, and examine any script you don’t want. Then, blessed by the New Moon, rise strong! Let your spirit rumble with the truth of your most fiery, authentic desires.
And when you arrive at your “Yes!” it will be time to jump back into the action again.