If you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective.
the Dalai Lama
Have you, like me, found yourself checking the news each morning, wondering if our democracy is still standing? Waiting to discover what fresh hell awaits, with climate crisis, threat of pandemic, ongoing systemic injustice, and tyranny on the march?
This week of the New Moon, the Sun’s ingress into Pisces, and the first Mercury retrograde of 2020, the Nine of Wands encapsulates the profound weariness of waiting for the other shoe to drop.
In the Tarot, the Nines traditionally are the culmination of the suit and show how the stories woven within may be resolved.
In the Wands, the suit of Fire, action, 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 the other Wands are protectively lined up behind him, and he is at rest, he is not at ease. His expression is that of someone who fully expects more battles yet to come.
As we can see, this is yet another example of Pamela Colman Smith, the Waite-Smith 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?
No Rest for the Weary
If burnout is stalking you this week, wisdom suggests a full stop.
Our wise friend at Hare in the Moon Astrology, Lorna Bevan, agrees, noting:
With Mars at Max, anything still standing from the ongoing Saturn/Pluto collapse –collectively, personally and politically — will be tested for resilience and relevance. This is another step in the ongoing physical Embodiment process and you’ll feel the squeezing, contracting, condensing Earth energies working to clear away the dross.
We’re all climbing, falling to our knees, getting back on our feet, building strength and removing the rubble of an old life gone dark…
Look closely at our card, and you might recognize that could easily be a portrait of what this looks and feels like.
Mercury turns retrograde on Monday February 17th in Pisces, the first retrograde of 2020, followed by a New Moon in Pisces on Sunday 23rd.
Nothing will be clear, resolved or finished. This is a place of Not-Knowing and Un-Knowing when we are transitioning to living in the Now, one day or even one hour at a time, constantly clearing and re-clearing our own ecology, our own energy frequency and our own field of influence. No comparisons – this transformation comes perfectly personalised.
If you are in this period of Not-Knowing, you might be much better off waiting a moment. We are in a powerful transitional phase of endings and unclear starts. Like our battered protagonist of the Nine of Wands, we might need a breather.
A World on Fire
The recent fires engulfing so much of Australia seem symptomatic of a wider global conflagration. Here in the U.S., our beleaguered justice system is sliding into a full-blown crisis. And, despite being a Snopes hoax only a few years ago, it appears that Japan really is now considering dumping the radioactive water from Fukushima into the Pacific Ocean.
We are facing the relentless undoing of environmental protections, the overturning of treaties and agreements regarding the sacred lands of our First Nations, the pillaging of our treasures — from our national parks to the social protections that many of us have paid into for our whole working lives. For many, it feels like there are a hundred arson-lit brush fires that we are trying to keep in check.
So if you are feeling demoralized, it’s no wonder.
This is an old and very effective military tactic that was first used with spectacular success (in modern times) by Napoleon Bonaparte. Military historian Robert Bateman writes, “[Exhaustion is] a strategy which seeks the gradual erosion of an enemy nation’s will or means to resist. Here, one is pursuing an indirect objective, using military power not against the enemy’s armies or navies, but against the things that make him capable of fighting at all.”
Whether it is on the world stage, at your job, in some civic group, or perhaps via a neighborhood conflict, those who are working against us often count on drying up our resourcefulness. They may continue to set fires of destruction and drama in order to divert our attention and deplete our ability to respond.
Calm the Outer Fires and Replenish Your Inner Flame
If this is the case for you, then the Nine of Wands wants you to first and foremost — halt! Take stock. Are you bearing wounds that need tending? Rest well, heal well. Really know and acknowledge that this is where you are.
What has drained your enthusiasm and tests your fortitude right now?
During the current phase of the balsamic Moon, we may feel we are utterly spent, for so, too, is our Lady Luna in Her cycle. Is this waning and dying of the old Moon the beginning of an ending? The end of the beginning? Or the beginning of a new beginning?
The Nine of Wands, emphasizing as it does fiery concerns like passion, creativity, energy, growth, change, and magic, would suggest that you might examine the element of Fire as it intertwines with your situation.
This is an opportunity to assess the alliances that have your back (and which do not). Take advantage of this Mercury retrograde’s gifts, that urge a time of reflection, restoration, and repose.
We are being reminded that this is not a sprint, this lifetime of service, dedication, and creative change that we find ourselves in.
Our journey here is a marathon, and it is folly to attempt it at breakneck speed. Instead, rewards come when we treat ourselves and our limits with more compassion.
Step back if you need to, and do not be too proud to ask for help. Trust that there are fresh, capable partners around you, willing to lend a hand while you regroup.
With this card’s blessings, we can fortify ourselves, cultivating our steady endurance, and go the distance.