If you carry joy in your heart, you can heal any moment.
For this week of the Aries New Moon, shadowed as we are by the economic and pandemic crisis, I was itching to know if another Very Big Card would show itself to guide us. Although not a Major Arcana, our visitor this week does depict a rather large gentleman, who is the guardian of the Nine of Cups.
As you may know, the Tarot’s Cups suit is concerned with our rich tapestry of human emotions. They address the gamut of our joys and sorrows, as well as our intuition, dreams, and love. They are also cards of empathy and healing.
And the Nines of the Tarot are about completion, when the gifts and lessons of the Ace through Eights have been fulfilled and integrated. (The Tens, as I have often noted, are an overflow, and foreshadow the suit’s next cycle).
The Nines are also known as very magical numbers, for nine is the result of the lucky three, multiplied times itself (3×3).
We can assume from his clothing that this is a man of some means, yet the setting is quite simple. He sits on a small bench, smiling straight at us, his arms crossed. Behind him, we see a curved table, covered in a cloth of blue that could remind one of a waterfall. On it, as if for a banquet, there are nine cups lined up.
Although many people feel that Pixie Smith’s depiction of the gentleman in the card reveals a smug self-righteousness, I have not found him to be so.
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.”
While his crossed arms may invite an interpretation of intimidation or keeping the seeker away from his table, I prefer the idea that his posture is yet another depiction of the cosmic lemniscate — the sideways figure eight — symbol of infinity.
It’s a symbol used in The Magician, Strength, The World, and the Two of Pentacles. I believe it is also implied in Temperance, and here in the Nine of Cups.
The seated figure suggests that our emotions may manifest in the physical world, and thus, contentment arrives. After all, the yellow sky and land beneath him point to the magical truth of “as above, so below.”
If seen in the context of the suit’s “story,” the Nine shows us the successful outcome of the Eight’s quest. Here on this draped table, we are shown the Cups of emotional satisfaction and longings fulfilled. The arched table, in turn, foretells of the rainbow in the final pips card, the Ten of Cups.
While Waite admits this card “offers the material side … there are other aspects.” Here we are reminded that love is the truest wealth.
With his enigmatic smile, this card of contentment is traditionally known as the Wishing Card. So be sure to make a wish — or two! Or nine! — especially on the New Moon Tuesday. We certainly could use some wishing magic!
You need only ask it of this seated gentleman. Do you dare?
Initiation of the Heart
The nines of the Tarot are about completeness. Nine is a very magical number in many traditions, for it is often associated with leadership, initiation, and altruism. It is a threshold number reminding us to balance between idealism and realism, and is a number strongly associated with creativity and fate.
With the suit of Cups, we are talking about emotional satisfaction, perhaps a dream come true.
This card reminds me of the process of magickal initiation. After a period of study, practice, and preparation, which one might view as steps depicted in the previous cards in the suit, the initiatory rite itself begins with a challenger.
The challenger demands the name and intention of the seeker, and possibly asks other test questions.
Similarly, our Nine of Cups protector is all that sits between you and your fulfillment. But before you may move ahead, perhaps you must declare who you are and what you seek.
When you are deemed ready by your faith and intention to pass with his blessing, your wishes can be granted.
Love in the Time of Pandemic
Monday sees the last winking out of the dying, balsamic Moon. Then on Tuesday, Aries, the first sign of the zodiac, oversees the birth of the first moon of the new astrological year. That’s a lot of brand new.
As our trusty adviser, Annie Heese of Cafe Astrology tells us:
This is a strong cycle under which to re-evaluate our relationship to ourselves. With this potent Aries energy, we have the chance to make important changes in our lives. It’s time to make some solid yet realistic plans and to set the stage for reaping the rewards from our new beginnings, as little or big as they may be, in approximately two weeks’ time after the Full Moon occurs.
Aries is the first sign of the zodiac, and thus a New Moon in Aries is especially ripe with opportunity for new beginnings. We might consider acting on a constructive impulse and following a hunch or taking a risk. Aries learns through experience and action, so we might treat ourselves to a little adventure now.
It’s also a good cycle under which to discover the benefits of expressing ourselves with authenticity – expressing ourselves as we are, without putting on airs. We might also find ways to learn how to rely on ourselves and to be happy about doing so – it will go a long way towards finding inner happiness when we know that we can be self-sufficient without blaming others for not helping us out.
It’s a time to revitalize ourselves through experiences that break the routine and that involve doing something new and fresh.
The Nine of Cups is a supportive benefactor who suggests that it’s time to awaken our authentic selves, knowing that, regardless of what we think (Swords) or how the physical world is behaving (Pentacles), we are given a long, abundant pause to feel, to love, to dream, and thus heal from the inside.
Who or what now offers you great contentment and the recognition of your most sincere longings?
As I have noted many times, every Tarot card has aspects of light and shadow. Many readers perceive this husky figure’s expression to be a bit too pleased with himself.
Thus, we must beware of over-indulgence or complacency. Let us remember that there are others who need care. Our care.
This is the worst possible time for selfishness. Our lives now depend on our acceptance of the profound ways we are interconnected.
As legendary astrologer Steven Forrest explains:
Many astrologers have been pointing an accusing finger at the current planetary traffic jam in Capricorn, with the Saturn-Pluto conjunction as the main culprit [regarding the COVID-19 pandemic], and Mars currently helping it along. Neptune in Pisces has a correlation with contagion too, as Maurice Fernandez has emphasized.
All that is solid astrology, but it leaves out an important piece of the puzzle – one whose significance has been banging us over the head since 2005, but which astrologers still tend to ignore. That is the planet Eris, which is currently squaring the Pluto-Saturn conjunction, and doing so from the edgy sign Aries.. I believe the Eris-Pluto square is actually the heart of the matter.
His entire article presents one powerful insight after another, and I recommend it, especially for those of you who are conversant in astrology. But for our purpose this week, I want to highlight his conclusion:
I believe that Covid-19 is fundamentally a manifestation of the Pluto-Eris square. The essential underlying evolutionary purpose of the configuration is the realization that selfishness – both in individuals and in nations – has just collided with its own end game.
The myth of the rugged, independent individual separate from everyone else has finally hit the wall. As we have seen, we are all in this together. Denying that reality simply no longer works in a practical way for anyone. Anyone who does deny it is more likely to get sick.
Even money can’t keep anyone safe. Our anger with each other, our divisions, our brutal competitiveness, our sense that national boundaries reflect some immutable law of nature – all of that is collapsing right now before our eyes.
The smiling gentleman in the Nine of Cups could be seen as the antidote to the death throes of the failing paradigm. While strong, grounded, and focused, he does not represent a wall, but is, as is the way of all magical guardians, a protector who tests our confidence and resolve.
Deep Listening to the Wish-Maker
Will we at last reach out for the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible? The only real barrier between the wish and the outcome is the awareness of the love that moves us.
The challenges you may be experiencing at this time can be resolved. What does your intuition say? Let yourself know what you know!
Turn down the volume on the shrill, unending media spectacle that is loaded with frustration, blame, despair, and overwhelm.
Find your center. Go within, to your unwavering heart of hearts: the ancient witness of your being that has seen multitudes of lives come, and go, and return again. And from that empowered soul-place, let us offer one another a helping hand (while, naturally, emulating the Nine of Cups and keeping our literal hands to ourselves).
This week we arrive at a doorway of new beginnings. Give thanks and take the time to savor and appreciate all that you do have.
Protect and replenish your spirit with simplicity and restorative pleasures. The deep well of joy in your heart can heal any moment.