Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow.’
Mary Anne Radmacher, American author and artist
Is it just me, or does it seem like this card was just here a couple of weeks ago? Well, I checked and it’s been almost a year. In any case, welcome back to the Nine of Wands.
In the Tarot, the Nines traditionally are the culmination of the suit and show how the stories woven within may be resolved. (The Tens foreshadow the next cycle).
Wands are ruled by the element of Fire, which is associated with passion, energy, creativity, action, and power.
But this figure is not in the midst of exciting activity. Instead, he is paused. He seems to have survived some difficulty, and bears the scars of his struggle. Although bruised, he is still standing.
His defensive posture and his wary expression as he looks over his shoulder speak of his concern that the fight may not yet be finished. 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 another example of Pamela Colman Smith (the Waite-Smith deck’s artist) using a thin, double horizontal line to place 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?
A Pause in the Intensity
Brilliant friend and famed wizard of astrological wisdom, Elisabeth Grace, writes that this week there are:
Only two patterns among the planets this week that do not include the Moon.
On Wednesday, Venus forms a cooperative alignment (a sextile) with rebel Uranus, facilitating the greatest good for the greatest number, based on soulful understanding.
On Thursday, we’ll have the third and final in a series of meet-ups (conjunctions) between Mercury (ideas/communication) and Jupiter (BIG) in Aquarius, facilitating expansive news in law, travel, education, religion, technology and publishing/broadcasting — with an innovative and/or humanitarian spin.
All of which point to a breather after so much recent intensity in the heavens, and global events. We can be sure there is more to come, so like our wounded warrior in the Nine of Wands, we might want to take advantage of any break, in order to restore our equilibrium.
(By the way, if you could use your own personal roadmap, I can unreservedly recommend a personal consultation with Elisabeth).
And in her assessment for this month, Lorna Bevan writes:
In the Wild Ride of Now, the key to saving your sanity, to restoring your faith in life, to staying grounded, to following the Song Line of your Soul, is to allow yourself time and space to evolve into both the new Agenda and the spiritual Technologies.
This means recognising, tracking and trusting your own unique cycles of Wintering/Incubating/Flowering … as the collective planetary frequencies and outer world events fluctuate.
Instead of using spiritual understanding as an avoidance strategy, it means using it as a safety net, allowing yourself to experience your natural ups and downs without all the accompanying story and drama.
That way, you are less hypnotised by your highs and less frightened by your lows.
You can feel your humanity, your frailty and yet feel whole. It’s okay to feel good when you feel good and bad when you feel bad, recognising that as thoughts change your feelings change with them – there’s no need to prefer one feeling over another, let alone try to fix it.
(Bold purple type emphasis is mine, plain bold type is her emphasis).
Our hero in the Nine of Wands is hurting, and does not hide it. If life has left you feeling like him, it’s important to own your situation, just exactly as it is.
There is no doubt that many of us are struggling with all sorts of post-traumatic challenges, from the pandemic’s horrors, to the scars being inflicted by the ongoing threats of the violent and subversive overthrow of our democracy.
Similarly, even though the world right now is gripped by loss and suffering like never seen in any of our lifetimes, if things are good for you, there is no need to feel guilty, or hide the fact.
We need not be ashamed of our highs or lows, our frailty or our happiness. We simply stand at the ready, eyes wide open.
Trust your own, unique situation and your cycles of growth and letting go. And realize you have a curtain of protection you might not have known was there.
Burn Brightly or Burn Out
Even though we are inundated daily with what seems to be an endless montage of existential tragedy and change, we do not have the luxury of throwing our hands up in despair and walking away.
Similarly, our Nine of Wands hero may be hurting, but he is not defeated. He reminds us that if the cause is just, we must keep showing up. Like him, there are times when we must hold our ground, even though we may feel battered, weary, and even, at times, hopeless.
Sometimes, it is a victory to simply vow that we will try again tomorrow.
Perhaps you have been on the front lines, demanding justice for the countless People of Color who continue to be murdered by bigots. Maybe you’ve joined the call for an end to a corrupt system of racial and gender bias. Or maybe you are working to protect the voting rights of the citizenry, or to roll back the disastrous juggernaut of climate catastrophe.
On a more intimate level, most of us are feeling utterly fried by the ongoing grind of coping with COVID. The toll on families, relationships, finances, housing, and employment is incalculable, not to mention our physical and mental health.
This week’s card suggests that when something really counts, defeat is not an option. And yet, there are also times when it is necessary to stop and assess our position (and tend to our wounds).
How might you step back this week, reduce some of the stress, and refresh your vitality and creativity?
Is it true that (besides going out into the public) you must always be vigilant and never lower your guard? What is this underlying attitude of anxiety costing you?
Beware of burnout and our culture’s veneration of struggle and drama.
What alternative ending to this suit’s story of Fire, change, magic, and passion would you prefer to manifest instead?
Look behind you, and see the protection of the eight wands who have your back. Trust who you have become, shaped by hard experience.
May our inner and outer wars be resolved and may peace and safety be granted to all.