It feels like spring (yes, yes, I know it’s still officially winter)- and my little heart’s beating fast! Sure, it could have something to do with the coffee, but still, I know I’m tapping into a bigger energy here. I feel as though finally I have broken through something and have entered another phase or level of my life, and I’m pretty damn excited. When you work really hard at something, it is gratifying to get results, to feel as though there is a payoff- you want some kind of success. When it’s a specific goal, such as running a marathon or getting a job, it is fairly easy to recognize this moment of success, but when it’s something rather more intangible, such as the development of one’s inner self… well, it can be a little more difficult to define the moment of victory. Indeed, the moments seem to come and go sporadically, surprising you when you least expect it. It is all too easy to let them slip by without acknowledging what they are, but for those of us to whom this kind of work is important, I say, keep conscious so that you do enjoy the harvest of what you have sown.
So, how do we know when this kind of success has been achieved? Well, for me I guess it’s in the feeling that life is flowing easily, and good things are happening – an acceptance and even welcoming of change, of inner peace and opening to the world rather than wanting to retreat from it or be overwhelmed by it. I know it when I snuggle into bed at night with a smile on my face and wriggle my toes like a happy baby in a blissful cocoon of warmth and comfort. When I think of the day I’ve just had and can delight in so many different moments of it. Last night as I was feeling this, a thought of the Nines in the tarot came through – specifically the Cups and Pentacles. Interestingly, the Nines represent the stage of reassessment, and vary enormously between suits. If seen from the perspective of a journey from the Ace through to the completion of the Ten, the Nines show us a fairly late stage of the game, where a lot has already been encountered, and where we are at is reflected back to us.
Interestingly, for those of us who have focussed mainly on the external activities in life, and neglected the inner life of the self, the Nine of Wands shows burden and a sense of resentment. A lot of activity or pursuits which haven’t given us the kind of satisfaction they may have seemed to promise. There is still a lot going on, but it seems devoid of deeper meaning or satisfaction. As the shadow or negative aspect of fire, we see a kind of burn-out – all that energy unable to sustain itself and a lack of real manifestation. Where to from here? the card seems to ask… an interesting devolution for a suit so initially powerful and full of promise.
The Nine of Swords is classically excruciating – typical of the suit, it shows intense inner anguish or unrest – the torment of the unconscious mind that interferes with our sleep and refuses rest or peace. Whilst the Wands show us the external image, the Swords drive home the futility of thinking we are able to control our subconscious, no matter how good we are at exerting our will and mental control on a conscious level. Again, reinforcing the importance of facing one’s shadow, the fears or things we have not done or said that we know, on a deeper level, that we should have. The nine swords that hang above the tormented figure in this card are a relentless reminder that what we repress inside ourselves does not just magically disappear, and although we may avoid it or ignore it, these ghostly swords will inevitably re-emerge to haunt us if we have not been courageous enough to face the difficulties they represent.
Swords are communication – speaking to others of one’s truth, listening to the inner voice of the self, and doing one’s best to interpret and communicate the truth of the emotional self when it is appropriate. I see the Nine of Swords as the point of near-madness and mental pain that is the result of neglect and denial of one’s deep truth – the person who cannot relinquish control and is terrified of all they have inside them which makes them vulnerable – those emotions which are messy or don’t make sense or seem to have no resolution. It is the point where they cannot run or hide from the pain they have caused others from their inability to communicate.Yet even now, they do not allow the process of surrender to take place (that happens in the Ten), nor to properly reassess their beliefs about life and face the truth so they can grow – even though all the signs are screaming at them to do so.
Now, in almost direct contrast, the Cups and Pentacles show us the journey of those who have been through struggles and hardships and are finally being rewarded for their efforts.The Nine of Pentacles shows us the ‘self-made’ person who is now surrounded by the tangible rewards of their efforts. The material world around us is the manifestation of our work towards what we truly value, and it is time to enjoy it. For me, it has meant taking responsibility for my financial independence and gradually creating a beautiful home for myself and those with whom I choose to share my space. The element of Earth is crucial in grounding those ideals which I uphold and value, both in terms of nature and also in regard to my personal concepts of beauty. I have planted trees, flowers and herbs, and just last night shared an abundant feast with family and friends from our garden. After many years of feeling displaced and not knowing where ‘home’ really was, I have come now to understand that it is I who create it and nurture it – and it is here, now. Instead of running away from responsibility, of being daunted by financial issues or worried about them, I follow a very simple, practical method of dealing with each day as it comes, and investing in those things which I truly value – and it feels so good!
Finally, in the deep emotional element of Water, the figure in the Nine of Cups shows us someone who is fulfilled by the love that surrounds her/him. There is absolutely nothing as good as the feeling of loving and being loved, and of realizing that through all life’s crazy challenges, you have put your energy into something as worthwhile as relationships with others and also into loving yourself. For me, this card represents exactly how I feel right now – blessed and blissful. I have honoured my true feelings even when they have been dark and swampy and utterly terrifying. I have done my best to communicate the truth and to hold the cup of love even when it felt like there was a hole in it so big that my soul had surely slipped through and I was utterly empty. I have faced the swords of pain and fought off the ghosts of my own deep fears, even when I wasn’t sure I’d ever make it out of the darkness. Mostly, I felt the opposite of a hero. I felt more like a lost Fool than an enlightened one. Often, I felt like a victim, not being able to comprehend why Love could be the biggest bringer of pain – when Love was all I had to hold onto, all that ever really made any sense. I said and did many things I later regretted or wished I’d done differently. And conversely, I didn’t do a lot of the things I perhaps should have. But the work of the Cups is to delve into the soul and look at oneself, the good, the bad and the ugly, and to bring into birth or consciousness, a sense of self born through love and acceptance, of seeing the lessons inherent in our ‘mistakes’ or pain, and integrating them so we can become better people, better able to love. When one has taken this journey, it is in delight that we find the world reflects back at us our beauty by the people around us, those of a higher vibration and energy which can match our own. We can look around with pleasure at those friendships and other relationships in our life that are truly fulfilling and exciting and real, and know that we are truly reaping the rewards of our chosen journey. And in our hearts, we have the gold of inner peace.