Culminating: the Nines in tarot

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Editor’s Note: If you want to experiment with tarot cards and don’t have any, we provide a free tarot spread generator using the Celtic Wings spread, which is based on the traditional Celtic Cross spread. This article explains how to use the spread. You can visit Sarah’s website here. –efc

By Sarah Taylor

I was struggling this morning to come up with a collective idea for the Nines — a theme that runs through each and all of the cards. With some of the numbers that we’ve explored, the Twos and Fours for example, something has made itself known to me right away in terms of a connecting principle.

9 of Wands and 9 of Cups - RWS Tarot deck.

9 of Wands and 9 of Cups from the Rider-Waite Smith Tarot deck. Click on the image for a larger version.

With the Nines, though, there seems to be such a striking contrast between the Wands and Swords — both suggesting a form of conflict — and the Cups and the Pentacles — which on the surface seem to indicate achievement — that I was immediately taken in by their differences, not their similarities.

But, as I have so often experienced when working with tarot, it’s better to take a closer look before coming to any conclusions; not everything is as it first seems. This was discussed in an article and the accompanying comments when the Nine of Pentacles was drawn as part of a Weekend Tarot Reading. What we see on the surface isn’t necessarily the whole story. In fact, it seldom is, as we peel away one layer of meaning, only to come across another.

Therefore, taking a closer look, what strikes me most about the four cards this week is that all of the characters are alone — or, at least, they are the only human figure on their card. Have you noticed that the minor arcana in the Rider-Waite Smith deck has focussed increasingly on a single figure as we have moved through the numbers, from Ace to Nine? This sense of isolation started in the Sevens, continued in the Eights, and is present in the Nines for the final time. (I am excluding Court Cards here, which I feel are discrete in many ways, even as they move with the evolutionary flow of the minor arcana. I’ll write more about this when we look at them in upcoming articles.)

What is this isolation about? To me, it feels like a process of going within. In the Nines, we are close to reaching some point of expression, although it is still currently taking shape. Hence culminating rather than culmination: the idea is not yet fully developed.

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Sarah Taylor

About Sarah Taylor

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6 Responses to Culminating: the Nines in tarot

  1. indranibe says:

    Sarah hit the nail on the head. Len just drove it home. (Somehow I didn’t see the title). That’s exactly it – culminating. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

  2. indranibe says:

    I think Len hit the nail on the head: culminating. There’s that word. Even in the 9S the bed and the coverlet are still beautiful; the “intellect” substantial – so if that’s the bed, then there are worse places to lie. Who else has that nagging feeling that says “Wait!”? Waiting, waiting, waiting… But for what?? The nines – like an embarrassment of riches – almost too much, but not really. Enough however to take a step back and look at what you have, look at what you’ve done (achieved! achieved!), and now, with this weighty treasury at your disposal, what do you want to do? Ands therein lies the question…

    I said that to someone today, “Once you’ve turned 40, it’s all about fun. God knows I’ve ‘done my time’!”

    Here’s how I feel – the world can wait; everything can wait until I am good and ready. Finally, I am in the position to call the shots. I choose. Because now, finally, it’s all about me.

    And no, I don’t give a rat’s arse. I’ve worked, I’ve paid, I’ve done my time, and now, I’ve come to collect.

    xoxox (Good times ahead Sarah, drink that birthday cocktail! Wassail!) :)

  3. Lizzy Huffy says:

    I rarely comment on your readings dear Sarah, but I always read them and find them absolutely fascinating and helpful too. “Thus, we draw our battle out from within and project it onto others. This is usually an unconscious process, emphasized by the figure in the Nine of Swords, hands over eyes…Once we open our eyes in the Ten of Swords, we open up to the potential for surrender in order to emerge from the darkness and into the light”. Hope to make it through the night!
    Thank you
    Liz xx

  4. Charles says:

    I’m short on time so I’ll have to make it quick, but I wanted to comment on the 9 of Swords. Sarah noted the bedspread with the astrological symbols and the roses. I always interpret that as symbols of heavenly protection and love. Even at a moment of despair, the protection of heaven covers us like a blanket, even if we have our eyes covered and cannot see it.

  5. Lea Burning River says:

    Sarah, thank you for your thoughtful and thorough discussion of the 9s. Your insight has been helpful to me. Especially liked it that you talked about the snail–did not leave it out of all the grandeur supposedly going on around it. And about the hawk coming back. Even though the Medicine Woman Tarot (the deck I find most helpful to me) is so outwardly different than all the other decks, the fine light of inspiration runs through all of them and harmonizes with one another and I am eneriched in my life and assisted in my conscious living of my life with all these helpers. Have always loved Tarot especiaially. So happy that you are sharing your talent with us. Big Hug. Little Snail.

  6. Len Wallick Len Wallick says:

    Thank you for taking on such complexity and pulling it all together. When things are culminating, they can often seem like a bit much. You made it fit without sacrificing the essential ambience.

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