Occasional card of the day: 9 of Wands, Reversed

I’m glad I’m not apprehensive about addressing reversals in readings, because the Occasional Card of the Day series would be a tough lesson to handle (nearly all these cards have come up as reversed) if I did have any misgivings. But I don’t.

As I have said before, the meaning of a card does not change when it is reversed. Instead, different aspects of the card come to the foreground. Everything in the upright interpretation is still there, still whole; it’s only our perspective that has changed. The experience of planets moving into retrograde is similar. The planets don’t actually change direction, they simply appear to. As it is our relationship with the planets that changes, not the planets themselves, so it is with reversals in Tarot.


If I were to give the 9 of Wands a caption, it would be Perseverance. The 9 of Wands shows the near end of a creative, dynamic, and active process.

At this point, discipline is the key that sees the Querent through to the end. The figure that alternately stands, moves, and struggles through the suit of wands now looks to be at his strength’s end and feeling very defensive. Conventional interpretations of this card reversed point out that the ultimate test for him now is remaining prepared for the next development, even though he is tired, in pain, and wants to quit. He must stay awake, vigilant, because the struggle implied by his injured state and the active nature of the wands is not over yet. He rests on his staff and looks over his shoulder, waiting for the next attack. Hanging upside down adds a new dimension of problems: a sense of being out of control, work piling up with no end in sight, uncertainty as to whether he is looking clearly at the problem or whether his perspective is clouded by all the blood rushing to his head! Under these circumstances, it would be easy for him to paint himself the victim of fate, to martyr himself, to say, “None of this is doing any good, anyway, so I may as well throw in the towel.”

At this point, instead of giving up, he must break out of the defenses that have become his cage to succeed. He must realize that he is guarding what he has worked for so doggedly because he has invested so much into a certain outcome.

Maybe you have already had the epiphany that affirms your purpose in the work you are doing. Maybe, since this card follows the 8 of Wands, which is about communication, you have recently received guidance from your Higher Self (and perhaps close friends) encouraging you to move forward with a new perspective, and thus you are able to transcend the perceived conflict around you by maintaining a perspective of loving detachment. Everyone who takes umbrage with your methods has a problem with them because the methods conflict with their own ideas of what should be done. Whether this difference is real or perceived depends on the situation. The more you can communicate without losing your temper, asking questions about what others’ goals are around you, the more you can identify ways you can explain your actions in terms they will understand, or discover ways in which you can tweak your methods to consider others’ sensibilities. It is never too late to be open and receptive to others’ feedback. It is never too late to change your approach.

When you happen to read this article, whether it’s the day that I wrote it or some day far in the future when you stumble on my writings, examine the choices in your life that you hold fast to and try to identify some that are really more flexible than they seem. If you feel restrained, are your ideas or actions holding you back? Review your commitments and make sure you entered into them consciously. What daily practices have you cultivated that encourage you to persevere? Hold fast to those, and maybe do some yoga stretches to regain a little of your childhood flexibility.

As with any of the nines reversed, your goals are within reach, and in the instance of the 9 of Wands reversed, they are closer than they seem, but a radical shift in consciousness is necessary to bring about ultimate success.

Re-examine your goals from the beginning of the process. How have your principles been tested, and what has been proven true or false through the process? How are the people around you reacting to your actions? How dedicated are you to being seen as a “winner” by others?


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