Understanding Tarot: The Nines of the Minor Arcana

minor arcana nine of tarot
Cards Pictured are from the Rider Waite Tarot Deck

The Understanding Tarot series is written by Claire Chilvers. If you would like to read more of Claire’s articles or book a tarot reading, please visit www.clairechilvers.com or follow her at – @ClaireChilversTarot

Nearing completion with the Nines

The penultimate stage of our four journeys has arrived and as we near the end it can bring a sense of achievement or foreboding, but also another valuable lesson. 

We can see the contrasting pictures give a wide range of the emotions we can face when we realise that a part of our life is almost at a close and a new beginning is about to be presented to us.

The Nine of Swords

The Nine of Swords conjures up a scene which we can all relate to and, I imagine, we have all lived through at least once.

The character is consumed by insomnia caused by constant worry and anxiety in her mind. The turmoil of a restless night’s sleep is shown as this person frets, agonises, and weeps over what may or may not lie ahead. 

The blackness of the room matches the mood, this situation can be damaging to both mental and physical health if it is continued for any length of time. It is a gloomy exhausting time to experience.

There are many times when the threat of the imminent days ahead brings an absolution that we fear.

Knowing a relative, friend or even a beloved pet is at the final stage of their life and we are preparing to say goodbye to them, or the realisation that a relationship has run its course and you have to be brave enough to finish it once and for all, or even knowing that the days that follow may be the last ones at your current job as a redundancy looms– these circumstances could find us in exactly this position and dreading what comes next. 

However, there is a saying that life is always darkest before the dawn, and whilst this picture shows the crying, worrying, and wailing of a turbulent night, it is usually the case that this process will cause exhaustion and eventually bring an uneasy sleep. But, the morning will arrive with the promise of a brighter day.

No matter how dark our thoughts have been in the wee small hours, there is always hope that things will get better and continue to do so. And this could certainly be true in the long term, but, for those who resonate with this card’s image, it would take an enormous amount of positivity to see the better, bigger picture at this stage. 

But, it is important to note that sometimes this level of worry and upset can be totally unnecessary. Have you ever lay awake at night and fret over something you did or said years before which really doesn’t matter anymore?

Or worried about an exam that is looming and convinced yourself you will be staring at a blank piece of paper and forget how to write? Or frightened yourself into a stupor thinking of ways that your loved ones could come to harm – each scenario becoming more and more dramatic and elaborate when they are actually safely tucked up in bed?

These ideas may sound silly and flippant but our mind really does play the most awful tricks on us when it is determined to rob us of our sleep and our peace.

Within the swords journey, there have been more than enough mentally challenging situations to deal with during the daylight hours. This card warns that they could encroach on us at night too – if we let them. 

By this stage of the swords journey, there should be sufficient experience of the various states of mind to know when we need to be anxious or worried and when we don’t.

We last saw in the Eight of Swords that we have the ability to think ourselves out of restrictive and difficult situations. But, nonetheless, this shows another way that we manage to keep ourselves in a rut.

This journey was never about eradicating unhelpful thought patterns completely for there are always going to be times when we are completely justified to show fear, concern, uneasiness, or agitation about our life’s path. 

The message within this card is that we can be in control of our mind when we have these thoughts and have the ability to recognise why we are thinking in these ways and what we can do about it. Our mind is not in control of us, we can overcome every negative thought we have – but it takes practice. 

The swords in this picture are displayed proudly on the wall to the side of this character. They signify every challenge and struggle they have had to deal with so far.

If this person could only take their hands away from their face long enough to look at these reminders of strength in adversity they would know they have dealt with far worse and come through the other side. 

Nine of Cups

It seems almost insensitive to talk of the happy, self-assured character we meet in the Nine of Cups after seeing a soul in such despair. But, as we have seen throughout every stage of these four journeys, the different suits all have their ups and downs.

If you remember, with the Eight of Cups we saw our character bravely walking away from all that he has known, in search of something that was missing in his life. Here we see confirmation that he has managed to find it – yet we know nothing of the journey in between and how emotionally draining it was nor how long it took. 

The Nine of Cups is a card that recognises when someone has accomplished some deep inner work. Finding that missing link in your emotions that enhances your self-esteem is an incredibly hard, arduous task that is not for the faint-hearted.

This man sits with his cups placed upright behind him displayed for the world to see. He projects to the word a smiling face, folds his arms, and confidently sits with his legs apart, ‘owning’ the whole bench that he sits on, which gives him the air of someone who is incredibly proud of themselves and is not frightened of showing it. (Although my dear friend, Harriet, has often pointed out that no matter how happy he looks you wouldn’t want to sit next to him on a train!).

His bright red hat and socks remind us of the red-cloaked figure who walked off to find his true self. But our character is now wearing a robe of white which is a symbol of purity, wholeness, and completion. Although we are not quite at the completion stage yet, so why would it be signified here?

The answer is because this person has learned the lesson of self-love. To truly love ourselves and find the way to make peace with the parts of ourselves and our past which have caused us emotional stress and upset makes us complete. Once this happens it gives a wonderful feeling of being lifted to a new range of emotions where love is at the centre of any choices that are made on the path going forward. 

Once a person can choose to love themselves and find the happiness that inner peace brings, it always follows that similar like-minded souls begin to appear in our lives.

Once your emotional vibrations are lifted, others on the same frequency begin to present themselves in your life, and similarly, those of a lower frequency begin to disperse.

If you resonate with the sentiment of the Nine of Cups you may notice yourself moving away from people in your life who do not make you feel good or are not serving you well, which in turn creates an opening for new people to appear.

The Nine of Cups symbolises the moment when you accept you have been through so much emotionally, but, now deserve to be happy and will begin to make that a priority. 

The Nine of Wands

The Nine of Wands sees how our fast and furious wands (which were pictured in the Eight of Wands) have landed with a bit of a bump.

Our character looks bruised and battered and, although the eight wands have landed safely around him, he seems to be holding a ninth wand protectively not quite knowing what to do next. 

The wands have positioned themselves as a barrier around the grounds in which this injured soldier stands. But are they keeping him in or keeping others out? It is hard to tell.

The wand’s journey has not been without its challenges or its critics. Yet, regardless of this, our brave adventurer has continued on his path determined to achieve so much and show his talents and abilities.

In order to do this, there has been a constant theme of needing to succeed and to stand up for what he believes in and is passionate about. 

Even in this penultimate card he is still standing, ready to fight at any given moment. As much as this shows determination, resilience, and a tough exterior, it could also signify stubbornness, inflexibility, and an unwillingness to back down. 

If the wands have taught us anything as we have been carried along by their energy it is that they are relentless in their desire to move forward.

Each of these journeys has had the promise of teaching us something about ourselves and it would appear at this latter stage in the journey we are learning that there are consequences for living a fast-paced life filled with desires to explore the world, achieve ambition and showcase our talents.

This person is injured and wary. Has this been due to recklessness or because they have been in one too many battles? Are the barriers put there by their own choice or has someone else suddenly taken charge and prevented them from continuing?

There have been brief pauses in the wands journey before; we saw it in the celebrations of the Four of Wands and the victory parade of the Six of Wands, but, this pause is very different. Obviously, it does not look as celebratory as the other two cheerful milestones, nor is it suggesting that the pause will be brief. 

Wands are all about action and making external changes but this card seems a misfit as it is implying that a wall is now stopping any further advancement. Why? Is it a warning or a blessing? Possibly it may be a little of both?

Can you remember a time in your life when you have spent so much time rushing from job to job that you have caused yourself an injury or suddenly became ill and needed a week in bed putting all your plans and projects on hold?

Alternatively, would you resonate with always being the one to rush in and make hasty decisions regardless of the consequences? Or have you enthusiastically shared your creative ideas or business plans with someone disloyal who has double-crossed you and taken your dreams away? 

Suddenly those barriers seem to make more sense, they are the warning that you cannot continue without prioritising the safety of your mind, body and spirit. Whether that is protection from others, or your own crazy ego that keeps running away with you is something only you will know.

The wands are there for the greater good, but, they can easily be crossed, broken, or bent out of shape too, if you really are determined to ignore them!

Like all the nine cards, the journey is near completion. Wanting to achieve success is not the same as enjoying success.

Finding the part of you that allows you to be content with your achievements is just as important as working towards the achievements themselves. The Nine of Wands is giving us one more chance to understand this.

The Nine of Pentacles

The Nine of Pentacles are finally proving to us that patience is a virtue. This beautiful lady has a similar message to our cheerful man in the Nine of Cups, for this is a card of completion even though we are not at the end of this pentacles journey.

It seems quite ironic that our slow pentacles are completed early and reminds me of the fable about The Tortoise and The Hare – slow and steady wins the race! There is even a little snail in the foreground, a symbol of slow progress and persistence if ever there was one.

Behind this lady is a vineyard dripping with bunches of juicy red grapes – the lady is carrying a hawk which, in times gone by, was the chosen companion for any well-to-do lady. Hawks symbolise independence and intelligence too. 

Do you remember when we last saw an image of grapes and pentacles before? If was in the bleakest of cards, shining down from the stained glass window of the church that gave refuge to our weary paupers in the Five of Pentacles.

It seems unbelievable that such hardship could be on the same journey as this abundant scene but, as I mentioned earlier, all the suits have experiences of the good and the bad of life. 

Having a full harvest means that this character is self-sufficient, self-reliant, and able to support herself in any further endeavours she chooses.

We have seen times when other people were essential to progress here, such as the important business meeting of the Three of Pentacles and the charitable donations of the Six of Pentacles, but, this card brings the long-held dreams of most people that embark on this pentacles journey.

There is something so wholly satisfying in knowing that you no longer need other’s financial help. It opens up opportunities and a world where you are no longer beholden to anyone else’s restrictions or covenants. 

As well as this freedom, this card also symbolises wisdom; we have seen the hard work and long hours that it has taken to arrive at this point.

I cannot think for one minute that the harvest will not be undertaken properly and the grapes will not be made and bottled into the finest wines to further their investments and material growth. 

This card shows the rewards of hard work, but, also the warning that this is not the time to rest on one’s laurels too, although as this character is now in a more wealthy position, there may be others who can take on the labouring instead.

If you have ever been in the fortunate position to be promoted and have others working for you, or to suddenly see profits increasing in your business after years of hard work, which make life a little less of a struggle, this card would resonate with you.

Alternatively, the day when someone makes their last mortgage payment, or when children have finished education and no longer need financial support are all times when life can open up and present more freedom and choices.

This card is a completion, but, we are not at the end of the journey yet, those grapes need harvesting and to be made into wine. And what better way to celebrate success than sharing it with others?

The Nines have given us an indication of how our endings will play out, but whichever suit you have chosen to follow, its purpose is to give the guidance and messages that assist you at this particular time.

We are all unique and all here to experience different lessons and the Tarot are designed to enhance our human experience as we move through our own life journey.

If you would like to read more of Claire’s articles or book a tarot reading, please visit her website www.clairechilvers.com

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About the author

Claire Chilvers

Claire Chilvers is a writer and tarot reader and lives in Essex, UK. She offers tarot readings to clients in the UK and around the world via video calls (Skype usually), if you would like a reading please contact her at clairechilverstarot@yahoo.com. Claire also has a Youtube Channel where she shares daily readings- https://www.youtube.com/@dailytarotwithclaire