The Nine of Cups is a funny old card.
The Waite-Smith image is pleasingly simple and symmetrical, showing a well-dressed fellow sat with his arms crossed over a well-fed belly. Behind him are his nine lovely cups, arranged neatly in an arc around him.
The Nine of Cups is like… “how are you doing?” ‘Very well thank you!” As in, it’s not “meh…”, but it’s not “absolutely fantastic!’ either. It’s the card of satisfaction, of feeling pretty darn good about stuff. Got my cups, got my hat, yep, shit’s pretty good right now.
I’ve always seen this as the card for not questioning things (or on the other hand, as a prod not to not question, not to become complacent.) It carries for me the both positive and negative connotation of ‘settling’. Knowing stuff ain’t perfect, but understanding that it’s good, and being happy to settle here rather than battle on/take risks/put the effort in to achieve even more. An interesting and useful card when it appears in a reading – I can think of plenty of times in my life when I’ve either not been prepared to settle, when I sure as hell should have, and also times when I’ve settled, when I could have struck out for so much more.
My TABI mentor put a different spin on this the other day, asking me ‘what is that long cloth hiding?’ This guy’s cups are lined up on a table which is covered with a blue cloth – all we see are the nine golden trophies, but beneath the cloth, anything could be hidden away. So the the Nine of Cups can represent denial.
I’d drawn the card in a ‘health’ postition in a money/love/health reading. The suggestion to me was that in general, the querent’s health was fine, but the message was not to become complacent about it or take good health for granted, especially emotional health. But my mentor encouraged me to go a little further. Is the querent hiding something health-related? Whilst they are presenting to the world this image that everything’s dandy, could a hidden health problem be lurking beneath that blue cloth?
So there are some different messages to take from the Nine of Cups…
- Be satisfied with what you have and take pleasure in a simple good time
- Don’t get complacent – sure, this is nice, but you could strive for more!
- You’re presenting a cheery face to the world, but are you hiding worries, either from yourself or those around you?
I’m a 30-something writer, artist, tarot reader, and perpetual explorer of the space between thought, feeling, and action.
I believe that spirituality and ritual are for everybody. I’m about the journey, in all of its messy, non-linear, chaotic iterations. I am excited by anticapitalist business and living with my whole entire self present. I use tarot cards to bring forth hidden truth, and ritual to affirm my commitment, over and over, to my ever-shifting path.