Fighting for what matters – Nine of Wands

Yesterday’s anti-cuts protest in London was incredible.

Half a million people – three-hours-worth of people marching through London, along the river, past Westminster, up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square, along Picadilly to Hyde Park corner, shouting, screaming, booing, singing, banners for every cause from children’s centres to hospital back-office staff, world development to pensions, disability benefits to adult education. United by anti-Toryism, anti-capitalism and fury at the decimation of vital services which millions of people rely on.

Since I’d been up before 5am to travel down, I’d not drawn a daily card, so whereas normally I’d be seeking the characteristics of one card in the course of my day, I set myself the opposite challenge of finding a card to match yesterday’s events instead.

Fighting for your cause – it’s a Wands thing, isn’t it? The Five of Wands, which I drew a few days ago, embodying fighting your corner, without animosity. No, too soft. Many say the guys on that card are just playfighting – working out their beliefs and how they will fight, but there is no danger, no real hurt. Yesterday was about something far tougher, and was filled with the mixed-up atmosphere of the joy of collective action combined with hatred and anger for the government and banks.

How about the Nine of Wands? With it’s message to be vigilant, that the next fight is coming, that the battle isn’t won…we are tired, but we will be victorious if we keep our wits about us – this card combines inner strength with preparation for battle and the promise of victory…if we stay true to ourselves.

In the Shadowscapes Companion, Stephanie Law writes that ‘it urges you to keep strength in reserve and to always be prepared for any eventuality. Retain a core of power; even more importantly, know what that inner strength is, for sometimes we possess an ability to endure through travails that is not evident until put to the test’. It’s optimistic, it’s idealistic. It’s like watching The Lord of the Rings…you know they’ll pull though, though the road is hard and filled with incredible challenges, physical and mental. Ultimately it’s that wholehearted commitment to what’s right and good that wins the day.


This card is the Nine of Wands from the Alchemical Tarot. I don’t know much about this deck, and I’m not ready to befuddle my mind any more at this stage with learning a whole new system of chemical symbolism…but a quick skim of the internet turned up an interesting interpretation:

“Historians now agree that the wolf, for example, was usually an alchemical metaphor for the mineral stibnite – antimony sulfide – which, in molten form, ‘’voraciously’’ dissolves many metals, including gold. One of the traditional alchemical symbols of gold is a king. Since antimony sulfide converts ‘base’ metals into sulfide, scums that can be skimmed away from melted gold; the wolf and king picture is merely an allegorical recipe for refining pure gold from its alloys”. [Quoting from this article.] Myself, I think this is a really important metaphor, and far more meaningful than a man with a bandage leaning upon his staff as seen in the Waite deck.

Dan Pelletier

To me, reading this, this image shows the moment before the wolf, standing in a ring of fire indicating the battle to come, will emerge victorious – a ‘golden’ king. It is the very heat of the fire, the violence and challenge of the battle, that brings about this transformation, like in that heat, the wolf’s ‘king essence’ emerges. Through joining forces and fighting the government together, we realise our inner strength, for which the oppressive Con-Dem strategy is no match.

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