Safe aggression: An ode to the children of nine


“I’m just a Buffalo Soldier
In the heart of America
Stolen from Africa, brought to America
Said he was fighting on arrival
Fighting for survival.”
Buffalo SoldierBob Marley

I guess you’ve heard these lyrics.

Do you know what buffalo soldier means?

In post-Civil War America, Congress decided that a sizable peacetime armed force was needed to help secure the ‘dangerous’ wild west. So they doubled the army and, against the wishes of the Army itself, included for the first time, segregated units made up entirely of black soldiers.

These soldiers would be known as ‘buffalo soldiers.’ There’s debate about how the name was intended. But it’s clear that it originated with Native American people. After a clash with Buffalo soldiers, the Cheyenne describe “these new warriors ‘who had fought like a cornered buffalo; who like a buffalo had suffered wound after wound, yet had not died; and who like a buffalo had a thick and shaggy mane of hair’” (Sutherland 2003)

Marley writes about the plight of the black American soldier who helped fight the natives in the west and south.

The term buffalo soldier is about the meeting of these two groups through the vehicle of conquest. This is what war does. It grinds disparate pieces together in one bullet-riddled context and leaves in its wake stories of bravery or cruelty.

War is fear, rage and injustice compacted. It’s senseless death. It’s two marginalized groups pitted against one another for the gain of another group. And since warfare has been the egoic tool of the power-hungry to subdue, snake charm, and confound the masses for millennia, it has an understandably bad rap.

And so does Mars.

War is the domain of Mars: Aggression. Puppeteering. Bloodlust.

Even the more balanced associations of Mars like ambition, assertiveness, leadership, and charisma, depending on your upbringing, can be hard qualities to sit with. Especially in the spiritual community.

Is there such a thing as safe aggression?

Is it possible to fight the right war? And what would that even look like?

During a recent year-long reading for a client, I pulled almost all the nines in the deck. I pulled up my notes and noticed their birthdate reduced to nine. Just like mine. I’d just so happened to be geeking numerology that week and had read that those born on nine-days, the 9th, the 18th, and the 27th, can be drawn to one another.

After the reading, nines were everywhere.

For various reasons, the number nine has mathematical, mythological/religious, and astrological significance. In Chaldean Numerology the number nine is the only number without associations to letters. It’s regarded as highest among all numbers. And it’s associated with Mars.

I have history with Mars.

Right up until my first Saturn return, I viewed life, in general, as warfare. In my formative years, I even dressed for the part, with 15 lb jump boots, a wary NYC scowl and a gas mask holder for a purse as my wardrobe centerpieces. (The latter didn’t always go well at airports.)

I felt like I could go anywhere in New York City. Even at 4 am. Because I was armed, watchful and at all times, ready for battle.

Spirituality dissolved a good chunk of my armor.

Mindfulness has all but cured my PTSD. And my more privileged problem lately is what to do with the part of me made for battle. Catch things that fly out of the fridge? Acrobatics? Kink? Hold space for people with pasts like mine?

Not all of our battles look the same. If you’re like me, figuring all that out, born on a nine-day – the 9th, 18th, 27th – or at the time ruled by Mars, under the sign of Aries or Scorpio. Then this is for you:

An ode to the children of nine

Bustle, bend, bust and brush
against the grain
Make room for your heat-
breathing heart.
From particle to space
lay claim.

Beam, bask and glow.
Living might singe your skin
loving might cost you softness
wanting might cripple your slow.

Do it anyway.
Until you’re old enough to know how
or know better.
It’s what we have,
rams, scorpions, and their step-siblings:
the children of nine.

Things we must not do:
claim the shame of the bold
shrink from the fearless fire within
shy from battles we were born for
wage the wrong war.

One thing we must
Make peace
with ourselves
with the world
as only we can.

mars tarot

Here’s a micro link round up featuring the tarot cards associated with Mars:

The Emperor
The Tower
The Two of Wands
The Three of Pentacles
The Five of Cups
The Seven of Wands
The Nine of Swords
The Ten of Cups

Guess which of these I’ll write about next?

There are many reasons lately to side-eye the assertive and bold among us. Especially as it becomes increasingly obvious how different we all feel about so much. It’s the perfect time to embrace, explore, and transform the most fearful, battle-worn, and rage-filled parts of ourselves. Make sure to fight the right wars. The ones you have experience with, or in the absence of that, support. The ones that soften your heart.

If survival is all you can muster, do that. If a defense is needed, do that too. And when you have space, rather than be led by reactions, let your values lead you to your victories. There’s plenty to do.  And even the warriors among us could stand to dissolve more armor. Even without a permanent defense, we’ll always have what we need.

What is your experience with the number nine? Tell me in the comments or tweet me @siobhansmirror

Keep in touch

It’s my birthday today!

Birthdays are an excellent time to take stock of unquestioned beliefs. Click to read three questions I ask myself every birthday to gauge my ever-evolving beliefs. Unquestioned beliefs are a worthy opponent indeed.

Deck: Centennial Smith – Waite US Games 2013. Photo: PD. Reference: Sutherland, Jonathan. (2003). African Americans at War: An Encyclopedia, Volume 1. ABC-CLIO, Incorporated.

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  1. Beth says:

    I love the poem at the end Siobhan, especially these lines:

    One thing we must
    Make peace
    with ourselves
    with the world
    as only we can.

    That captures some of my ‘nine’ experience – this idea of being so close, yet in order to unlock the final door, move through to the ten, completion, finishing of the cycle, we have to do the hardest part of all, which is internal work. A lot like Judgement!

    I also see it as a ‘one last push’ kinda card. Keep going, you’re so close, it’s worth it… it’s an encouraging card for tired folks who are wondering if they should just give up.

    My guess for which card you’ll write about next? Hmm….Ten of Cups?

    • Siobhan says:

      ty, Beth. It’s funny you mention the ten of Cups. I will circle back around again to it, writing with Mars in mind. I thought your post for it was a perfect addition to this list. The Mary-El representation is the only one I’ve seen that has a little ‘war’ in it. *grins

  2. Alice says:

    I named my first video game character Nine, and unconsciously I had named my shadow. I wrote stories about her and I was telling stories about myself and my fears. I didn’t realize what I was doing until many years later, and I’ve also since learned that nine is my birth number. I still think about her sometimes.

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