December 2018 Tarot Card Astrology: Nine of Wands
In this series on tarot card astrology, I’m highlighting cards whose planetary correspondences are currently being played out in the heavens above. Not only will we see the Moon pass through the second decan of Sagittarius this month (fortuitously on the new moon!) as exemplified in the Nine of Wands, but also Mars will enter the third decan of Pisces, the tarot’s Ten of Cups. I’ll also write on the Ten of Wands, which corresponds to the calendar dates of December 12-21 this year. Be sure to check out all the articles, upcoming and past, on tarot card astrology.
- Nine of Wands: Moon in Sagittarius – Today’s post!
- Ten of Wands: Saturn in Sagittarius – Thursday, November 29, 2018
- Ten of Cups: Mars in Pisces – Wednesday, December 5, 2018
- Meditations on the Ten of Cups – Sunday, December 16, 2018
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Nine of Wands: Moon in Sagittarius
- The Nine of Wands is titled “The Lord of Great Strength” and often signifies endurance, perseverance, staying strong after a difficult fight, holding your ground, or establishing safe and healthy boundaries
- The Moon is associated with the yin quality, and governs emotions, intuition, the internal, self-reflection, the unconscious, receptivity, the soul, and the mother
- Sagittarius is a mutable fire sign ruled by Jupiter and expresses qualities such as exploration, philosophy, enthusiasm, and far-seeing vision. Its symbol is the archer and its glyph is an arrow.
- Nine of Wands: Moon Ruling the Second Decan of Sagittarius
- The Moon will pass through the second decan of Sagittarius from Thursday, December 6, 3 p.m. through Friday, December 7, 9:30 a.m.
- Best times for ritual work: Night owls can celebrate the New Moon twenty minutes after midnight Mountain time on Friday, December 7, 2018, and then wait for the planetary hour of the moon from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. (technically, 12:59-2:12 a.m.) MST to perform their ritual. This is the hour of the Moon on the day of Jupiter and starts less than an hour after the exact time of the new moon. Second choice would be Friday, December 7, 8:36 a.m. to 9:24 a.m., the planetary hour of the moon on the day of Venus.
Moon in Sagittarius
The Moon embodies our emotions, intuition, and the private part of us that we prefer to reserve for those we feel closest to. When placed in the sign of the Archer, our emotions are tinged with the Sagittarian filter of excitement and enthusiasm, while our moody musings morph into long-range, high-flying dreams. Our emotions yearn and aspire in this sign more than any other. The Moon might meditate into placid stillness, but the centaur kicks up the dust as he gallops off to unexplored lands. Intuition is sharp and fast with pinpoint accuracy. When Moon in Sagittarius intuits something, it recognizes both the immediate truth as well as the far-flung repercussions in one dizzying instant of psychic insight.
Image of the Nine of Wands
The Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) image of the Nine of Wands shows a man with his head bandaged holding a staff, eight additional staffs behind him in a row. It might seem that he is cowering because his head is sunk into his shoulders. This is belied by his jutting chin, which is set in a stubborn, just-you-try-it-and-see attitude. He’s experienced the challenge of an ordeal, but has come through it strong and ready to go again if someone is foolish enough to re-engage him.
Seeing the Nine of Wands with New Eyes
Once I was talking with a young man who had no tarot experience. My Robin Wood deck was sitting out on a shelf next to him. Noticing it, he idly picked it up and started looking through it. He pulled out the Nine of Wands and asked me what it meant. I asked what he saw in it, prodding: “What do the wands look like?” In the Robin Wood deck the wands are all topped with light diffusing crystals. “Flowers,” he said. No one had previously described the imagery this way; they almost always say the wands look like a fence. I encouraged him to describe the character in the scene. After he did, I returned to the original question, thinking he would now recognize that the wands enclose and protect the character. Again, he said they looked like flowers.
I considered for a moment, then realized the implication of his insight. The Nine of Wands is not only about drawing a line in the sand. Whereas I had always seen the wands as a high security fence, he saw them as a row of flowers. Suddenly my vision permuted into an inviting white picket fence edged with cheery flowers and a gate that perpetually swung half open. The card is not about barriers. It’s about boundaries. Is your perimeter bolted and padlocked so no one can get in? Or are your limits non-existent so everyone runs roughshod over you? Or do you have a friendly, welcoming border of flowers indicating clearly where your territory begins, but beckoning friends to approach?
Title of the Nine of Wands: Great Strength
The Golden Dawn title for the Nine of Wands is “Lord of Great Strength.” This is the power that derives from not giving up, from holding your ground even after you’ve been attacked and hurt. The character demonstrates the uncompromising perseverance that insists you return to the battle before the wounds have healed.
The Astrology of the Nine of Wands
The Moon shows us where we feel at home. Sagittarius explores far and wide. The Nine of Wands: Moon in Sagittarius digs in her heels to create a homey nest wherever the adventure takes her. The Moon in Sagittarius inspires me to make my home in unusual places. I climb up to tree houses, pitch a tent on camping trips, curl up comfy in my car while taking a rest from a road trip. The Moon demands safety and security. To this end, she sets the Sagittarian sentinel to guard her wherever she wanders, whether from castle to cave.
The Moon rules the middle third of Sagittarius, the fixed portion of this mutable sign. The mutability of the sign necessitates change, the fixed decan does this through settled steadfastness. It invites a fight by simply standing there. A case in point would be political sit-ins. The philosophical idealism of Sagittarius under the leadership of a hunkered down Moon reminds me of the political protests students engaged in when I was in college, building and living in shanty towns. More recently, the camps of the Occupy movement planted their flags in parks and public places, making temporary homes into high profile protests. Moon in Sagittarius can produce an engaged and directed homelessness.
Mythology of the Nine of Wands
I recently read The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller and not long after re-watched the 2004 film Troy on Netflix. Consequently, the first thing that came to mind for the mythology of the Nine of Wands is the decade-long siege of Troy. The Greeks sailed over a thousand ships to the shores of Ilium. Once there they set up camp and engaged in routine skirmishes, punching the clock on a slow, evenly balanced war. They lived their lives and made this foreign land their home, the epitome of the Moon in Sagittarius. The story of the Iliad ends with no definitive win. The Nine of Wands effectively illustrates the marked determination of the patient Greek invaders, holding their ground year after year with no clear advantage.
Ritual Work for Nine of Wands: Moon in Second Decan of Sagittarius
If you’d like to find your home in a foreign land, develop your perseverance, or create safe and healthy boundaries, you might use ritual to connect with the energies of the Nine of Wands. The Moon moves through the zodiac once every month, so you can find Luna placed here on a regular basis. However, this month we have a bonus — a New Moon in the second decan of Sagittarius. What a great opportunity to double the potency of this energy!
If you tend to keep lunar hours, the best time for this ritual is just after midnight, the early morning of Friday, December 7, 2018 (we’re talking stay up late Thursday night), during the planetary hour of the moon from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. (technically, 12:59-2:12 a.m.) MST. This is the hour of the Moon on the day of Jupiter and starts less than an hour after the exact time of the new moon. If you don’t want to set an alarm, second choice would be Friday, December 7, 8:36 a.m. to 9:24 a.m., the planetary hour of the moon on the day of Venus.
As always, remember to review all the details of the ritual ahead of time and gather your supplies so you can get started as soon as the planetary hour rolls around.
Lunar Hymn or Prayer
Choose any lunar deity you’d like to work with and research or compose a hymn or prayer inviting them to join and bless your ritual. For the Moon in Sagittarius, I like the Orphic Hymn, which describes Selene as a lover of horses. If you’d like some other suggestions for traditional invocations, please see the “Lunar Hymn or Prayer” heading of the Four of Cups post.
Hear, Goddess queen, diffusing silver light, bull-horn’d and wand’ring thro’ the gloom of Night.
With stars surrounded, and with circuit wide Night’s torch extending, thro’ the heav’ns you ride:
Female and Male with borrow’d rays you shine, and now full-orb’d, now tending to decline.
Mother of ages, fruit-producing Moon, whose amber orb makes Night’s reflected noon:
Lover of horses, splendid, queen of Night, all-seeing pow’r bedeck’d with starry light.
Lover of vigilance, the foe of strife, in peace rejoicing, and a prudent life:
Fair lamp of Night, its ornament and friend, who giv’st to Nature’s works their destin’d end.
Queen of the stars, all-wife Diana hail! Deck’d with a graceful robe and shining veil;
Come, blessed Goddess, prudent, starry, bright, come moony-lamp with chaste and splendid light,
Shine on these sacred rites with prosp’rous rays, and pleas’d accept thy suppliant’s mystic praise.
Statement of Intention
The Statement of Intention is the goal you’d like to achieve from the performance of the ritual. This can be expressed as a spiritual, mental, emotional, or practical objective. I base my statement of intention on the tarot card, but also let the astrological correspondences inform my choice. I sometimes develop the Statement of Intention ahead of time and write it out to be read during the ritual. On the other hand, sometimes I let the energy of the ritual and the invocation of the planetary influence prepare the space for me to realize my intention during the ritual. If you’re not sure, it’s preferable to write something ahead of time. You can always change it if you’re inspired during the ritual.
I tend to phrase my Statement of Intention as a request to the planet I’m working with. Some examples might be:
- Help me find my home in this foreign land
- Let me persevere in my chosen task
- Guide me in creating safe and healthy boundaries
On this day at this hour, Radiant Selene is visiting the middle portion of Sagittarius, the sign of the Archer, riding through the decan that she rules. I ask you, All-Shining Moon, to: __________________ (use your statement of intention).
A simple altar is as effective as a fancy one. I like to use at least a candle, incense, and a symbol for the planet I’m working with. These tools have energetic as well as symbolic importance. But there’s an artful magic to finding exactly what you need within arm’s reach of a rock altar in the backyard or under a tree not far off the hiking trail. Indoor altars can be any clear space and a clear intention. If you’re a little more theatrical, here’s a list of possible props to include in your ceremony. Feel free to substitute as needed, choosing items that reflect the qualities of the Moon and/or Sagittarius. Alternately choose any items that express the essence of your intention.
- Small table (one of those folding TV trays works great in a pinch) or clear area on a shelf to set up the altar
- White or silver (Moon colors) cloth to cover the altar
- Lunar incense such as jasmine, mugwort, or sandalwood
- White or silver candle (Moon colors), also additional candles for general illumination
- Nine of Wands tarot card
- Orphic hymn to Selene (or appropriate prayer of your choice) printed or written on index cards
- Your statement of intention for the ritual, printed or written on an index card
- Coins or stones or other counters to mark repetitions of prayers and intentions
- A silver chalice or any lunar symbol, such as a crescent
- Stones such as quartz point, selenite, pearl, and/or moonstone
- Other lunar symbols, including photos or art of the moon, Moon goddesses; personal items that remind you of your intention
- Lunar beverage: I like using a jasmine green tea; also consider milk, spring water
- Lunar food: Anything spiced or flavored with moon-ruled plants, herbs, or spices, or having a lunar shape or color. Consider crescent rolls, a banana, or a lemon poppyseed muffin.
- Clothing and accessories: wear something white and/or wear lunar jewelry such as crescent moons, anything made of silver, pearls, moonstones, quartz crystals, etc.
It’s best to prepare ahead of time. If however, you find yourself awake after midnight during the wee hours of the morning of Friday, December 7, 2018 or any other time the Moon is in the second decan of Sagittarius, feel free to improvise as necessary and say your prayers and intentions extempore.
You might notice I’ve updated this from the previous published versions. If you’ve worked with my earlier editions of this, please note the changes.
- Set up a basic altar. On a table or clear area of a shelf, place your appropriately colored altar cloth, candle, and lunar incense. You can also include any other Moon related symbols or decorations that will help you connect with the lunar energies.
- Have on hand your prayer or hymn, your Nine of Wands tarot card, your statement of intention, and a printout of these ritual instructions or your own notes for your ritual.
- Light the candle(s)
- Find a comfortable seated position (standing works depending on how long your ritual is) at your altar. Ground and center yourself, perhaps using the fourfold breath.
- Light the incense.
- Read the prayer or hymn that you chose nine times (nine is the number of Yesod, the sphere of the Moon on the Tree of Life). You can use nine coins, stones, or other counters to keep track, moving one from a “to-do” pile to a “done” pile with each reading. Feel a deep connection to the Moon, remaining fully present and aware of the Moon during each recitation, and taking a moment in between to feel the lunar energies.
- Repeat the name of the Deity, such as “Selene,” to fully call them to presence. Traditionally this is done three times, but nine times would be an appropriate number for this ritual. Alternately, you can use the God Name of the corresponding sephirah on the Tree of Life. In this case the God Name of Yesod is “Shaddai El Chai” (Almighty Living God).
- Next you’ll focus this increased awareness of lunar energy by turning your attention to the Nine of Wands tarot card. Meditate on it briefly, becoming immersed in the scene.
- Read your statement of intention nine times (the number of the card), asking Luna (or Selene, or Artemis, or whichever lunar god or goddess you have chosen to work with) to assist you with your intention.
- Sit with the invoked energies at this time. A useful way to direct the energies is in any magical operation or by performing a divination. Consider using my “Agrippa Tarot Spread” from this post.
- It is then necessary to ground the energy. You can kneel down and touch the ground with your hands, or place your forehead and hands, palms flat, against the altar. See and feel any excess energy sinking into the earth. You can follow this with eating and drinking (give preference to lunar beverages and food), a traditional technique for grounding.
- You can leave your altar out and return to your intention whenever the Moon is in the second decan of Sagittarius, or you can put everything away.
If you have any question about this ritual, please leave them in the comments! I’d also love for you to share your experiences with this practice in the comments.
Upcoming Tarot Card Astrology posts for Sagittarius:
Ten of Wands, to be published on Wednesday, November 28, 2018
- Ten of Wands: Saturn Ruling the Third Decan of Sagittarius
- Saturn will not be in Sagittarius again until 2044. It will enter the third decan of Sagittarius in 2046 and stay there during the first and last quarters of the year. Due to a retrograde period, it will back into the second decan for the middle half of the year. So we’re going to work with the Sun passing through this decan of the zodiac, which it does starting Tuesday, December 11, 2018, 8 p.m. through December 21, 3 p.m.
- Best time for ritual work: Saturday, December 15, 2018 at dawn
Ten of Cups, to be published on Wednesday, December 5, 2018
- Ten of Cups: Mars Ruling the Third Decan of Pisces
- Mars will pass through the third decan of Pisces from Sunday, December 16, 2018, 8 p.m. through Monday, December 31, 2018, 7:20 p.m.
- Best times for ritual work: Tuesday, December 18 and Tuesday, December 25. I like Christmas Day better because the aspects are more supportive. December 18 places Mars square to the Sun. However, December 25 has no hard aspects to Mars and in fact highlights a lovely reception with Venus. I prefer the planetary hour of Mars in the evening (7:05-8:17 p.m.) to the one at dawn (7:15-8:00 a.m.).
Joy Vernon is widely recognized by tarot professionals as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup has grown into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher at Isis Books. To learn more, please visit JoyVernon.com.