April 2019 Tarot Card Astrology: Nine of Swords
The tarot’s Nine of Swords: Mars in Gemini will be played out in the heavens between tax day, April 15, and the end of the month. At this time Mars passes through the middle portion of the sign of Gemini. Although common associations for the Nine of Swords are sleeplessness, anxiety, and worry, Mars increases the static of these mental states producing feelings of frustration and despair. However, an in-depth analysis of the astrological associations of the card produces surprising new interpretations. Be sure to check out all the articles on tarot card astrology. If you’d like to subscribe and receive a notification whenever I publish a new post, please submit your email address in the form at the top right of this page and click “Subscribe.”
Nine of Swords: Mars in Gemini
- The Nine of Swords is titled “Lord of Despair and Cruelty.” The card’s most common significations are sleeplessness, bad dreams, anxiety, worry, and despair. It can indicate the things that keep you up at night or that are hanging over your head.
- Mars is the warrior and expresses qualities such as passion, excitement, desire, ambition, anger, and a willingness to fight for what is right. It is our energy and vigor. Mars rules Aries and Scorpio and is exalted in Capricorn.
- Gemini is a mutable air sign ruled by Mercury. It is considered social, loquacious, adaptable, witty, quick-thinking, and mercurial. Its symbol is the twins. Its glyph looks like the Roman numeral II.
- Nine of Swords: Mars ruling the second decan of Gemini
- The calendar dates, when the Sun passes through this decan each year, are approximately June 1-10.
- Mars will move through the middle portion of the sign of Gemini during the two week period from 4-15-19 at 4 a.m. to 4-30-19 at 10 a.m.
- Best times for ritual work:
- Tuesdays, April 16 or 23, around 9:30 p.m. Although the simplicity of the day of Mars and hour of Mars can overrule more complex astrological configurations, each of the three Tuesdays in our time period, April 16, 23, and 30, has problems worth considering. April 16 there is a challenging T-square between the Moon in Virgo and Neptune in Pisces. Then Mars is applying to an opposition with a retrograde Jupiter in Sagittarius, becoming more intense by the end of the month. This is exacerbated by the square to Neptune in Pisces. Watch for it to get emotional when the Moon conjoins Jupiter on April 23 just before sunrise. We’ll repeat some of those energies on April 30 also around sunrise with the Moon conjoining Neptune and squaring Mars. Due to the Moon moving quickly, the intensity of these will drop later in the day, so using the evening hour of Mars might do the trick, which also produces a Mars-ruled Scorpio ascendant and cools off Mars’s intensity with a night chart.
- Generally, April 17 through 30. Mercury is in a mutual reception with Mars, each one passing through the other’s sign of rulership and while joined by a sextile aspect. This mutual reception begins when Mercury enters Aries on April 17, through April 30 when Mars’s sojourn in the middle decan of Gemini ends, and then until Mercury enters Taurus on May 6. My first choice for working with Mars during this time would be when the Moon in Aquarius trines Mars in Gemini, and Mercury forms a bisextile aspect to those two planets from the middle of Aries.
- Specifically, April 27, 5 a.m. For early risers, doing planetary work around 5 a.m. April 27 gives an Aries ascendant ruled by Mars in the third house in a night chart, with the Moon applying to a sextile with Mercury, who in turn is in mutual reception with Mars. This would be useful for invigorating your communications, writing comedy (Mars in Gemini is funny), high energy writing in general, or editing (Mars likes to cut), or performing fast and/or dexterous work.
- Remember that Mars can be challenging to work with, so if you haven’t yet had an introduction to him, start with a basic getting-to-know you ritual. The candle magic ritual with color breathing can be adapted to this decan.
Mars in Gemini
Mars, the warrior planet, represents our energy, vigor, motivation, and urge to fight. Gemini is a sociable, chatty, curious, and easily adaptable sign. Although Mars might seem too direct and aggressive for a friendly sign, he can bring excitement and charisma to this placement. Mercury-ruled Gemini is associated with our thinking and communication style. The forceful personality of Mars results in speech that is commanding and inspirational, or that can suffer from condescending officiousness.
Gemini the Twins rules pairs in the body: the lungs, shoulders, arms, and hands. Mars rules the muscles and in palmistry is associated with the center of the palm, where the weapon is grasped. Mars brings a warrior’s concentration to Gemini’s sensitive dexterity. Dual wielding weapons, which would require not only ambidexterity but also the ability to maintain a clear split focus, would be a Mars in Gemini skill. An everyday expression of this talent would be any type of work that involves manual dexterity, intense focus, and the use of both hands together or in alteration. Knitting comes to mind, as well as many types of craftwork and construction. Likewise, a further example might be typing as opposed to writing by hand. Mars influences us to set goals and take actions in these areas of craftiness. Wherever Mars goes, he insists, “Just Do It.”
During much of the time that Mars is in Gemini, he is in a supportive mutual reception with Mercury. That means that while Mars is in Mercury’s sign, Mercury is in Mars’s home sign of Aries, and that the two planets are in a major aspect, in this case a friendly sextile. The common metaphor is that the two planets are house-sitting for each other as an expression of trust and cooperation. Mercury, when expressing himself in an Aries manner, has many of the same qualities of Mars seen through the Gemini filter. While relating in this open-hearted manner, Mercury finds the freedom to turn up the volume while Mars experiments with honing his people skills. They inspire each other and keep each other on track. The even-handedness of the exchange allows Mercury to be more socially aggressive in a way that feels exciting and adventurous rather than domineering. Meanwhile, Mars discovers the mind-expanding thrill of two-way exchange as he discovers the benefit of stopping his harangue long enough to listen to others.
Image of the Nine of Swords
The character in the image of the Nine of Swords sits straight upright in bed, head in hands. A quilt with alternating squares of applique roses and embroidered astrological and planetary glyphs is folded back across the lap of the grieving one. The pitch black background sets our scene in the dim cold of night. Nine swords overlapping at the hilts hang horizontal above the bed, like a cutting jalousie.
Curiously, one glyph is missing from the embroidered squares: that of the goddess of love, Venus. And yet not missing, but rather in overabundance, as the appliqued roses take on the shape of that sigil. Not only is a rose a common symbol of love and of the planet of pleasure and beauty, but that symbol appears in two other cards in the tarot deck: the Empress and the Nine of Coins, both associated with the dreamy morning and evening star. The Nine of Pentacles shows a lovely woman alone in a comfortable garden. Mars, the ruler of this card, separates, while Venus brings together. Could this person be mourning a separation from the character in the Nine of Pentacles?
To me, the astrological bedspread references the birth chart, and the emotional turmoil is an indicator of the birth trauma. Birth trauma is the pain felt at birth when the child is separated, literally cut away from, the mother. Waking in a cold, isolated world, the newborn screams its despair. Each of us carries this experience with us through our lives. Every experience of separation returns us to this initial state of exile. The nines in the tarot can indicate the traditional nine months of human gestation, each nine representing one of the mutable signs, moving away from the fixed and enduring paradise of gestation and transitioning into the cardinal growth toward independence.
The Title of the Nine of Swords: Despair and Cruelty
The Golden Dawn title of the card, “Lord of Despair and Cruelty,” is perhaps one of the more negative card titles. However, an accurate interpretation of angry, fighting Mars in communicative Gemini would be hurtful words, cruel teasing, and verbal harassment. In an age where the ease of communication has increased due to technology while the immediacy of attacker and victim standing face to face is removed, this card is a necessary representation of cyber-bullying. But throughout the ages it stands in for the experience of the hopelessness that comes from slander, ridicule, belittling, and lies.
The Astrology of the Nine of Swords: Mars in Gemini
I have always found Mars in Gemini to be an indicator of humor, particularly biting insight, cutting satire, and on-point jabs. This lightens up much of the Mars intensity previously discussed. Many people cover their faces when laughing, especially in those situations where they are responding to inappropriate jokes. I’d love to see an image of this character in which it’s unclear as to whether they are laughing or crying.
About a year ago my beginning tarot students were practicing readings. We had an odd number in class that day, so I had to sit in as a querent. I asked about an upcoming talk I was scheduled to do on the ho-hum topic of the history of tarot. One of the cards pulled was the Nine of Swords. The student suggested I was worried about the talk or that I felt it hanging over my head. A valid interpretation, except that I wasn’t and didn’t. After discussing it, we came up with another valid interpretation, also appropriate to me, that since I work best under pressure, it was likely that I would put off preparing the speech and stay up late the night before to get it done. Could be. But it still didn’t feel right. As I went through the week contemplating it, I realized that my goal was to rush through the boring info quickly so I could open up a group discussion of card images. The event was taking place at a brewery, and I wanted it to be fun. The Nine of Swords inspired me to lighten up and add some humor to the talk. The event was for Atlas Obscura, a group dedicated to discovering unusual places when traveling. Meanwhile, as I was preparing (not at the last minute), I discovered an example of a historical deck that substituted Bacchus, the god of wine, for the Pope card! Everything came together: my talk should be a drinking game. Every time I said a place name (and isn’t history full of place names?), I encouraged the audience to lift their pint glasses and toast the god with a rousing, “Bacchus!” I had a full house, a very engaged audience, and we all had a lot of fun. I couldn’t have done it without the encouragement of Mars the risk-taker in wise-cracking Gemini.
Mars in Gemini can be cruel, and Mars in Gemini can be jocular, but the most fully realized expression of Mars in Gemini combines the inspiration and ambition of Mars with the eloquence of Gemini: the motivational speaker, the teller of stories of derring-do, and the galvanizing captain. Yet, certainly the image does not express those qualities. Or does it? Celtic bards were known for their epic adventures, phenomenal memory, strict discipline, and ability to arouse and engage the imagination of their audience. These bards developed their work in an unusual way. They were asked to lie on their beds in darkness with their eyes covered. The entire story, all in verse, was created in the mind and committed to memory. It was only written down, if at all, after it was complete. Mars rules the middle, fixed portion of the mutable sign of Gemini. Mars in this decan craves the immutable glory of everlasting renown. Mars insists that his story is told again and again, reliving every blow of the battle, every doubt and despair, every cruel retaliation, and every savor of victory. Mars the warrior lives the tale. However, it is the Gemini bard who plays it over and over, sustaining the never-ending adventure with each new audience. The Nine of Swords: Mars in Gemini composes in darkness the glorious eternity of the chronicle of victory.
Mythology of the Nine of Swords
Every story of battle has the moment of despair, the falling feeling in the gut that warns: all is lost. We love the underdog because we thrive on the excitement of the upset as the almost-loser rallies, saving the day at the last moment. But in every one of these stories there is a leader, a captain, a coach who says just what the team needs to hear. He inspires them to fight against unfair odds. This captain is the expression of Mars in Gemini. Perhaps the most famous of these motivational speeches is the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Shakespeare’s history, Henry V. The young king is leading exhausted troops into an absurdly imbalanced battle, with practically no hope for success. Yet by invoking the warrior’s honor (Mars) and the bonds of brotherhood (the Gemini twins), he leads them to an astonishing victory in which 10,000 French were wounded or killed and fewer than 30 English troops were hurt. The main argument of the speech inspires by proposing that there will be a tale to recount year after year. King Henry says that annually at the feast of St. Crispin, everyone who survives this battle will show their scars and share the story of how they got them. Like the bard, he immortalizes his soldiers: their names will not be forgotten.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
Ritual for Nine of Swords: Mars in the Second Decan of Gemini
Spending time getting to know Mars via the color breathing meditation is a good practice to use in the days leading up to doing a specific Mars working. A Mars candle magic ritual has previously been outlined, and can be adapted for Mars in Gemini and the Nine of Swords tarot card.
Statement of Intention for Nine of Swords: Mars in Gemini
Use the following suggested magical intentions in your planetary workings for the Nine of Swords and Mars in Gemini or let these inspire your own unique affirmations or petitions.
- Help me to connect with mental excitement and allocate time for its productive use
- Let me release despair and worry by showing me what goals they ask me to achieve
- Show me how to lighten my pain through laughter
- Grant me the strength and clarity to let go of what no longer serves me
- Help me use this darkness to compose the tale of my victory
- Remind me that the depth of my despair reflects the longevity of my honor when I achieve victory
Upcoming Tarot Card Astrology
The New Moon in Taurus on May 4 will be in the Moon-ruled second decan of Taurus, the tarot’s Six of Pentacles card. Mercury will enter the first decan of Taurus, the Five of Pentacles around 1 p.m., May 6, 2019 to be followed later that night by Venus moving into Aries 3, the Four of Wands. Watch for upcoming articles on these cards!
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.