Nine of Wands – Tarot Card Meaning

Nine of Wands

Mutable fire

Moon in Sagittarius

December 3 to December 12

Qabalah: Yesod. Foundation

Keywords: courage, health, survival, defenses up, ready, determined, strong, standing your ground

In the Fool’s Journey through the Tree of Life, the Moon is the foundational counterpoint to the positive force of the Sun. The Moon provides the primordial stuff out of which the energy of the Sun crystallizes into the material world we experience.

In the Nine of Wands we see this modulation of the Sun’s force by means of the Moon as a position of stratified strength. But the strata are constantly shifting and being re-articulated as the Sun continues to pour out energy.


In the Waite-Smith, we see a toughened soldier, experienced in battle, standing strong with his many wands of defense. Because Sagittarius is a steadfast Archer with fiery energy, these defensive wands or strata are continuously generated from the boundless potential of the Moon and the wounds of microcosmic battle are constantly stitched up and made whole in a process of rejuvenation.

The strength of the Nine of Wands is akin to the newfound strength of a bone after it has been broken and fused together again.

 The soldier represents someone who has been tested and who nevertheless stands strong. His boots are green, suggesting the his strength comes from rootedness into Earth.

He has a wound on his head, but it’s important to realize that wounds heal. The body is incredible at healing itself.

But what if the wound is a psychic wound? Do not those scars of trauma restrict our potential for wholeness? Yes, trauma is indeed a restriction. It impacts how we process everything. And not all trauma fully heals; sometimes the best we can do is live with it.

Yet, the lesson from the Nine of Wands is that we can live with our trauma with great strength and dignity. Having wounds, having scars does not make us thereby weak. Far from it: the wounds of experiences strengthen us.

While it is nowadays a cliche and abused phrase, Nietzsche’s aphorism that “What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger” has a certain truth to it that is critical for understanding the Nine of Wands.

So long as we are still alive, still pulsing with the desires and strength of life itself, we have the opportunity to grow stronger. Every experience is an opportunity for growth, mental or otherwise. Failure to learn from experience cuts you off from the most powerful mechanism of internal development.

So if you are faced with an opportunity or decision, and you know it will be tough and you will fail, do not let that possibility scare you off, so long as there is an option to pick yourself up and try again, with accumulated knowledge and experience.

Thoth – Strength

Nine of Wands Thoth

In the Thoth Tarot, we see eight wands crisscrossed. The wands are arrows and on each end are moons. The arrow is a symbol of Sagittarius or Chiron, the divine centaur who carried a bow.

In the center of the crisscrossed wands is a larger arrow that has the Sun at the top and the Moon on the bottom.

This represents the pathway of Sagittarius on the Tree of Life, where the divine Hunter is in the 9th Sephiroth, Yesod, the Moon, and shoots his arrow upwards into Tiphareth, the Sun.

In other words, the 9 of wands represents a path in the Middle Pillar ritual, where the goal is to go from Malkuth, Earth, and progress upwards in a balanced and harmonious way up towards the divine union with Kether, Oneness.

Sagittarius represents the path from Yesod to Tiphareth and like Temperance or Art, it represents the alchemical process of balance masculine and feminine energy to achieve the harmony of Christ-like enlightenment.

Crowley says, “This card is referred to Yesod, the Foundation; this brings the Energy back into balance. The Nine represents always the fullest development of the Force in its relation with the Forces above it. The Nine may be considered as the best that can be obtained from the type involved, regarded from a practical and material standpoint.”

Astrologically the card is Moon in Sagittarius, and Yesod, the 9th Sephiroth, is ruled by the Moon. Symbolically, this double-moon influence represents great change since the Moon is the most active and changing “planet” in the sky, completing its monthly cycle in 28 days.

Nevertheless, the Nine of Wands, as Yesod, is perfectly balanced between the masculine and feminine pillars, and thus Crowley refers to the aphorism “Change is Stability.”

Like a swirling whirlpool, the rapid change of the Lunar forces can coalesce into a stable structure or formation: the vortex. In the case of the Nine of Wands, this is a stable vortex of Fire.

From Book T – The Lord of Great Strength

Four hands, as in the previous symbol, holding eight wands crossed four and four; but a fifth hand at the foot of the card holds another wand upright, which traverses the point of junction with the others: flames leap herefrom. Above and below are the symbols Moon and Sagittarius.

Tremendous and steady force that cannot be shaken. Herculean strength, yet sometimes scientifically applied. Great success, but with strife and energy. Victory, preceded by apprehension and fear. Health good, and recovery not in doubt. Generous, questioning and curious; fond of external appearances: intractable, obstinate.

Yesod of HB:Y (Strength, power, health, recovery from sickness).


Related Links

Tarot and Qabalah: A Guide

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