“Formerly, when I would feel a desire to understand someone, or myself, I would take into consideration not actions, in which everything is relative, but wishes. Tell me what you want and I'll tell you who you are.” ― Anton Chekhov
There is no more auspicious card in the Tarot than the Nine of Cups. It is nicknamed the "Wish Fulfillment Card", and it features a rather contented man sitting in a semi-circle of filled cups. He wears a red cap, symbolizing his wealth and material success. His arms cross over his solar plexus. He is done with his work. Life is good for him. He has succeeded. Marcia Masino called this the "Wine, Woman, and Song Card," which I love. We see enjoyment of life's sensuality and finer aspects. This card brings good health, wealth and enjoyment.
Tarot is often not what is seems exactly. It is hard to take these beautiful cards of happiness, contentment and comfort at face value, and indeed, we shouldn't. There is more here than meets the eye. Let's talk about the numerology of Nine. This is the number of attainment. But as the Tarot often challenges us, what is one man's completion is another man's beginning. We complete school, only to move into the business world. And with this Nine, it is no different, except we are talking about the emotional suit of the Cups, and so we must delve deeper into the psyche to understand the Nine of Cups.
For most Tarot readers, the Nine of Cups is a blessing anywhere in a reading. It is a sign of good luck, good fortune. It tells the Seeker that their wishes are coming true, but like the Chinese curse--May you get what you wish for--we must talk about what our wishes are and if they are aligned with our Highest Good. AHA! And there is the rub in the Nine of Cups. It says nothing about whether your wishes are aligned with what is best for all. You may be focusing on winning the heart of Mr. So-and-So, the handsome co-worker, but he may have secrets, abusive pasts, or other skeletons in the closet. The card says, "You are getting what you wish for, now WORK ON WHAT YOU REALLY WISH FOR!" This work calls for the surrounding cards, and for our own inner wisdom. What it calls for is to align with Divine Will.
This quote by Chekhov really sums up for me what the real work of the Nine of Cups is about. "Formerly, when I would feel a desire to understand someone, or myself, I would take into consideration not actions, in which everything is relative, but wishes. Tell me what you want and I'll tell you who you are." I know this sounds trite and easy to dismiss. We often think these things apply to other people, but it is really difficult and important spiritual work to figure out what exactly you want. Let's take the example of the co-worker. Here's a handsome, knowledgeable co-worker, who is professional and kind to us in the workplace. That's a great starting place--we know he works hard, is kind and we have similar interests. But we actually don't know much about who is he. So, here we may wish for him to be interested in us, or ask us out. Maybe a better wish is to be ready for a partner, a soul mate, someone we are attracted to physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. We often don't voice that, or write the qualities we value in a partner. We often meet people and say, "Close enough. This might be my last chance at love, I better snatch it up." The real work is knowing what exactly you want in the life. This can be as specific as demeanor, values, habits...when I was manifesting my partner, I wrote a list of qualities I wanted, including going to bed early, and waking up early. Hey, I'm a morning person! I was in a long term relationship with someone who slept until noon. That is literally seven hours of my morning wasted. I love getting up and putzing around cafes, or diners, or farmer's markets. By the time I was tired and ready for bed, he was just getting his groove on. So, when this card comes for my clients, I give them homework. What is it that you want? We need to voice that clearly, eloquently, and honestly. No writing things that sound good. If you are a jealous person by nature, than a good partner for you would be someone who values your insecurities, rather than a flirty partner. No harm in asking to not compromise on that.
Whether you see this as the Law of Attraction or not, I think it is helpful to state and write out what you want. If you don't know, how will the universe know? And how will you recognize it when it gets here? The Nine of Cups begs you to be honest, authentic and do your work. Tarot often lives in this liminal land between support and forcing you to do your spiritual and emotional homework. Take our example--from switching to "I wish for Mr. So-and So" from "I wish to be ready for my partner", you are signaling Spirit that you are ready for your spiritual work. It means you are ready to do the hard work that has been preventing you from bringing in your soul mate relationship. It doesn't mean that your Twin Flame is coming NOW, but it means you are beginning the work of releasing all the blockages to a healthy, whole relationship. It is important work, unvalued in this society, but Spirit doesn't let us off easily.
So, the Nine of Cups is about your wishes, and your indulgences and ultimately, your emotional wants, and stating them. As the Nine of Cups crosses his solar plexus, this card signals that this work isn't physical, or from your will center. This is turning things over to your Higher Self, your guides, Spirit, God by tapping into your intuition, your emotional being, your Divine Feminine. Isn't that ironic? This card is NOT about your will, even though it is about your wishes. It is being receptive to your own desires, needs, and wants, rather than pushing forward into a space where your ego and superficial desires rule your will. Upper chakra work, really, or maybe it is better put--the work of Nine of Cups is an inside job. It is hard work to tap into your Intuitive side and really allow Spirit to guide your wishes to your Highest Good. My wishes are often very simple these days--Your will, not mine, be done. Because my will gets me into trouble. It is about me having an extra piece of cake, or chasing the wrong handsome partner after the other, or driving fast because I am late, or taking a job that pays a ton of money, but leaves me spent with no time for self-care.
In the Reversed position, the Nine of Cups can signal overindulgence in material things, carnal delights and the sensual pleasures of eating too much, drinking too much, smoking too much, sexing too much...think Gluttony and Greed. Like I said, the Nine of Cups is a blessing anywhere in your reading, so this reversed thing really is a reminder to watch it. Don't overindulge, just enjoy your life, and may you wish for what you already have.