Drunk Izzy Explains the Tarot continues, with the Seven of Pentacles: someone growing pentacles, either on a tree or a bush, and harvesting them. In addition to the mnemonic “good luck with earth things” meaning, the Seven means hard work rewarded, fruitful harvest, and all the parts of the Little House books where the crops don’t get destroyed by hail and grasshoppers. Material success and corn for everyone!
Another possible meaning here is the fruits of past actions, for good or ill: the old saying about reaping what you sow. If you planted peaches, you are going to get peaches. That’s how this works. Extend metaphor appropriately.
So okay. I’m not sure how much this will hold true with the other suits, but so far, after the Ace, we have people doing things to pentacles: juggling them, making them, hoarding them, giving/taking/trading them, growing them, and now making them again, but more so: the Eight of Pentacles shows another person making pentacles, but this one is a youth working alone.
This is a card about the journey from apprenticeship to mastery. In the mnemonic system, it’s a challenge regarding things of the earth, one that you can absolutely master if you want–if the three is “more Pentacle Stuff,” this is “new and harder Pentacle Stuff.” It also has overtones of going it alone for the first time, applying the learning that you might have gotten from all the cards between three and eight, and hard work. This task ahead of you is going to take all your skills, but if you do it right, you and other people will be totally sure of those skills.
Nine of Pentacles builds on that sureness in both good and bad ways. The central figure here isn’t doing anything to the pentacles any more–not even looking at them. They’re in a garden around the person (there’s pretty much always just the one person), who is, in turn, looking at an animal–often a bird, sometimes a cat, a tiger in one deck because fuck it tigers are great–or out at the reader.
The nine is what happens when you’re so good at a thing that it becomes just another part of your world. That can be great, especially where things of the earth are concerned: nobody’s going to argue that not having to worry about where your next meal’s coming from, or how long you can pay the rent, are bad things. (Well, nobody who isn’t an asshole.) Having enough sex, health, money, and so forth are terrific.
That said, the nine is also a reminder not to take these things for granted, and not to let them become a prison. In some ways, it’s a minor and more pleasant version of the Devil: there’s usually no path forward, and often hedges or closed gates appear. Don’t cling so tightly to what you have that you forget what you want, or what other people don’t have; conversely, don’t take what you have so much for granted that you forget how fortunate you are to have it.
The animal can be a reminded of the wilderness, but to me it always seems more like a reminder that there’s a bigger world out there–you may have to, or choose to, stay in this garden, but that doesn’t make everything else disappear.
Mnemonically, the nine of pentacles means that you have plenty of earth stuff, but that’s not enough. Either it’s the wrong type for you, or you need just a little more, or some other element is necessary to get where you want to go–or, in a more positive spin, you have plenty of earth stuff, but that’s not what your life is all about.
I have books! They appear on Amazon, B&N, the Sourcebooks site, Powell’s, and possibly elsewhere. Most of them have sex; most of them have dragons; pretty much all of them have occult weirdness of one sort or another. If you like that sort of thing, they might be the sort of thing you like.