Oh hey I moved and then fucked off to Pennsylvania and finished the first draft of a novel and am now sitting on my parents’ couch drinking a G&T plus lemoncello. Logically I believe I’m now immune to malaria AND scurvy, TAKE THAT 1800s MARITIME DISEASES.
So let’s talk about the Nine of Wands. This card has a person holding on to one wand, with eight more of the fuckers around them. They do not look happy. Usually they’re wounded, often on the face. Sometimes they’re David Bowie and a lion, but that’s the Cosmic Tarot and it’s weird and IDK why everyone gets so damn obsessed with lions in Tarot, like there are at least two decks where they pop up gratuitously and that’s not even counting Strength. Happens in Biblical stuff too. It’s a big cat and the males have extra hair and are cub-murdering assholes, I don’t get the mystikal allure.
Mnemonically, this is about having a whole bunch of passion and willpower and relationships and stuff, but that’s not entirely what you need, or want, which corresponds nicely with my view of human relationships: they’re great and all, but when you have a whole lot of social stuff going on and/or a whole lot that you care about and/or are very determined, it can be An Entire Thing wherein suddenly you’re disguising yourself as a waiter and trying to win the bowling tournament on the same night as your anniversary. Or, if you’re not Fred Flintstone, you’re booked solid every damn night and you need to lie the hell down and take a nap already.
That one wand the person is holding–is that for support? Was it blocking the way, with the other way, and the person has picked it up to move it out of the way? Hard to say. Depends on context. One interpretation of the Nine is hope and determination in the face of adversity, pushing forward because the worst is behind you, but another is the need to be cautious and watchful. Those two things are not entirely incompatible, though: maybe you’re pretty close to getting The Thing, but you only have so much energy left, and you need to be careful not to spend it on things you don’t really want.
Know your goals, says the Nine. Figure them out if you don’t. Then tell everything else to piss off and go for it.
The Ten of Wands shows someone carrying ten wands, all by themselves: no buddy, no horse, nothing. This is a shit-ton of wands, technically speaking, and as one might think, it’s pretty clear that they’re heavy. The person carrying them is usually bent over a little, arms wrapped around the whole bundle. Having recently moved boxes up and down a ton of stairs, I sympathize. Not too far in the distance, there are a couple houses that the person’s heading toward.
Okay. You have all the fire: all the passion, all the will, all the relationships. Yay! Now what the hell do you do with them? As with the Nine, that much fire stuff is A Lot of Fire Stuff, but in the Ten, it’s more under control. You’ve got your arms around them, you’ve got them off the ground, you’re making progress, and the destination isn’t too far away–you just have to get there. And then you have to deal with whatever you’re going to do with ten wands–if it’s fire, are you planning a celebratory bonfire, or a smith’s forge, or a pyre for your enemies? Some of these things last longer than the others, some are more creative or destructive, some involve other suits. None of them are bad, or invalid, but, as with the Nine, this is a situation where it’s really important to know what you’re doing.
Now that we’re on the fourth suit, it’s worth noting that the Cups and Pentacles tens are situations that could last–metaphorically, though people move and kids grow up and all that, they’re both settled, happy families, not going anywhere–while the Ten of Swords hopefully won’t, because ouch, and the Ten of Wands clearly won’t. The figure on it is going somewhere. Fire is the most transient element: air might be fickle in terms of where it’s going and when and how strong, but it stays air, left to itself. Fire, left to itself, spreads as much as it can and then burns itself out.
And so the specific meanings of the Ten vary from “holy shit, this is a lot” to a “harvest home: you’ve done what you need to do, now you just need to try a little longer and you can relax and enjoy it” sort of a thing. I think all of them center around the question of what success means and what you do with it, because the Ten of Wands is going to become another card. Passion and will and bonds are all temporary things–there’s a reason the polyam community uses New Relationship Energy as a frequent term. Getting any of them to last requires the insight and curiosity of Swords, the physical effort and practicality of Pentacles, and the emotional labor and insight of Cups.
Of course, lasting isn’t the only goal…