Saturday, 9 March 2019

Pisces in the Minor Arcana: The Nine of Cups


The Nine of Cups, which - in the correspondence system I use - is linked to Jupiter in Pisces, as well as the  middle third of Pisces (28th February to 9th March, roughly).  Jupiter is the ruler of Pisces, so already we have a sense of how this might play out! Jupiter, the ‘Greater Benefic’, expansive, generous, jovial... and in Pisces, described so well by William Blake’s “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom" (from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell). Jupiter in Pisces is compassionate and sensitive, and has great faith or trust in a higher power (and the self).  It wants to grow by living according to its ideals – it’s high-minded, yet its generosity of spirit makes it sympathetic to everyone and everything.
Nine of Cups (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot

Jupiter’s expansiveness gives rise to overflowing watery emotions, symbolized in the Sharman-Burke/Caselli version of the card by the fountains, or the overflowing cups in the Crowley Thoth and Wildwood decks. 

In Pisces, it’s all about bliss, deep joy, overflowing love... without restrictions.  It’s the benevolence, the all-expansiveness, of Jupiter that gives the Wildwood’s Nine of Vessels its keyword ‘generosity’. 

Nine of Cups (trimmed):
© Sharman-Burke/Caselli Tarot
The emotions are nourished, the senses are satisfied (symbolized by the spread of food and the embracing couple depicted in the Sharman-Burke/Caselli card, from the Beginners Guide to the Tarot) – it’s a time for indulging, to enjoy relationships.  Often referred to as the ‘wish card’, the Nine of Cups can represents dream or wishes coming true and, through Jupiter in Pisces, the sense of ‘blessedness’ that comes from deep-rooted, absolute joy. Mutable Water.





Nine of Cups (trimmed):
© Margarete Petersen Tarot
In Margarete Petersen’s version of this card we see a pearl in a shell, bathed in bright (sun?) light, possibly on a beach… the colours conjure up evening, for me  - the Cups correspondence with twilight-evening, perhaps. Pearls are metaphors for something rare, fine, admirable, and valuable – so I can see why Margarete Petersen has used this to represent the penultimate goal.  You’d think there was nothing more to gain after this, but it is the ‘almost but not quite’ idea.  

In the LWB, Petersen writes about the pain involved in the process of reaching this goal: the pearl forms from a grain of sand embedding itself in the soft flesh of the mollusk, and the continuous pain the creature feels as its shell covers the grain of sand with calcium carbonate to create the pearl.  So it’s not all happy-happy in this version – there’s a need to accept the pain in order to truly appreciate the gift from the ‘depths of the ocean’ (i.e., from within ourselves, if we allow it to surface).  The shadow side of the card, perhaps?

The shadow side of Jupiter in Pisces, and the Nine of Cups, also reflects the tendency towards escapism, and losing focus. Not that escapism is always a bad thing, but Jupiter takes things to excess, so what might be healthy escapism runs the risk of becoming an addiction. It could be difficult to deal with the outpouring of emotions, to the point where the emotions end up becoming blocked for fear of the consequences. 


Beginner’s Guide to the Tarot created by Juliet Sharman-Burke, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, published by Connections
Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA/Deep Books, 2004.
Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections




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