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Thursday, April 9, 2015

9 of Swords: Astrological Associations

Astrological associations for the Minor Arcana cards typically involve a planet, a zodiac sign, and/or a house. The attributions established by the Order of the Golden Dawn (OGD) are by far the most commonly used. However, there are other associations out there. As a professional astrologer, I find it interesting to compare and contrast these associations. (The use of astrological associations with Tarot is completely up to the reader. This is intended to be interesting and fun!)

Credits for the decks and books mentioned in this post can be found HERE.


Thoth Tarot
Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley

For Crowley and the Order of the Golden Dawn, the Nine of Swords is linked with Mars (representing passion, force, and aggressiveness) and the sign Gemini (a mutable Air sign known for being intellectual).

Crowley titles the card "Cruelty" and notes "It is agony of mind. . . crude rage of hunger operating without restraint; although its form is intellectual, it is the temper of the inquisitor.” He also writes: “There is the acrimonious taint of analysis; activity is inherent in the mind, yet there is always the instinctive consciousness that nothing can lead anywhere.”

Hajo Banzhaf and Brigitte Theler (in Keywords for the Crowley Tarot) describe the energy of the card as: "merciless harshness (Mars) and heartless calculating attitude (Gemini).”

Whispering Tarot
The Whispering Tarot by Liz Hazel

Liz Hazel's astrological associations for the Nine of Swords align with those of Crowley and the Golden Dawn: Mars/Gemini. Hazel's DMs for this card include: "fear, danger, disasters, attacks. Mental torment and terror. Nightmares, haunting visions. Physical pain from injuries, surgeries." Ill-dignified DMs include: "Mortal wounds. Death immanent – for a person or situation. No help in sight. May indicate the imminent collapse of a physical structure, especially from above.”

One World Tarot
One World Tarot by Crystal Love

Crystal Love associates the Nine of Swords with the second subdivision of Aquarius (natural ruler Uranus; subruler Mercury). She writes: "The inventive genius of Aquarius is given intellectual capabilities by the presence of Mercury. . . Math, astronomy and occult research are indicated.” She notes the following Traditional Interpretations: "Success and gain after persistent effort. Cruelty, unreasonable passions, anxiety. Misery. Quarrel. The card of the martyr.”

Mandala Astrological Tarot
The Mandala Astrological Tarot by A.T. Mann

Mann associates the Nine of Swords with the energy of  Venus in Gemini. Mann calls Swords Eight, Nine, and Ten "The Vibrations of Gemini," and links the Nine of Swords with the period between June 1-10. Green is the color associated with Venus and orange is associated with Gemini on the King Scale of Color.

Mann's divinatory meanings for the Nine of Swords: "Desire for variety in social life and work can be unsettling. It is necessary to be accommodating and open with friends, but feelings of loyalty should be sustained." Reversed: "Despair caused by inconstancy or resignation in affections, and bizarre values in emotional contacts.”

Universal Waite Tarot
The Tarot and Astrology by David Thornton
(illustrated in this blog by the Universal Waite tarot deck)

_David Thornton_  associates the Nine of Swords with the placement of the planet Venus in the Third House (House of Environment and Perceptions, Communication, Siblings, Short trips). The Third House in astrology is associated with the sign Gemini.

Thornton's description of the energy of the Nine of Swords is: "Charm, courtesy, a cooperative attitude, the ability to accommodate oneself to circumstances. Superficial love contacts can lead to conflicts.”

_Tarot Dynamics System_ by Anna Burroughs Cook
(illustrated in this blog by the Universal Waite tarot deck)

Anna Cook links all Nines to Astrology’s Ninth House (Sagittarius), representing the philosophical and the foreign, higher education, religion, spirituality, long-distance travel. She associates the Nine of Swords with the second decan of Gemini. In Cook's TD system, Subject Card Nine signifies Understanding. The keyword for the suit of Swords in this system is Challenging, which gives us Challenging/Understanding for the Nine of Swords.

Cook applies the keyword “Worry” to this card, noting: “Whether you have a strong desire to go into seclusion to escape the confusion in your life, or feel overwhelmed by a burning desire to be the best or first in everything, or you’re allowing other people’s opinions, problems (or both) to consume your life, your preoccupation is doing you more harm than good.”

A.E. Thierens, PhD. (Astrology & the Tarot)

About the Nine of Swords, Thierens writes "On the house of Sagittarius, the Ninth, the element of Earth must of course relate to the earthy side of religion, i.e. the material expressions of it, to the more heavy, earthy, materialistic mind and its ideas about religion, ethics, etc.” He goes on to state: “It is not very flattering for priesthood in general. . . It is fairly sure, that from the essence of this card arises inquisition and every sort of intolerance, religious intolerance above all. . . so this card may also indicate all sorts of hard judgment, rigid attitudes of mind, orthodoxy.”

His keywords for this card include: "Dogma, scholastic mind, creed. . . The ‘fear of God’ may well be turned into hatred of mankind."

(Note: If you are interested in learning more about this system put forth by Thierens, I recommend the book referenced above.)

Speaking strictly in astrological terms, for the Nine of Swords we have:

  • Crowley and Hazel with a Mars/Gemini association
  • Mann with Venus/Gemini
  • Love with Aquarius/Uranus/Mercury
  • Thornton with Venus/3rd House (Gemini)
  • Cook with the 2nd decan of Gemini, also referring to the 9th House (Sagittarius)
  • Thierens with Earth/9th House (Sagittarius)

Clearly Gemini dominates the associations made by these various Tarot writers. I tend to identify with Mars as the planetary association, and I particularly like Crystal Love’s inclusion of “unreasonable passions” among her “Traditional Interpretations.” I get a strong sense of the passion and aggressiveness of Mars playing havoc with Gemini’s ability to be reasonable, logical, and rational (qualities linked with Air signs). “Unreasonable passions” also applies to the idea of the Nine of Swords as a “nightmare card” or case of anxiety and worry that may or may not be justified. In the Rider-Waite version of the card, the Swords hang above the woman but do not touch her, suggesting a perceived threat that might not be real.

“Cruelty” resonates with this card in my mind as well, for we all know what lengths people can go to when gripped by “unreasonable passions.” I am fascinated by the references to “inquisition” and Thierens’ comment that “the ‘fear of God’ may well be turned into hatred of mankind.” This makes a great deal of sense when we acknowledge the relevance of the Ninth House to the Nine of Swords.

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