It's time to go back to tarot cards, specifically the nines. I'm going through this phase in my life where I seem to be surrounded by people who are Enneagram type Nines on all sides, and if you read this blog, you know I make a correlation between the Enneagram and the tarot. And if you are surrounded by Nines like me, you probably know exactly what it feels like living inside a vacuum bag when the vacuum is on: they don't allow anything to affect them so everything you project outward to them gets blown back in your face. Either that, or the opposite happens: they stick to you psychologically and agree with and copy everything you say and do. There’s a resistance to being affected because they know that if they allow themselves to be touched, they will glom onto you and not be able to separate. So resistance is their only way of holding onto a semblance of individuality, and what powerful resistance it is. The picture at right does nothing to show how fiercely their heels can dig into the ground.
Three weeks ago, I covered how I interpret the Nine of Cups card, and today I want to cover the Nine of Wands because I had a frustrating "Nine of Wands" encounter last night. It was a casual catching up conversation with a friend over text. The halting conversation took place over 3 hours and 20 minutes. I took a 1.5 hour walk in the middle of it, and the rest of the time, we stayed on the surface of about 3 conversation topics, often with a good 10-20 minutes between texts. Not easy for a chatty Type Four like me who likes to go deep and tackle difficult subjects, but I know he was trying, and I understand the reasons for the difficulty in navigating conversation with me- which to him was full of landmines- so I tried to stay upbeat for him, and I give him big kudos for his efforts to connect despite the difficulties.
The core problem for Nines is that they are seekers after internal and external peace, but are so fearful of creating conflict that will disrupt their peaceful connection to people that they insist on ignoring their assertiveness and personal boundaries away. Don Riso is one of the masters at describing the Enneagram types so I’ll let him describe their inner mechanism:
The Nine is the primary personality type in the Instinctive Triad— the most out of touch with their instinctual drives and their ability to relate to the environment. This occurs because Nines do not want to be affected by the environment. They have established within themselves a kind of equilibrium, a feeling of peace and contentment [my edit: hence the nine of cups card] and they do not want their interactions with the world to disturb them. Similarly, they do not want to become unsettled by powerful feelings that their instincts would stir in them. Nines have sufficiently dissociated from the intensity of their passions , their drives, and their anger to allow them to remain tranquil and even-tempered.
This dissociation from their aggression gives Nines a false peace that comes with the cost of being out of touch with reality, and by ignoring their problems, they create even more conflict than if they had just given voice to their desires and impulses in the first place.
But they have a choice. Riso describes the outcome of either taking the high road, or taking the low road— continuing to react unconsciously to the fear of separation:
Thus, when they are healthy, they work to create a peaceful, harmonious environment around themselves. They may do this directly by soothing others and healing conflicts and hurts, or indirectly through creativity and communication which appeals to the idealistic side of human nature, to innocence and gentleness. In this way, Nines contribute to their world, but also influence it so that it will support their inner peacefulness. When Nines are less healthy, they maintain peace for themselves by ignoring those aspects of the environment which they find disturbing or upsetting. Eventually, this can lead to a highly dissociated approach to life in which Nines to not relate to others or the environment as they really are, but instead relate to an inner, idealized image of others which is more pleasant and less threatening.
The more you try and provoke them into action to solve the problem, the more they retaliate by disappearing into a wall of stubborn silence and denial. You can't really win unless the Nine in your life is fated to see the red flags that their behavior is seriously ruining their life and destroying their relationships, and takes conscious action to change their behavior. (I say fated because I’m also a student of astrology, and some of us are not going to develop our spiritual side because there is no indication in our birth chart for it.)
Anyway, I hope that provides a fuller definition of the Nine of wands card. Tarot readers for the most part get it right when they interpret it as “defending against” or “defence”. It’s not as bad as the Nine of Cups that is always misunderstood, but it’s nice to know the inner psychology of the actual Type Nine person to give you a fuller picture during a reading.