9 of Cups – Fulfillment

A man sits before nine cups with a posture of confidence and a content smile on his face. He is satisfied in every way, lacking nothing he needs or desires.

The 9 of Cups describes a state of fulfillment. Many people even call this the ‘wish card’ for when this card appears in a reading, it is a sign that good things are to come – if they haven’t arrived already! However, this description is not entirely accurate because it implies that one’s current happiness is a result of a wish being granted and doesn’t properly take into account the effort one has put into the endeavour.

The certainty of the fulfillment displayed in this card isn’t a result good luck. Rather, it is a product of self-reliance, dedication and hard work. Those who receive this card in a reading have taken responsibility of for their own future and happiness. They have committed themselves to a goal and worked through doubts and setbacks in order to reach it. As such, the satisfaction they now enjoy is not merely the material reward but also the spiritual and emotional satisfaction that can only come from the fruition of effort. In other words, it is the joy of self-fulfillment.

As merry as this card is, however, it can also serve as a warning. Notice how this man sits alone. Even though he possesses all that his heart desires, there seems to be no one for him to share his good fortune with. Instead, the altar upon which the nine cups sit curves around him like a fortress that separates him from the rest of world. When viewing the card from this perspective, his confident smile seems smug, almost as though he has something to prove. One may wonder whether he is still as happy as he seems when no one is watching.

While it is important to be self-reliant, it is also important to develop relationships. Although independence is absolutely crucial to emotional well-being, it cannot satisfy us entirely. There are certain joys in life that can only be experienced with others.


Hexagram 58 – Joy

The Lake Trigram is the symbol of joy. Its structure of two solid lines beneath a broken line shows its nature of being strong and firm inside while outwardly gentle and receptive. Hexagram 58, with one lake stacked on top of another, further reveals the truth of this emotion, which is that true and lasting joy results from exchange.

To exchange is to share and communicate. Just as lakes are the places where animals from all over the land gather to nourish and replenish, people are nourished through exchange in knowledge and kindness. Thus, superior people share what they know and possess with friends and society.

Nine on line 1:

The foundation of joyous exchange is harmony. Harmonious interactions are not merely an act of self-expression but also of active listening. It requires one to truly care about others and treat them as equals.

Nine on line 2:

Sincerity must be accompanied with harmony for meaningful exchange to take place. Although it is important to acknowledge others, we must also be honest with ourselves at all times. Do not agree with others for the sake of being agreeable because true friendship requires truth and integrity.

Six on line 3:

True joy comes from within. While external triggers and amusements will satisfy us for a period of time, it does not make us happy. Those who rely on others and exterior stimulants will be perpetually disappointed because these enjoyments come and go.

Nine on line 4:

To find joy from within, we must first know what makes us happy. We need to know who we are and what we want before we can set out to achieve those things. To firmly know ourselves is the only way to achieve the peace upon which joy rests.

Nine on line 5:

Because joy comes from exchange, we must open ourselves up to others. This makes us vulnerable so we must carefully choose who we trust.

Six on line 6:

In equal exchange, sometimes we lead and sometimes we follow. When we lead, we must lead with benevolence. When we follow, we must not follow blindly and give up our self-control and autonomy.



Happiness is a delicate balance between independence and interdependence. On the one hand, genuine fulfillment must come from the self – we must know what makes us happy and put in the effort to attain it. No one else can put in the effort for us.

On the other hand, we must also work with and place our trust in others because happiness is best when shared. Anyone who has ever experienced something exciting or accomplished a deed that they can’t wait to share with others will understand that the quality of happiness doesn’t diminish the more you share. Instead, everyone contributes to it and it only grows.

To find happiness instead of temporary satisfaction, we must respect ourselves and others in equal measure.