9 of Swords – Agony
The 9 of Swords is probably one of the most unpleasant cards in the entire tarot deck. It shows a person sitting up in bed with her hands covering her face as though she has just woken up from a nightmare. On the wall beside her hangs nine long swords.
Also of note is the background colour of this card. Background colours set the mood for each card and most are yellow, blue or grey. There are only five cards in the entire deck with a black background. The usage of this dark colour in this card adds to the sense of hopelessness and dread depicted in this image.
This card reveals a period of extreme hardship. While we all experience some level of worries and go through unhappy times, a person who draws this card is emotionally and intellectually crippled by these feelings. At this stage, anxiety has escalated into terror and sadness has steeped into depression.
The one saving grace of this card’s message is that the problems are created by the mind. In other words, the problems aren’t a result by a terrible external reality beyond our control, but rather, by the way we perceive ourselves and the world around us. While the ego is incredibly difficult to master, it is possible for it to be controlled.
There is a way out of this but the way out is through. Instead of hiding our faces in our hands and hope that whatever it is that we’re afraid to confront will simply disappear, we need to accept responsibility for our past decisions and actions that have led to these feelings of guilt, shame, regret and fear. We also need to accept our mistakes and weaknesses. It is the only way to heal and grow.
Negativity is a self-fulfilling prophecy so we need to change our perspective in order to change our world. Of course, this is not to say that the world will suddenly be bright and merry the moment we accept ourselves. There is still much work ahead of us, but this is the inevitable first step we must take in order to escape the darkness.
Hexagram 48 – The Well
Water is the source of life and a well is a structure that enables people to draw water from the earth. In this hexagram, the well is symbolic of the source of strength we all have deep within us. To make use of it, we must penetrate into its depths and pull it out.
The images used to create this hexagram are wood (the Wind hexagram is sometimes referred to wood) and water, with the wood representing the framework that keeps the well from crumbling. Those who aspire towards spiritual truth should aim to be like the wooden structure by supporting and encouraging the act of drawing water.
The Well hexagram speaks of a time when we must look within and rely on ourselves to survive, grow and thrive. We must tap into our essential nature, nourish it and then use it. Self-development is the key to receiving the gifts and blessings the heaven has given us. Don’t be afraid of the dark or the depth.
Six on line 1:
No one drinks from a muddy well, not even animals. The minds that dwell on corrupt and impure thoughts and intentions are like muddy wells. Those who possess such minds will not be sought out by others.
Nine on line 2:
Talents and resources that go unused are like a well being used to catch fish instead of drawing water for drinking. The mind is precious. Do not waste it away through misuse or under-utilization. Even during times of little to no intellectual stimulation, do not be careless and neglectful. Always keep our thoughts clear and focused.
Nine on line 3:
It is most unfortunate when able and competent people are not being valued. We should all aim to see the best within ourselves and others and then encourage all to strive for excellence. A good leader is one who inspires other to do their best.
Six on line 4:
A good well must be lined with boards or stone so that it doesn’t crumble. A sound mind and soul must also work to maintain its health. Although it is true that when repair is in progress, work cannot be done. Yet, this process of rest and inner-development is necessary and will prove its value in the long run. This is a time for rest and repair so that we can grow stronger and perform better in the future.
Nine on line 5:
Refreshed are those who drink the cool water drawn from the well. Good are those who can look deep within ourselves, draw out courage and strength, and use it for the betterment of ourselves and the world.
Six on line 6:
Just as a well shouldn’t be covered up to prevent people from drinking, talents should not be suppressed. Trust in ourselves. All the luck, wealth and intelligence in the world mean nothing if it is not utilized.
Strength is our ability to accomplish our goals and attain what we desire. We must cultivate our own strength and not rely on others. If we don’t learn how to help ourselves, we will never be anything more than pawns to fate and others’ intentions.
We can all develop strength by drawing upon our own experiences and knowledge. It begins with believing in ourselves and having faith that the universe has given us what we need to survive the obstacles we were assigned to overcome. It continues through the constant fights with doubt and negativity. No matter how tough these battles are, we must never give up.
Lastly, remember that we need not conquer all our fears overnight. Strength is not determined by results. Rather, it is measured through effort, perseverance and attitude. With the right attitude, even failures can become a cultivator of strength.