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The Nine of Wands comes up for this free tarot reading. The Nine of Wands reminds us that it takes time to build what you need. Are you finding it hard to stay patient? If so, you’re not alone. You need to stop pushing yourself so hard.

 
Nine of Wands tarot card meaning from the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith deck
The Nine of Wands tarot card reflects both the hard work you've already done and the work still to be completed.

The Nine of Wands in the Smith-Waite Centennial tarot deck

In Pamela Colman Smith’s iconic illustrations, more widely known as the Rider-Waite tarot deck, the Nine of Wands shows an uneasy figure. They stand on stony ground in front of a row of eight upright wands. In the background, wild green hills invite a contrast with the foreground’s manufactured floor. The wands’ upright position, coupled with the contrast between the floor and the background, suggests a building in progress. A shelter.

Here we see Wands—the suit of fire and creative power—serve as fenceposts or as the frames for a coming wall. In this way, the Nine of Wands reminds us that creative passion isn’t always a weapon or a fast-changing force that we have to adapt to. Sometimes creativity takes a domestic or passive turn. This tarot card reminds us that we sometimes have to put our energy into keeping ourselves safe. There’s a slower-paced, less exciting side to harnessing our creative drive. And that’s just what the Nine of Wands represents.

You’ll probably have noticed that the figure in this tarot card seems wary. They clutch one of the wands protectively, and we see that they wear a bandage on their brow. Their clothing is not fine, either. Contrast their outfit with the Nine of Wands’ sister card, the Nine of Pentacles, for example. While both cards represent walls, shelter, and domesticity, the Nine of Wands is about the hard work it takes to build this kind of protection. Meanwhile, the Nine of Pentacles is about already having that luxury—whether you had to work for it or not.

The worst is behind you, but there’s hard work ahead

The Nine of Wands upright suggests that you’re licking some wounds. You’ve been through some hardships, and you’re looking for some time and space to recover. Unfortunately, you find yourself having to build that safe space yourself. The work isn’t easy, and it’s also far from done. But those great blue skies and verdant hills at your back speak of softer times to come. The conflict is behind you. And now, your task is to prioritize recovery while practicing patience and gentleness with yourself. 

In this time of quarantine and social distancing in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us lack access to literal and figurative safe spaces. Reeling from a stress that’s unprecedented for many of us, we nevertheless must take care, must stay strong. The Nine of Wands invites you to acknowledge how tough this situation is for you—even if it’s even tougher for others.

If you’re feeling worn out and raw, those feelings are valid. This card isn’t demanding that you roll up your sleeves and put your nose to the grindstone. Instead, it invites you to honour the work you’re already doing to keep yourself and others safe. Be gentle with yourself as you continue. Allow yourself some room to breathe.

Can you be more gentle with yourself? Can you move at a slower pace?

The Nine of Wands also invites you to slow down. This advice can be hard to swallow. For me personally, when I found myself unable to keep up with daily blog posts, I froze up and stopped writing altogether for a couple weeks. I felt very guilty for not keeping up with this project while so many people appear more productive than me right now!

With my tarot practice, I came to realize that slowing down is okay. More than okay, it’s necessary. We all have a responsibility to accommodate our own changing needs as well as other people’s. So if you need to take a break, the Nine of Wands reminds you that you have permission to do so. And if you need to adjust, to slow down, or to reduce productivity, this free tarot reading also reminds you that changing gears doesn’t have to mean stalling.

Look for opportunities to be more gentle with yourself. And remember that everyone is facing this same challenge! You’re working hard, and a lot of mundane responsibilities have come to the fore. Take breaks, rest, and see what it would feel like to give yourself permission to recover. You’re going to get through this at your own pace. In exceptional circumstances, unplanned and even drastic adjustments are in order.

Try not to lose sight of those blue skies on the horizon. You’re working now for a brighter, safer future. I see you.