Monday, October 26, 2015

Number 10

Number 10 - moving on

The general meaning of number 10 in Tarot is an expression of the need to release the old and move on to the new. We can think about the meaning of number 10 in the Minor Arcana cards as “mission accomplished;” the fulfillment of a job well done, everything is finished, now what? It’s time to plan the next steps to take. We are warned not to get too complacent about our accomplishments or accumulation of wealth.  We may be too satisfied with what we have achieved. 1 + 0 is like playing an octave on the piano. It’s the ending of a cycle and the beginning of a new cycle. When you get this card in a reading, now is the time to move on to the next higher octave of events in your life.

     Since we are in the season of Halloween (All Hallows Day - Celtic Samhain) I would like to take up various myths and stories related to number 10. This is a time for ghosts, goblins, and other assorted monsters, knocking at our doors, and watching old horror movies on TV. So let’s consider some of the earliest “horror” stories in literature, including some early biblical stories with the number 10, such as Moses arguing with the Pharaoh in Egypt and demanding to “Let my people go!” Moses and Aaron and their Hebrew followers were ready to break their bondage to the Pharaoh and move on to the “Promised Land.” But Pharaoh wasn’t interested in releasing them.  So Moses  brought forth (with the powers of the one God of the Hebrews) 10 plagues over Egypt to convince the Pharaoh that they needed to live their own life in freedom in their own land.  These horrible events brought great shock and fear to Pharaoh and his servants.
 Barbara Walker in The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, talks about Halloween being a time that:  
“…opened cracks in the fabric of space-time allowing contact between the ghost world and the mortal one.” 

So let’s look at the story of the 10 Plagues upon the Pharaoh of Egypt. (Exodus 7-12) I tend to see this story as a symbolic attack on Pharaonoic mythology, rather than history. It deals with magic and attacks against strange hybrid creatures in the form of the Egyptian gods. The story sounds like the destruction of ancient magical practices in order to bring about the new - through drastic change.  At first, it was a contest between Moses and the Pharaoh’s Magicians. Moses turned his “Rod” into a snake. The magicians were also able to perform some similar tricks for awhile and turn things into frogs, and the Nile into blood, but could go no further than that. It took 10 awful plagues before the Pharaoh finally stopped resisting and said "Be gone!"

The 10 plagues that Moses and Aaron imposed on the Pharaoh and his servants were as follows:
Heket with frog's head

1.  Turning the Nile into blood which seemed like a counterpoint to the Nile god, Hapi.

2.  Bringing on a plague of frogs that filled everyone’s houses - a counterpoint to the goddess of birth, Heket symbolized with a frog’s head on a human.

3.  Inducing a plague of gnats (or lice) a counterpoint to underworld god, Set, who murdered the god Osiris 

4.  Sending in a plague of flies that covered everything and everyone - counterpoint to Uachit, Baal (Beelzabub, Lord of the flies)

5.  Causing death to Egyptian’s cattle, which they worshipped - counterpoint to cow-headed Hathor, goddess of mothering
Hathor with cow ears

6.  A scourge of boils on everyone - counterpoint to Sekhmet, lion-headed goddess of healing 

7.  Thunder and lightning and tremendous hailstorms - counterpoint to Nut, sky goddess, and Baal, god of thunder, lightning

8.  A plague of locust hoards that ate up all their crops - counterpoint to Nephra, (Osiris)

Sekhmet with Lion's head
9.  A blanket of darkness and devastation - counterpoint to the sun-god Ra

10. Death to the firstborn including the Pharoah’s prince - counterpoint to Anubis, god of reproduction, death and mummification

Anubis, card XIII Death 
from The Tarots of the Sphynx 
by Silvana Alasia
Lo Scarabeo

Thursday, October 8, 2015


On the Nines  9

Moving on to number 9: Where do we find number 9 cards in the Tarot? We see it in ninth card, “The Hermit,” of the Major Arcana and in the 4 suits of numbered cards in the Minor Arcana: 9 of Wands, 9 of Cups, 9 of Swords and 9 of Coins or Pentacles.

Let’s do the math of 9 first. In mathematics, number 9 stitches together all the primary numbers in the base 10 digit system. We see 1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8 = 36, 3+6 = 9. Strange things happen when 9 is multiplied by any other number because, no matter what the resulting number, the total still adds up to 9. 
For example: 9 x 25 = 2+2+5 = 9; 9 x 72 = 648 = 6+4+8 = 18; 1+8 = 9.

Gail Fairfield, in her book, Choice Centered Tarot, refers to number 9 as “Integrating.” She says that nines “…show a situation in which little needs to be done in order to keep things working and moving.” She concludes that there is a natural flow, a sense of purpose and fulfillment. 

In the Tarot Major Arcana, The Hermit is the ninth card and, in the highest sense, can refer to a person who is seeking
enlightenment and spiritual knowledge by retreating from the world in meditation in order to activate spiritual (or cosmic) consciousness. So what is the point of such meditation? It is a search for inner peace, hopefully accomplished by sitting very still and quieting the wandering “monkey mind” roaming with random thoughts and self-chatter. In Zen meditation, “mindfulness” means to take time to watch and examine one’s thoughts objectively. The aim is to gain new insights about your life when contemplating your own particular sense of reality. For instance, let’s look at an ordinary table. Simply put, the table is real but our concepts and thoughts about the table are not the reality of the table. Our perception of the table consists mainly of images in the mind’s eye. The table is the table so to speak.The usual attribute for The Hermit is that he/she is lighting the way for others who are still on an ascending path toward the spiritual self based upon what was discovered in the retreat. 

Let’s explore some loose associations with number 9. Some of these may relate to Tarot, some may not. We hear old familiar sayings like, “A stitch in time saves 9,” which obviously,  refers to procrastination, meaning don’t put it off or there will be more to do. Then somebody says she is “dressed to the nines,” meaning she has attained the utmost in perfection and elegance in her appearance. What about being “on cloud 9?” Where did that come from? Literally, in atmospheric science, it’s the highest cloud: a number 9 cloud is a cumulonimbus cloud that extends 6.2 miles high. In colloquial terms, it means you have reached the highest ecstasy, or are floating above it all in “la la land.”

Here are some other oldies about 9 to think about: The Norse god Odin hung upside down for 9 days in order to reach enlightenment. In Greek mythology, there were 9 muses, the goddesses of poetic inspiration; goddesses of song. They were Clio, history; Euterpe, music; Thalia, comedy; Melpomene, Tragedy; Terpsichore, dance; Erato, love poetry; Polyhymnia, heroic hymns; Urania, astronomy; and Calliope, epic poetry. We can still see the realistic sculptures of The Muses on a second century Roman Sarcophagus in the Louvre. What about going “the whole 9 yards?” It could mean something is complete, finished. There are 9 yards in an Indian Sari. On a three-masted sailing ship all 9 yard arms could be at full sail in a light wind.

What about games we’ve seen or heard about, or even played? There are 9 holes in golf; nine-pin bowling; the 9 squares of “Tic Tac Toe” or, in England, “Nought's and Crosses.” Then there is an ancient game - Nine Men’s Morris played all over Europe. “Each player has 9 pieces, or men…” They may hop, jump  or fly. The game board has been discovered as far back as 2,000 years ago in Roman times. It has been said that the word “morse” means walrus in Norse and the “men” for the game were carved from walrus tusks.  And then there is “Morris Dancing” from Britain where players dance and hop and crack sticks together to music.  It’s fun to see so here you can play a Youtube video of the Blackmore Morris Men.

Getting back to Tarot: What does it mean when you get a 9 card in a reading? You are feeling balanced. Complicated situations and difficult issues have been resolved. There is a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. Things are flowing again and you can move on. Barbara Walker in her book The Secrets of the Tarot, says “…the sequence of cards from ace to ten was usually envisioned as three triads or triangles of increasing complexity summed up by the tenth card which encompassed the whole” (p. 138). I have incorporated this concept in the 9 of Wands in Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness. 

 Ask yourself these questions:
9 of Coins or Pentacles - How am I blessed in having everything I need? Am I truly grateful?

9 of Swords - How am I dealing with troubling memories and distressing thoughts? Have I dismissed my bad dreams by seeing the truth and reality of things?

9 of Cups - Are my wishes coming true?  Am I feeling good about everything and everyone?

9 of Wands - Have I realized how much have I have grown and matured? Am I satisfied with my new maturity; do I feel fulfilled? (add link)