Tuesday, December 18, 2007

9 Pentacles - You've Made Your Bed; Now Lie In It

As noted previously, this is a chapter in a book about the Tarot aimed at Intermediate students of Tarot, not beginners or advanced students. It is particularly aimed at writers looking to learn World Building and Alien Character building.

Updated and expanded compilation of all these Tarot Just For Writers entries is now available on Kindle:

The Wands and Cups Volumes and  the Swords and Pentacles Volumes, are now all available separately on Kindle.  The 5 Volumes combined are also available on Kindle as one book, cheaper than buying them individually.

The Not So Minor Arcana: Never Cross A Palm With Silver Aug 30, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Wands Sept. 1, 2015  99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Cups Sept. 11, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Swords  Sept. 17, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Pentacles  Sept. 21, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Books 1-5 combined Sept. 24, 2015 $3.25

This series is designed not for the beginner or the advanced student, but for the intermediate student and specifically for writers doing worldbuilding..

And Remember: The meaning of a Tarot Minor Arcanum resides in the placement on the Tree of Life (i.e. the number on the card) integrated with the "World" or Suit of the card.

For the Tree of Life and the Jacob's Ladder diagrams see:


I don't really go with the way this page explains the Tree, but it is worth thinking about. There are many other ways. For now, ponder the diagrams on this page or Google up some others.

I have been posting here since August 14th, 2007, every Tuesday, the 10 minor Arcana of the suit of Swords. The Ace of Pentacles was posted Oct 23, 2007. The 3 of Pentacles was accidentally posted dated Monday November 5th.


9 Pentacles

We're now discussing the second circle up from the bottom of the middle column on the Jacob's Ladder diagram.

As with Swords (and Cups and Wands) 9 is the Astral Plane where you shape your reality using what you mastered of Kavana and the crafting of your reality in the previous processes.

Remember that we are discussing these processes in isolation from one another to sift out a core signature that can let us recognize the process when we see it operating in the pea soup of ordinary life.

We synthesize the meaning of the number with the meaning of the Suit to discover something about the Tarot card. (not "everything" but just one something).

There is no "right" answer, no one meaning that's exactly what everyone must know to progress in this study.

There are, however, a lot of wrong answers - ones that will lead nowhere or to disaster.

So keep in mind that this text discusses my current (tomorrow is another day!) insights into these core meanings as of this writing. The insight itself is not important to you. The process of arriving at these concepts, however, is something you can apply yourself to generate ideas and concepts, meanings and uses that are entirely appropriate for you.

So watch what happens as we explore the real-world, concrete, materialization (Pentacles) of 9 which is associated with the astrological symbol The Moon.

The Moon is wishes, desires, wants, and needs (neurotic and sane). The Moon rules the 4th House, the root of our Identity, the home and the Mother.

When you look into yourself, you can usually identify the function of The Moon in your natal chart by asking yourself what is it that you "want" in life that you can never seem to "get?"

What's missing? What do you cry for? What is the one thing you want to end up with in life?

Or what is the one thing that, no matter how much you have, you still want more of?

Usually, you will find an echo of the House your Natal Moon occupies in your Natal Chart within your psyche by answering that question on a non-verbal, emotional level.

For example, people with Moon in the 10th (career, ruled by Saturn) want to "do something important." Important=Saturn. People with Moon in the 11th House want "Appreciation" or one of the 11th House (Aquarius) attributes. People with Moon in the First House want "to be number One" - to excel, to be out front, to be the explorer, like Aries the Natural First House.

That "want" is the goal that will mobilize all your personal resources on every level.

When you pass through a 9-process in any project you're doing, that "I wanna!" will stir and re-organize the astral plane in a way unique to you. That "I wanna!" is the organizing principle behind your ambitions and decisions. Even your ego (Natal Sun) energies will be brought to serve that Want.

On the Tree of Life, 9 is The Foundation. It's where everything in material reality is rooted and draws Divine energy into manifestation as a tree draws water up from the soil. That's right, the Foundation of reality is "The Moon," which waxes and wanes and casts a reflected light.

If you want to build something, you first lay a foundation. Just try building a house by putting the roof on before you've set up some walls to hold it. Just try writing a novel before you've had the idea for the novel.

There's a lot of work that goes into writing a novel or writing your life before ever a word is crafted or a college degree earned.

First comes the idea (Ace of Wands) and that fire of an idea has to be brought down through all the Wands processes, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 etc. to the Cups where the "want" the emotional punch, is added to the idea and it becomes "an idea to write a novel." That results in the Swords processes, the actual writing, crafting, marketing, and leaps to the Pentacles where a novel breeds a career of writing novels.

Each of these 4 stages has a 9 process to get through. They're all the same, but all different.

In 9 of Swords, the writer went through the waiting period before publication of the novel with the feeling "anything can happen" -- i.e. her "world" became amorphous, shimmering in the moonlight.

If she was in an anxious phase, she would imagine terrible failures. If she was euphoric, she'd imagine glory. 9 is a realm where dream or nightmare can affect what eventually happens.

Swords are events, deeds, and so 9 Swords is dreams or nightmares about "what will happen."

But human psychology is not that simple. We rarely go directly after what we want. In fact, most of us don't really know the true name of what we want. So we can eat chocolate ice cream because we want to be loved. Or amass wealth because we want respect. The combinations are endless.

Pentacles is about material manifestation of all the lessons taken from the previous processes.
9 Pentacles is as much a result of the previous 38 lessons as it is a precursor to 10 Pentacles.

As 9 Swords was a test of how well the lessons about how to act were internalized (i.e. for a writer, how to incorporate editorial direction and reader comments into the "vision" of the result), so 9 Pentacles is a test of how to be.

That's it. How to exist.

9 Pentacles is about who you are when there's nobody else around. Who are you when there's no audience to play to? Who do you want to be?

In 5 Pentacles, our writer discovered the searing cold of rejection, in 6 Pentacles came largess from a past life, in 7 Pentacles that gift had to be examined and its meaning evaluated, and in 8 Pentacles, the career being built had to be materialized with kavana - with an action backed by pure intention.

Pentacles is material reality, i.e. existence. So why are we talking about actions in 8 & 9 Pentacles?

Shouldn't that be Swords?

Take another look at Jacob's Ladder and the Tree of Life. Notice that Jacob's Ladder is 4 repetitions of the Tree. It's an "extension ladder" -- like one of those where you pull the rope and the ladder gets taller.

When the Ladder is collapsed, you have the Tree with all 4 repetitions stacked on top of each other.

OK, now imagine the whole Tree collapsing so that you see only one circle, but really they are all on top of each other.

Now compress the stack of circles into a two-dimensional single circle.

It's holistic.

This is a view of reality in which every tiny part contains the whole.

OK, you can unfold it now until it reaches Heaven.

Think about the tiniest energy particle you've ever heard of. That particle contains the whole of Reality plus all the rest of the mystical realms of creation we've been discussing.

Think about stem cells. That tiny cell contains the potential for all cells the organism needs to exist.

This Jacob's Ladder diagram is just a way to give our material brains something to grab hold of to think about all that mystical stuff. It's not "real." It's a "model" of reality. As physicists use models to explore theories, so too mystics use this model to understand reality.

Look at a box of Quaker Oats. See the man holding a box of Quaker Oats with a picture on it of the man holding a box of Quaker Oats with a picture on it . . . ?

The Tree of Life is kind of like that. A recursive pattern.

Each of the sepheroth contains all the others.

So when we're in an 8 Pentacles process, all the previous processes we've studied are also in operation. Thus the idea generation of Wands and the passion of Cups and the flashing action of Swords all combine to create the singular action of 8 Pentacles -- in this case, signing the movie option contract.

Now in 9 Pentacles comes the period between signing the contract and seeing what the ultimate result of that will be. This repetition of 9 is similar to 9 Swords because it allows for the imagination to shape the stuff of reality, and different because of the writer's mastery (or lack thereof) of kavana in 8 Pentacles.

Our writer has signed the film option contract and now can imagine a travesty of a movie made from her book, or a great movie that has little to do with her book, or a real dog that nobody will see anyway.

And now we know that what she chooses to imagine will be drawn from whatever inner peace she has achieved with her innermost want or need. As we left her in 8 Pentacles, she had decided that she would use whatever came of the option contract to further her career rather than worry about the fate of one novel.

Remember, the Universe responds more readily to who you are than what you do. And here in 9 Pentacles, you get to BE yourself, all alone. By being that concretized Self, you affect and shape the reality about you.

The Waite Rider deck shows a woman in her garden with a bird surrounded by pentacles. She is alone.

This is where you enjoy your own company and get to know yourself, your fears, nightmares and dreams. Here is where you do the real work of re-crafting your life to reflect the lessons learned throughout all these processes. Here in 9 Pentacles, all those lessons become real and manifest within you, all organized to serve your basic need as an individual.

By this point in the Pentacles processes, you have accomplished something. Here is where you enjoy that accomplishment, or pine away over what you have not accomplished. The mid-Life crisis is very much a 9 of Pentacles process.

The 9 Pentacles Reversed happens when that innermost need or want is still a raging sore point in the psyche.

Consider the "nerd" -- the socially inept perennial teen whose every word and deed begs for your attention at all kinds of inappropriate moments. And of course, your respectful attention is the last thing you would give that person.

That "nerd" condition is described by the 9 of Pentacles Reversed. The very manifestation of the need prevents its satisfaction.

So the 9 Pentacles Reversed process is experienced as a loss.

For example, if you join a volunteer organization, and organize a big affair that appears to be a great success where everyone has a good time, 9 Pentacles Reversed is the phase where you are left alone with the huge mess people had volunteered to clean up -- but they left.

It is in that lonely moment that you realize you didn't organize the affair to raise money for the organization's good deeds, but rather to gain the high regard of the other members. Their desertion is a loss in that bid for regard.

OK, so you also learn to hire a janitorial service next time. You've made your bed; now lie in it.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg


  1. Very thought-provoking post! It's the essence of most of the things we want in this life that having them never satisfies us for long. We discover we "want" (or think we do) something different after all. Or else the desired object or condition is by nature impermanent, so we have to keep getting it over again, or getting more of it. (Wisdom of Spock: "Having is not so satisfying as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.")

    When I first started trying to writer professionally, I thought if I ever got a book published I would never want anything else. Then I thought I'd be satisfied if I could just get a NOVEL published. Then I thought the apex of achievement would be to get a novel published every year. Well, I'm almost there, with at least one book per year for the past few (although this year, it was 2 novelettes and 2 short stories rather than a novel), and I find myself thinking, "Thanks, God, but what I really meant was annually publishing books that actually sell enough copies to make some real money." :)

    C. S. Lewis explains this psychological and spiritual phenomenon -- as elaborated most fully in his autobiography, SURPRISED BY JOY -- by the idea that what we truly need to satisfy our deepest longings is something unattainable in this life (in the Judeo-Christian system, God -- or, more broadly, communion with the infinite, the ultimate reality, etc.).

  2. aargh -- I meant "write professionally," of course