Harmony & Luxury: the Nine of Cups

from the Dark Days Tarot.

from the Dark Days Tarot.

I've never connected super-strongly to the Nine of Cups in the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith deck. I always thought the guy on the card looked kind of greedy, like he was guarding all his cups; guarding his joys and riches. This probably says more about my relationship to abundance than anything about the card itself; after all, it's a pretty straightforward image of a guy just sittin', lookin' happy.

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So when I drew the Nine of Cups this morning from my new, o-so-glorious Dark Days Tarot, I was surprised to see how different of a vibe it has. (Granted, this entire black-and-white deck does have a much calmer, more feminine, lunar vibe than the bright R-W-S). We see a mermaid figure holding one of her cups, perhaps sipping from it, or perhaps simply presiding over her collected goblets. When I checked the Dark Days Tarot guidebook out of curiosity, I saw that this card placed upright means harmony and clarity. I was surprised. It wasn't greed or guarding; it was harmony! 

What is harmony? It's to do with balance, right? Living in harmony means the various aspects of your life are all being tended to. Rather than hoarding all her cups, the mermaid is tending to her various cups-- the various emotional and creative aspects of her life. She's not guarding what she has; she's taking care of what she has. What a different relationship that is to the things we hold dear!

I checked what Michelle Tea had to say about this card in her book, Modern Tarot. This is my favorite recent book on Tarot. I adore Michelle Tea as a writer, and her discussions of the cards are so down-to-earth and relatable. Her take on the Nine of Cups is achievement and luxury. She talks about celebrating what you've achieved by indulging in some luxury, big or small. I love this idea, but I find it's difficult in practice, right? Often, I think, "oh, when I achieve such-and-such milestone, I'll get myself this little present." but when said milestone occurs, I think, "oh, I shouldn't be greedy. That's too indulgent." There's a guilt attached to luxury that I just can't get over.

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But since I know now that the Nine of Cups isn't about greed at all, and is rather about celebrating your accomplishments, maybe this can shed a new light on my attitude toward this card. Maybe it's actually harmonious-- in balance-- to reward yourself with some small luxury when you've achieved something. Maybe you don't even need to earn it; maybe small indulgences are part of a harmonious life.

If harmony is balance, then indulging sometimes (not all the time) can be a totally harmonious part of life. After all, never indulging is just as imbalanced as always indulging.

I'm doing a program called Queen right now with the ultra-inspiring witch Joanna DeVoe, and it's totally helping change my attitude toward luxury. I think letting yourself have luxurious things, if you've habitually denied yourself them, can actually be a step toward balance. I know it's scary to indulge, and can feel reckless. But if you let yourself have a small indulgence, what will really happen? Will the world fall apart? Will you go immediately broke because you bought a fancy-ass latte? No. Practice these small indulgences, and see what the result is. 

I've had a mantra recently, partly due to Queen, that goes: "I can have nice things." I know, sounds so simple it's almost dumb, but I love it. It feels so luscious and revolutionary, and I do feel it bringing me to a more balanced, harmonious place. Alright, Nine of Cups, I was wrong-- you're all about luxury and harmony, not greed, and those are not the same things at all.

Blessed be! xx