Light: Sticking with it for the duration. Fulfilling your promises and obligations. Bearing up under incredible duress. Dragging yourself across the finish line. Picking yourself up by your own bootstraps. Refusing to quit. Going as far as you can go and being satisfied with your performance.
Shadow: Making yourself a martyr. Abandoning your post. Giving up at the first sign of opposition. Being prevented from fulfilling an obligation. Failing to be dependable. Refusing to let something go that needs to be released. Beating a dead horse.
Personal Growth: Know when to be a hero. Coached by phrases like “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” you’ll be tempted to crawl ahead even when you’re down. Some causes deserve your total dedication; some don’t. Knowing the difference is an important component of maturity.
Work: When there’s hard work to be done, you learn who your real friends are. Call on others for support, especially if you feel overwhelmed. Take note of who responds. Recognize, too, when you’ve had enough; doggedly pressing on when you’re broken benefits no one.
Relationships: Sometimes relationships of any kind are hard work. You and your partner must be able to count on each other when the going gets rough. If you’ve been unreliable, it’s time to change your ways. If your partner doesn’t seem to be in things for the long haul, you should plan accordingly.
Spirituality: Meaningful progress takes time. You’ll be tempted to give up, to abandon your practices, to shrug off your faith. Stick with it. Your transformation is slow, but steady. Encourage yourself by looking back and seeing how far you’ve come.
Fortune-Telling: Don’t relax yet; there’s more to come. The test you’re facing now is happening for one reason: to show you who your real friends are.
Fool's Journey: The main character continues to strive for the goal, despite terrible odds.
The Number 9: The Completion: fullness, readiness, ripeness.
Wands: One of the four suits of the tarot. Also sometimes called rods, staves, or staffs. Represents desire, inspiration, vision, creation, and invention. Many decks depict budding Wands, suggesting the potential for growth. As a suit marker, Wands suggest the power and potency of a king’s scepter. When a Magician wants something to happen, he waves his magic wand to make his intentions manifest.
Battered Figure: The figure on RWS-inspired versions of this card looks exhausted; his Wand is more a prop than a weapon. Still, they persist, and the fight seems to be mostly over.
Background Wands: In the background of many RWS versions of the 9 of Wands, we see eight Wands; they represent the work done to get this far. Whenever necessary, this figure can look back and remember their achievements in order to give them the strength to keep moving forward. Or at least prevent them from falling over.