In the Nine of Cups we see a content man sitting in front of his collection of nine cups. Apart from the gentleman and his array of cups, the scene is barren.
Accomplishment, achievement, success are all keywords that spring to mind on first viewing the nine of cups. A rather well off man sits in front of his collection of cups, seemingly not wanting for anything. He is almost guarding his achievements to date, hoarding the cups in the background, happy in the knowledge that they are his security, his safety net and all he has to do is mind them.
On a superficial level, the nine of cups is a positive card to receive. It denotes success and achievement, the accomplishment of goals we have been working towards. In relationships, things may be going smoothly. In work, we have overcome obstacles and now feel secure in our position.
Rather oddly, this successful man is not tending to his wealth nor generating more of it. Instead, he is simply sitting there, congratulating himself and guarding his riches. The message implicit in the image is that we may be spending time daydreaming about success instead of rolling up our sleeves and getting down to work. Even when we achieve success, we still have to work to maintain it. It is a hollow satisfaction gained from simply guarding wealth.
Scratching beneath the surface, there is something off-putting about the manner in which the man presents himself. Smug, self-centered, greedy and hoarding could all rear their ugly head. We should heed the success of the nine of cups with a word of warning. We should not allow success to change our inner good nature or we too may become the smug man zealously guarding his good fortune. We may be in danger of becoming over possessive of what we have, forgetting that wealth is useless when it is hoarded up.
We can be proud of our achievements and our success in life but we should not become overbearing or smug about our accomplishments. Therein lies the warning in the nine of cups.
If success is at hand, we should be aware of becoming self centered. We forget others and only have time for ourselves. Success may make us selfish or smug, maybe we allow it to go to our heads and take on an overbearing attitude to others. The man in the card has no social interaction around him. There is no village or family, friends or children depicted. We should heed the warning in the nine of cups reversed.