Strength in reserve. That's the message of the Nine of Wands, personified by our grizzled, war-weary hero at the gates.
He's seen trouble, sure enough. And more troubles are on the way, you can bet. Trouble's always rolling in somewhere, after all, and his wary, defiant stance and bloodied but unbowed demeanor suggest that he'll be there to meet it when it does. Trouble is not going to sneak up on him in the night, no sir, no ma'am.
And he's right, of course. Trouble is here, trouble there, trouble trouble everywhere. What else is a person to do but wrap the bandages tighter, grab a stick, and take up position?
Well, now that you mention it, there's lots a person can do besides that.
A person could ask questions, for starters. Like, why am I the only one guarding this particular section of sticks? Isn't it someone else's turn? What's so important about these sticks anyway? And—and this is the trickiest question of all—am I attracting trouble by standing out here looking like a target?
You are of course strong enough for whatever battle is to come—this card guarantees it. What it doesn't spell out for you, for anyone, is whether or not this is a battle you should be fighting. When the Nine of Wands comes visiting, it's time to evaluate what character you've decided to play in the story of your life.
Maybe you'll decide that you are indeed fighting the good fight; if so, hold your stick high, fellow warrior. Or maybe you'll decide to let Don Quixote tilt at windmills while you go do something else, like take a hot bath and get some rest.
Because maybe, just maybe, you're brandishing that stick at the enemy-yet-to-come because that's much less frightening than figuring out what it is you're really supposed to be doing. Don't let Wielder of Sticks become your sole identity. Remind yourself of what life could be like without a stick in your hands.
Hint: It's pretty good.