The number 9 is the last single-digit before we must combine digits to express quantities. As 7 is said to be the number of physical perfection, 9 is said to be the number of astral perfection. The number 9 has a magical quality about it in mathematics. For example, multiples of nine add up to nine, Casting Out Nines in grammar school was a great method to double-check our addition problems, and auditors and bookkeepers get a heads up on transpositions if the amount of the error is divisible by 9.
The Sage, typically called The Hermit in other traditions, is our last stop before we transition into the cards relating to the astral plane. The Sage is a bit magical, too. He is the stranger that shows up just at the right time to point a battered and challenged hero in the right direction. He is Merlin. He is Glenda the Good Witch. He is Yoda. It has been said that if you want some good advice, ask someone with a little gray hair on their head. You’ll notice that our sage has a few of wrinkles on his face, unlike the other characters in the Brotherhood of Light deck. He wears the headpiece of a priest and the beard of a pharaoh, indicating that he possesses both political and spiritual wisdom.
In the Rider Waite deck, he stands on the same precipice as The Fool. His lantern becomes a guiding light to those on the way up. He knows the way because, when he was a fool, he fell off that same precipice many times himself. In the Rider Waite deck, he’s called The Hermit and is said to be a recluse. In the Egyptian Tarot, he shares the key words silence, reflection and circumspection, but he also wanders about the public square from time to time, sharing his insight and lending a hand where it may be needed. There’s a Buddhist proverb that says when a student is ready, a teacher will appear. In Arc. VIII, The Balance, we were happy to keep things just the way they were. In Arc. IX, the student is ready to learn and a learning curve begins, which often isn’t comfortable or easy.
Ruled by Aquarius, The Sage represents the qualities of a thinking person, or one who might be inventive, creative, and sometimes argumentative. It is also a card representing groups of people who gather together for charitable benefits, community service, clubs and associations. It is a card of knowledge, wisdom, and all that is humane.
The spiritual message of The Sage is:
Remember, then, son of earth, prudence is the armor of the wise. Circumspection enables one to avoid snares and abysses and to foresee treason. Take it for thy guide in all thy actions, even in the least. Nothing is indifferent here below. A pebble can overturn the chariot of the master of the world. If Arcanum IX should appear in the prophetic signs of thy horoscope, keep in mind that speech is silver and silence is gold.
C.C. Zain, The Sacred Tarot
For more information and correspondences relating to The Sage, consult The Sacred Tarot by C.C. Zain, available at the online bookstore at http://www.light.org.