Love Song to the 9 of Pentacles: The Secret Garden


The 9 of Pentacles is one of my favorite cards. Every time it comes up, the sweetest blend of ease and delight and groundedness nestles into my heart. Just look at her here:

Rider Waite Smith’s 9 of Pentacles

Sweetly golden light. A secret garden of plenty. The walls themselves alive with growth, not entrapping but enriching – I imagine, providing safety and respite, a little queendom with everything I need. Solitude without isolation – the little bird of the soul flies freely within and without, bringing and sending news. The little snail slides over the earth, at its own pace, doing its thing, welcome too in its way. Sunset or sunrise, a time of taking stock and resting in one’s own intention, settling into one’s place, remembering connection with self and with world.

But a little bird says: how do we square this with the fact that 9s represent thresholds? A dear friend of mine likes to refer to the “crisis of the 9” – 9 as a gate, a challenge, a test…indeed, a crisis. There is no gate, no challenge here – is there?

Some answer to that question lies in the fact that this is card I drew on the day of my first big MFT exam last week – and immediately I felt the power of knowing I had everything I need to pass, but also the whispering challenge of this card and the secret of its test.

The Wild Unknown’s 9 of Disks. Really, this is the card I drew on exam day – the wealth I have accrued and earned in my labors, nestled safely in soft feathers and here for me as I need it.

Another answer to that question lies in the song I played on repeat on my way to the exam, and which now seems to hold a special resonance with this card and its strange confluence of safety and crisis: My Brightest Diamond’s Dreaming Awake. Take a moment to take in this wonder:

What is the slowing-down place that keeps its voice against challenge?

What is the slowing-down place that keeps its heart amidst panic?

What is the slowing-down place that dreams while awake?

Now that I  sit with it, I feel like these questions have been in my life and my practice all week.

How do we keep to our principles and integrity and still participate in the awful world?

How do we hold on to ourselves in the face of unrelenting panic attacks and terror?

How do I stay in my power and the sacredness of my healing work while taking a grueling 4 hour exam that dissects and belittles me, my community, my work?

I keep thinking of the image of the cops invading the sacred space of that secret garden in the video. Suddenly, this card appears to me as a meditation, visual mantra, or energetic ally for those times when an intrusive and punishing force invades and threatens to sever connection to ourselves or our world. This could be the oppressive dynamics that hit us hard when we step out of the safety of our queer households and into the dominant overculture. This could be you, being in a dreamy and open and soft space and suddenly having to interact with someone angry and punishing, or overwhelmed with sensory input in a loud and busy place. This could be taking a walk on the beach to connect with nature and seeing all the trash, the oil wells, the giant ships packed with slave-labor goods, the polluted waters. This could be you minding your own business and suddenly having a flashback or panic attack, your mind spinning out of control.

Any of these scenarios offer the opportunity to learn to find your core…to breathe…to practice the delicate art of staying present in the face of pain…to slow down and draw strength from your secret garden, to remember the way back to yourself, to remember that you have a grounded and connected self to come back to at all.

All this is the crisis of the 9 of Pentacles, which teaches about the place where sacred and profane overlap.

I always used to think of this card as a garden, but now I see it more as an economy – a sacred or gift economy, oeconomy in the old sense of “the management of a household.” Indeed, some of the traditional meanings for this card include good luck, good management, inheritance, attention to detail, loving criticism, integrity and skill producing wealth, the flow of gain – all of which you might also glean from its astrological correspondence of Venus in Virgo.

Sacred or Gift Economy to me holds a connotation of flow, of giving with the understanding that the gift is always moving, that giving and receiving are parts of the same act and hold reciprocal value. This card is wealth without hoarding, sharing without shame. There is an understanding that while we may sometimes need to retreat and build fortresses to make it through the short-term, there is ultimately no extra safety in cutting off or hoarding or silencing: we must find our flow, and participate in the flow of which we are only a part – the tidal flow of community, of life force, of love and loss, in and out.

Last night, in the novel I’m reading, a girl assassin whispers these magic words in the language of her lost homeland and, in doing so, slays an immortal tyrant whose domination has oppressed everyone it touched for centuries:

The life that is shared goes on forever. The life that is hoarded never lives at all.

The Collective Tarot’s 9 of Bones

I see this in the Collective Tarot’s 9 of Bones too: the strong spine that connects heaven and earth. The fruits which fall between the worlds and which a clever forager collects in baskets and ride off to share with their community. How rootedness and connectedness and circulation are all part of the same phenomenon.

One of the first times these kinds of lessons started to occur to me was in 9th grade biology class, when I first heard the term semi-permeable membrane. I know, I’ve always been a nerd at heart. But the image and the idea collided in me with tremendous power, because deep inside I knew that this was a teaching image for me: there exists a thing whose function is to both protect its innards and allow flow between inner and outer. A boundary which protects but is also porous – which intrinsically knows what to let in and what to keep out, keeping fluid all the while. Like in a cell, or in an egg. I can breathe in and out, but you can’t invade and poison me.

Ladies and germs: I give you, Science!

I see the walls in the 9 of Pentacles like this. For me, it’s a powerful metaphor for how to stay safe and connected to my heart without retreating, charging, melting down or dissociating. Sometimes those things have to happen, too – and when they do, the image of the safe and secret garden gives gentle guidance back to my abundant self, helps me reground and get ready for the next round.

One last image of this card that I love:

Motherpeace Tarot’s 9 of Disks

Here, I see an image of this lesson after many revolutions and evolutions of practice. A vision of gardens within gardens, wisdom and strength to find one’s place – in any place – and be in dialogue with the many worlds, the endless overlaps of body and mind, spirit and soul, wishes and fears, inner and outer, different parts of ourselves, different languages, different  communities. Out of this wisdom, a system of communication and reflection. A time-tested reliance on boundaries –  knowing that while boundaries are built and are relative, they nonetheless provide the safety and containment to open up and experience and learn and commune.


Kaeti is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave.


There are photographs in this post that were borrowed lovingly from the internet and do not belong to us. All are linked and credited to the best of our abilities in hopes of attracting more traffic to the photographers and websites who have blessed us with this imagery. The inclusion of a photograph here should not be interpreted as an assertion of the subject’s or artist’s identity or beliefs. If there is a photo included here that belongs to you and you want it removed, please email and it will be removed promptly, no questions asked.

MHM 4: Energy + Advocacy

Happy Monday Everyone! We hope everyone had a wonderful Super Bowl weekend! Not football fans either? Well, we hope you had good snacks. We’re mostly in it for the vegan tofuffalo wings (perhaps some COM|PASSionate food blogging should be in the works.)

Today’s Mental Health Mash-Up will be in blog format (we’re also dreaming up some videos, prezi’s and other magic to come.) We’d like to welcome anyone popping over from LibSyn! “Hey, friends! This here’s the main blog– we hope you podcast listeners stick around and check out some of what the other folks are doing around these parts!”


In this “episode” of the Mental Health Mash-Up we would like to talk a little about community energy and advocacy as well as, of course, how this plays into our mental health and self-care. Last week this post from Non-Profit With Balls (they’re awesome by the way- check them out) on Trickle Down Community Engagement came through our feeds. This concept isn’t a new one to a lot of us in the COM|PASSionate REVOLT community and was really more of an “Amen, Vu, Amen, thanks for saying this in a way that we wanted to laugh as much as cry,” moment! It really struck a chord with us and got us thinking about the sustainability of the work, how we’re being compensated for it (financial and otherwise) and how we take care of ourselves while we’re doing it.

On the last episode of Mental Health Mash-Up: Disclosure, we encouraged folks to take a moment to check in with how much educating they were willing to do along with what information they were trying to relay. We implored you all to remember that  it is NOT your job to educate others on your identity– even if your identity is something they may not be familiar with. We also discussed the very relevant possibility that in some cases, if one has the energy and desire, a little educating of those around you can go a long way in making your journey smoother.

It’s a bind. We know.

And  it doesn’t just happen on the personal level with those we choose to tell in “perfectly” (read comical, awkward, ridiculous, etc) orchestrated “Coming Out” performances. It takes us off guard and happens when we’re asked to talk to a friend of a friend, a kid of a friend, a sibling/cousin/roommate, etc going through a similar journey. It happens when we’re asked to educate our colleagues or speak to a group about our lived experiences. How many of us have become accidental activists in this way, when asked to lay out our struggle, even though we haven’t fully figured out yet to some group, because we were the only one’s that had any information about being {insert identity journey here.}

It’s not all bad. A lot of us have found it to be a really affirming and passion fueled part of our lives. Story, experience, knowledge and wisdom gained sharing are central pieces of what we’re doing here on COM|PASSSionate REVOLT because we believe it to be healing– to ourselves and others. And lived experience storytelling and resource sharing has long been a piece of the LGBTQ civil rights movement’s gains in strength and visibility.

It’s an admirable thing to share your story AND it’s not your job.

It’s imperative to our individual and community’s mental health that we each find our own balance of if and how much of this we are able to do.

It’s AS important to say, “No, I don’t have the space/time/energy/etc” or “Yes, I do have experience speaking on this topic here is my workshop rate, dates I’m available and other sliding scale/trade based ways you can compensate me for my expertise” as it is to say, “Hell, yes, I have some free time and I’d love to come talk to other folks about how awesome our community is and how they can be more awesome to us!”

This check-in with ourselves in the arc of our lives, the space of our year and our moment to moment present is a way that we can honor ourselves as complicated, fabulous, 3 dimensional beings traversing this complicated, fabulous, 3 dimensional life journey!

So, in conclusion, thank you for reading all you queer educators, lived experience panelists, non-profits of one, vegan tofuffalo fans and folks that have accidentally found us through a series of serendipitous link clicks and hours of internet surfing.

We sincerely appreciate rolling through this rough and tumble journey of life with you as our community!

Please, take us for a ride in your back pocket as you wander, skip and cartwheel through this big beautiful and sometimes chaotic world!

And if you need a little extra support or guidance in how to say “No, I need to take care of myself” check out Non-Profit With Balls’ very inspirational Contact Page.

Until next week,

In revolutionary COM|PASSion,

Skye + Traci


You can reach us at


Quick Healing Tips with Ashley: Mindful Activities and Vibrations


COM|PASSionate REVOLT is excited to introduce a new video blog in collaboration with Holistic Healing Helpers. Ashley will be sharing quick accessible healing tips with the COM|PASSionate REVOLT community. We would love to hear any tips that you have! Send us a message to get involved in the healing dialogue!

View Ashley discussing the power of mindful activities and vibrations below:


Ashley is a healing seeker, adventurer, provider and sharer. She offers healing services through her practice and is working towards creating a mind body healing site in Honolulu, Hawaii.