IX. The Ennead - The Neufs*

[*French neuf, not attested as English word; pronounce to rhyme with roof.]


The Ennead terminates the elementary number series, for the Decad is a new Monad and a new beginning. Thus the Pythagoreans call the Ennead "Limitation," "Final Limit" and "Unsurpassable Limit," for it is the end of the process which gives specific characters to numbers, and after 9 their characters repeat: 1+0 = 1, 1+1 = 2, etc. The Ennead also shows the character of numbers by casting out nines. Thus the Decad is a return to the Monad (10: 1 + 0 = 1), and a higher order repetition of the characters (11: 1 + 1 = 2; 12: 1 + 2 = 3, etc.).

The Decad, however, since it is beyond the Ennead, is called Unlimited and Infinite. The Pythagoreans say: The First Monad reaches its goal in the Triad (1, 2, 3), the First Perfection; thus Initial Unity achieves First Completion. The Tetrad reaches its goal in the Hexad (4, 5, 6), the Second Perfection; thus Well-rounded Stability achieves Harmony. The Second Monad reaches its goal in the Ennead (7, 8, 9), the Third Perfection; thus Hidden Unity achieves Second Completion. After the Third Perfection comes Final Unity (10), which is unbounded.

Likewise they call the Ennead "Oceanus" and "Horizon," for these two things encircle the world and contain everything inside themselves; and they call it the Heavenly Sphere because that sphere, the Ninth, surrounds the planets, the stars, and the earth. And they call it Hyperion because it exceeds (hyper-) all other elementary numbers. The Pythagoreans also call the Ennead "Sun" (Halios) because it gathers (halizein) the numbers around itself, as the Sun causes the planets to circle it; and they call it Concord or Lack of Strife because in so gathering the numbers it makes them play in concert.

The Ennead is also called "That which Brings Completion," Fulfillment, Attainment, Incorruptible, Perfection and even Thrice Perfect, because the Triad is perfect and the Ennead is the Triple Triad. The Ennead is the Earthly Paradise.

But the Ennead is also called Near Perfect, Failure and Shortcoming because it falls short of its perfection in the Decad.

The Ennead combines Order with Crisis (9 = 4 + 5). This combination is unstable; either it will be completed and consolidated in the Decad (5 + 5), or it must decay to lower stabilities (4 + 4, 3 + 3, 2 + 2). Thus the Pythagoreans call the Ennead the Finishing Post, for it is the Goal and Turning Point of Advancement; either the test will be passed and progress will continue to fulfillment in the Decad, or it will not be passed, and there will be a return to lower levels.

The Pythagoreans call the Ennead "Hera, Sister-Consort of Zeus," because it stands opposite the Monad (Zeus) and balances it, and because the Decad comprises Zeus and Hera (10 = 1 + 9).

In summary, the Ennead manifests great strength, but also contains the seeds of its own defeat. Though it is on the threshold of the Decad, if it does not meet the challenge, it must return to a lower stage.

Wands: Master of Will

The Neuf of Wands represents a great concentration of strength, determination and discipline, which will be needed, for the Neuf signals the final challenge before the goal is reached. At this stage, the odds are in favor of success, but failure is also possible. The Wand will not break if it is aimed straight at the target. Aim the Blow well.

Image: A double cross of wands (keraunoi and thursoi) as for the Eight of Wands, but with the astrological symbol for Mercury in the center. Fiery background.

Commentary: The Mercury symbol, which is the caduceus, represents the determination to accomplish the task, as does the fiery background. The circle of this symbol represents the delimitation of the Ennead.

Swords: Master of Words

The Neuf of Swords signals that you have become a expert at analysis and argument, able to wield your razor-sharp intellect to defeat any opponent - the proverbial two-edged sword. One danger is a descent into sophistry, or even into dishonesty. Another danger is that your weapon will be wielded without compassion, and thus become a tool of cruelty and malice, and a source of anxiety, sorrow, despair and fear for others - and ultimately for yourself, for indiscriminate cutting stains the blade with cynicism. Beware the well-honed Edge.

Image: An electrum medallion containing a downward-pointing dagger in the center of the eight swords of the Eight of Swords. Cloudy background.

Commentary: The downward pointing dagger represents the danger of sophistry, cruelty, etc.; it is in a circle to represent the delimitation of the Ennead. (Electrum is an ancient alloy of gold and silver.) The clouds represent dishonesty, anxiety and fear.

Cups: Master of Wishes

In the realm of Cups, the Neuf represents the attainment of a pervasive contentment, grounded in both matter and spirit, which provides the emotional foundation for further progress. However, this very pleasant state can easily degenerate into self-indulgence, over-indulgence, foolish naivety and complaisance - the trap of the Caters (4s), but with higher stakes. Drink deeply from the cup, but remember that a more enduring pleasure comes from a drink that has neither an excess nor deficiency of spirits. Handle the full Cup carefully.

Image: The open mouth of an electrum cup in the center of eight cups arranged as for the Eight of Cups (but without the flow from the diagonal cups). It is filled with a pink liquid. Dark blue background.

Commentary: The central cup represents the delimitation of the Ennead. The full cup represents contentment, and the pink liquid represents the proper mixture of wine and water ("neither an excess nor deficiency of spirits"). The arrangement recalls that of the Cater of Cups. The dark blue background represents wisdom and prudence, but also pride (Cooper s.v. Colours).

Pentacles: Master of Wealth

The Neuf of Pentacles represents well-earned rewards and satisfaction for significant accomplishment - not excessive pride, but a realistic appreciation for one's own worth. However, at the level of the Neufs, one's triumph may be lonely, for comparatively few people will recognize your accomplishment or understand your pleasure in it. The dangers are that lack of support from others may undermine your accomplishment and lead to its collapse, or that your satisfaction may become narcissistic. Though your coin is valuable to you, will others accept it? Know the worth of your coin.

Image: The arrangement of the Eight of Pentacles, but with a central electrum disk out of which the eight rays radiate. Light yellow-green background.

Commentary: The central disk represents the completion and delimitation of the Ennead. The light yellow-green background represents contentment, satisfaction etc.

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Last update: Mon Jul 5 11:48:27 EDT 1999