Just as a reminder, here is a blurb from my Oracular Tarot series introduction where I briefly discussed the Ninth Gate effect in tarot:
“My first area of exploration in this series will be what Gordon White of Runesoup.com coined the “Ninth Gate Effect.” Which is the literal manifestation of the Hermetic principle “as above so below.” Golden Dawn are you listening? I highly recommend watching the 1999 movie “The Ninth Gate” starring Johnny Depp (they couldn’t have picked a better actor in my opinion).”
After 4 years of doing daily draws I started to notice an interesting occurrence. Sometimes, cards seem to literally mirror my life. By this I mean that the scenes in the cards were played out in my life on a physical level. For example, when we got our little white puppy, I kept pulling The Fool on a regular basis for days in not weeks. At first, I figured that the playful, childlike energy of the puppy explained the card showing up, which of course that was part of it. But then I started to notice that there were moments in the day when she was jumping at my heels just like the picture in The Fool card. One day as I raised the broom up over my shoulder to get it away from her there was a moment where I realized that I was literally acting out the scene in the card (minus a cliff in front of my and a red feather in my hair and a white rose in the other hand, of course).
I also started to hear other people reporting similar experiences. The imagery could be a literal (not just metaphorical) mirror of our lives. It felt like once I noticed this effect in my readings it started to show up more regularly. It is likely that it always showed up, but I didn’t notice it or know to look for it. Once I discovered it, it hugely changed my understanding of tarot and my relationship with it. And it added a new level of mystery and the supernatural to my readings.
Months later, I was listening to the Runesoup podcast and as I mentioned in the introduction to this series Gordon White called this phenomenon “the Ninth Gate Effect.” I immediately re-watched the movie The Ninth Gate. I noticed that one of the images that Johnny Depp encountered in the devil’s book was clearly inspired by The Hanged Man card. So, clearly this ninth gate effect is strongly connected to the tarot. Like Johnny Depp, we can find ourselves acting out or living within the images of the tarot in a very real way. Yet with all the Tarot books I read (mostly focused on the Rider Waite Smith system), and I have read A LOT, none mentioned this phenomenon much less discuss it in depth.
When I heard about this affect it seemed to me that most people experienced it after the fact. No one seemed to look at the imagery during a reading through this lens. What I mean by this is that no one I encountered (including myself) was reading the cards and looking for potential Ninth Gate situations. So, I started to look at the cards differently in readings since discovering that tarot can work this way. This opened a whole new world of potential with what Tarot can tell us in a reading. Now when I look at cards, I always consider the potential for a literal interpretation of the imagery along with metaphorical interpretations such as the card name, its numerology value, etc.
I have also noticed that card imagery manifest in a more abstract way. For example, I pulled The World yesterday and we just finished our dog fence. So, while the meaning associated with the card as a limit or boundary can apply here but so can the image in a more abstract way. The woman dancing in the wreath becomes my puppy running around the yard with a fence around it. This is not the Ninth Gate effect because it is much more literal when it presents (i.e., a dog is a dog like in the above example with The Fool card). But it still shows that tarot imagery can be a visual representation both abstractly and literally as well as a metaphorical or symbolic representation. And that often the metaphorical/symbolic meaning of the card can be directly connected to a physical manifestation of the card in our lives. Such as with my experience of The Fool energy of a puppy and the image of the puppy at my heels literally showing up in my life. Have you noticed the Ninth Gate effect in your readings or daily draws? Do you look at the cards through this lens when you read?
Book a reading today and see how the cards reflect your life in a literal way.