Contentment. Wishes fulfilled. Satisfaction.
The Nine of Cups is a positive card indicating success. Wishes may come true. This is a card of happiness, contentment and satisfaction, and it shows a basically positive result to your question.
Someone may show generosity.
Enjoying the pleasures of life could be suggested, although vanity is a possibility, and perhaps someone is boasting about their achievements—but most likely it would be in a likeable or charming way.
If you’re asking a question about relationships or career, the answer will usually be positive. But, as always, relate the card to the surrounding cards.
If the Nine of Cups appears with the Devil, it may be suggesting greed or materialism. In this case, it might also be a warning to cut back on drinking. If it appears with the Four of Cups, it may indicate a lack of satisfaction with some aspect of your life.
With very positive cards such as the Sun, or the Ace of Pentacles, the Nine of Cups would be very auspicious, and it could indicate material success.
The Nine of Cups reversed can suggest greed and materialism (as mentioned above—see the accompanying cards).
Some sort of imperfection may exist; mistakes may be made.
There could be a loss of money, or a loss of position at work.
As always, there are alternative ways to read reversed cards. One way is to see the meaning as the same as the upright meaning but with blockages making the success harder to achieve. Look carefully and see whether this is true for you.
Another way of looking at reversed cards is to see them as an internalisation of the energy of the upright card. Perhaps the success and satisfaction is something you’re working towards or something you dream of attaining, but in order to reach your goals you need to actually take concrete steps to get there.
The Nine of Cups shows a portly man sitting with his arms crossed in front of curved table full of wine glasses. He looks content and satisfied.
Most tarot decks copy the RWS image in some way. In the Steampunk tarot a barmaid welcomes you into the bar. In the Llewellyn tarot a woman sits in luxuriant natural surroundings with a semicircle of cups before her.
The Wild Unknown takes a simpler approach with nine cups in a semicircle and a crescent moon above.
The esoteric title of the Nine of Cups is Lord of Material Happiness.
Astrologically, this card represents Jupiter in Pisces.