Crowley's divinatory meaning for this card is 'unprofitable speculations and employments, little gain for much labour.' There is an air of promise that never came to fruition. To me, it's more of a 'spinning your wheels' kind of thing. It is like the darkest interpretation of the RWS 7 of Pentacles, the farmer waiting for his crop to be ready for harvest. That card has a feeling of potential, whereas this card is more like, 'You did all that work only to lose a good portion of your crop.' Who needs that?
The thing about this sort of card, though, is not to just read 'Failure', DuQuette's discouraging words, and to either go back to bed or march off into the world ready to receive the blows of outrageous fortune. You have to examine the meaning of the card in light of how you can make the best of it. Otherwise, what is the point?
Yes, the card points to material difficulties. Start by identifying them. Is it your job? An investment? Your physical body? Where might there be difficulties? (Ignore the word 'Failure'. Seriously. That is just a trigger -- Crowley and his ilk love pushing your buttons. Let them be pushed but let them be pushed for good and not despair!) Then ask yourself -- am I blowing these difficulties out of proportion? Am I dwelling on them too much? We know what happens when we dwell on things, right? This card can be a cue -- identify areas in which you feel that you may be facing 'failure' and get a grip! Get some perspective! Look at where you are right now. What actions can you take to prevent this 'failure' that looms so large in your imagination? Do you need to do anything at all?
Maybe all you need to do is let go of worrying about it. Maybe you need to gather information. Maybe you need to have a talk with someone. Maybe you need to stop doing one thing and start doing a different thing. Or maybe you just need to chill out and think about something else, let it lie.
And that brings us back to the RWS 7 of Pentacles, doesn't it. Patience -- doing what you can and leaving it.
Today, I will not worry about my fears of failure. I will take steps in the best direction I can identify and I will occupy my mind with other things.
(ETA. After I wrote this entry, I had a look at Angel Paths and Zeigler's book. We share the same opinion about this card. :) )