Nine (IX) of Swords

Nine (IX) of Swords

9 of Swords Upright


Deep Unhappiness, Joyless, Mental Anguish,  Sick with Worry, Anxiety, Stress, Worries, Burdens, Conflict, Breaking Point, Can’t Cope, At Wits End,  Can’t Think Straight, Harrowing Times, Black Depression, Sorrow, Despair, Bereft, Mentally Overwhelmed, Unable to Face Your Situation/People, Suffering, Fear, Terror, Nightmares, Ghosts from The Past, Insomnia, ‘Dark Night of The Soul’, Waiting for The Axe to Fall, Grief, Mourning, Crying, Time Will Heal, Isolations, Alienation, Imprisonment, Incarceration, Powerless, Coping Alone, Mental Exhaustion, Going Over and Over Things, Breakdown, Head Wreck, Conscience, Guilt, Remorse, Regret, Wanting to Turn Back The Clock, Beating Yourself Up, Convents, Monasteries, Monk, Celibacy, Women’s Health Issues, Hormones, Menopause, Night Sweats, Migraines, Victim, Bullying, Intimidation, Persecution, Vendettas, View Things In The Light of Day, Situation Not as Bad as You Think, Mountains out Of Molehills, Solutions Can be Found,



No one likes to see the Nine of Swords appear for them in a Reading but it does carry a very strong message and one that cannot be ignored.  There is no getting away from the depressing air of this Card so it is best to deal with it as tactfully and as sympathetically as you can.

The Person being represented by this Card is bound to be feeling overwhelmed by their problems or situation. They feel they can no longer cope and are at their wit’s end. They may not be able to face their situation, what has to be done or what is expected of them. They do not feel strong enough to carry their burden.  The worries depicted in this card can be about anything but they are bad enough to come between you and your sleep.  You may also be gripped by fear and just want to curl up in a ball with clenched stomach and thudding heart. Life may have reached an all time low for you and you do not know where to turn.  All is doom and gloom. Expecting the worst you continually wait for the axe to fall.  You may be keeping up a front during the day or managing to  get through, but Night Time is the worst for you because everything always seem worse at night. With no one to distract you or talk to, your mind is free to race anywhere it desires, doing backflips and cartwheels along  the way.  Bed becomes a place of torment and you either dread it or run to in order to escape from the pretence you may be living.

You are indeed heavily burdened when the Nine of Swords appears or at the very least, think you are. This level of worry or stress can be experienced with an unplanned pregnancy, a termination, the diagnosis of a serious or terminal illness, awaiting the results of a cancer test, the death of a loved one or the emotional pain associated with separation. It might be the despair and fear when you don’t have enough money to make ends meet or put food on the table. Your house may be under threat of repossession. You just don’t know what to do because you can’t think straight.  You mind is all over the place and in a terrible mess. You are literally sick with worry. Filled with anguish and despair, you feel you have reached the end of the road and the limit of what you can cope with. This may be the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ . It is impossible to find solutions or any peace.

With the cyclical nature of the Nine, this Swords Card may be highlighting the return of a problem from the past.  Your past may have caught up with you or something you thought dealt with, done and dusted, has reared its ugly head and resurfaced once more bringing all its unpleasantness with it.  This may be on a physical level but more than likely a return of some inner-demons or past nightmare, which has thrown your mental equilibrium out of balance.  Something from your past may have come back to haunt you. You may indeed be carrying a terrible secret about yourself or someone else. Because you no longer connect yourself with that past you may find it impossible to talk to those around you. There is also a chance you are beating yourself up about this and being too hard on yourself.  You may think others will judge you negatively should they find out but in reality they may feel different.  After all, it is the past and you are probably a very different person now. It will come out in the end, so it is best coming from you.

The Nine of Swords is known as the ‘Dark Night of The Soul’ and feelings of isolation and loneliness may lead to severe depression. All is negative and black. It is a time when you cannot see a solution to your problems and lie awake at night in terrible turmoil and anguish. This Card suggests that you are totally ungrounded and too much up in your head. Try to calm down and let your mind settle a bit.  You may be isolating yourself from people because you feel too strained to be around them.  It is exhausting trying to keep up a normal front but why is it that you cannot share your problems and worries with others or ask for help? You might be a very proud person, not used to relying on others, or you may find it difficult to communicate your needs or feelings.  The Nine of Swords often highlights this situation, but trying to internalise your problems and worries will only make them worse, not better.  If you could find someone to talk to, someone who is understanding and can listen, really listen, then you may discover that things are not as bad you think they are.  Of course, talking is not going to suddenly take away the pain of grief and tragic loss, but it does provide release for pent-up emotions and an exit point for all those wild thoughts that have been racing around inside your mind.  Once vocalised they may not attack you as much. Knowing you have someone to support you can be extremely comforting during tough times.

Again, I reiterate that problems may not be as bad or as un-fixable as you think they are.  This is the Swords Suit after all and they are known to get tied up in all sorts of psychological knots when things go wrong.  The mind unchecked, will turn mole hills into mountains and simple problems into disasters. Your mind is going round in circles, endlessly going over and over and over all your problems. You really need to step back from your situation and take a steady, long and calm look at the reality of it before you go screaming down the road.  What precisely is it that you are worrying about? Are you worrying about something that may never happen or has it already happened? Is the worry for yourself or what others might say, or think, if they knew? You will need to get your priorities in order and pull out as many of those Nine Swords as you can.  Break your problems down one by one instead of attempting to deal with  them all at the one time, otherwise you will quickly become overwhelmed.

Now we must look at the more negative aspect of the Nine of Swords, if it is not negative enough already, as there may be real fear or terror.  Depending on surrounding Cards, and you would really need to be sure of this, your fear of night and bedtime may be related to potential sexual abuse. You may be keeping this terrible secret to yourself out of  shame or guilt. You may also be under threat of personal injury should you speak out. You think that no one would understand you or believe you, and if they did, might blame you for your situation. You may feel that you are being kept prisoner and have little freedom.  Alienated and so alone, it is quite likely that your spirit has been broken.  It will take much effort on your part to free yourself from this situation but you most certainly can.  You have given away your power and must take it back.  There will be a lot of help for you and places to go to should you find the courage to crawl out of the black hole you have fallen into.  Don’t believe anyone who tells you there is no help for you as they just want to keep things the way they are. You and only you can save yourself from this situation but you must make the first move. You will have to take the first step by opening up and talking about your dilemma.

With the Nine of Swords, vivid dreams may be disturbing your sleep or you may literally be suffering from insomnia.  Look to the Cards appearing beside this Nine for an indication of where all the worry is coming from. If Pentacles, then money, work or health issues may be at play, Cups may suggest relationship or family  issues, Wands indicate worry about travel, work, moving or physical change. It is when more Swords surround this Card we see the depth and extent of serious worry and stress. The person involved may not be in their right mind at all, no matter how well or normal they look.

In general when this Nine turns up in a reading it would suggest that something is terribly wrong in your life. Communication is vital here as you need to express your feelings to an outside source or even a professional counsellor (Samaritans etc). If this card is surrounded by many negative cards there would be great concern for the Querant or whoever the Reading is about.

The dreadful worry associated with the Nine of Swords may also come guilt, shame or your conscience eating you up.  You may have done something really bad or got involved in a situation that has gone terribly wrong.  Filled with remorse and regret you wish you could turn the clock back and make it all go away.  You may feel there is no way out of your situation and cannot live with yourself and the knowledge of it all.  You might have killed someone in a car accident or caused injury and suffering to another.  You may have committed a crime and have now been caught. You could be awaiting sentencing for your wrong doings.  Your bullying may have caused someone to take their life or made them seriously ill. You may not be able to face the world and feel reviled and hated by all.

On the other hand, it may be you who is the victim. Your life may be persecuted by bullying, a hate campaign or vicious personal vendetta. Someone may be out to ruin your life and you feel powerless to stop them.  Yet, again there is a tendency to keep all this to yourself, but it is important to seek help and stop this vicious cycle of intimidation.

The Nine of Swords also deals with female health issues and hormonal imbalances.  Because this is a Nine and therefore the end of a cycle, we may be looking at sleep related problems due to menopause or hormonal imbalance. Night Sweats and low mood swings could be causing significant disturbance in your life. You could be suffering from awful headaches or migraines. It is important you do not try to get through this time on your own. Talk to your doctor or natural therapist who will help you regain some balance and feel better once more.

If Relationship related, The Nine of Swords would suggest that something is terribly wrong. You may be carrying the terrible shame or guilt of an affair. Someone may have seen you and now you fear your secret will be revealed. You may be locked into a violent and abusive relationship or marriage and don’t know who to turn to. Your partner may have just told you they no longer love you or you have uncovered deceit and infidelity. Whatever is going on in your relationship, when this Nine appears, it is causing you significant mental and emotional stress.

Your partner may be suffering from mental stress or an imbalance that has him or her close to breakdown. Professional help will more than likely be needed. You or your partner may be seriously or terminally ill and are destroyed with worry, concern and heartbroken.  You may be grieving for a deceased partner and find your bed a lonely place to be and sleep hard to find. This loneliness will always seems worse at night. Nightime is always a terrible lonely and upsetting time for those who are grieving or mourning. However, it is a natural process and the person should be allowed this time to release their grief. No one should attempt to suppress it.  It is when it goes on indefinitely, or when the person begins to suffer from serious sleep deprivation and stops eating that help should be sought. It is then clear they are not coping at all.

The Nine of Swords is also traditionally associated with the sorrow and loss of miscarriage or termination.

In Relation to career, The Nine of Swords suggests you are working under serious pressure and stress.  You might not be able to work at all and have taken to the bed. You may be on the verge of a breakdown and could badly need help. You have too much on your plate in work or you may have done something you shouldn’t have and feel the guilt and shame weigh heavily on you.  You may be on the receiving end of bullying in work and dread getting up every morning.

Your Business may be going down the drain and you are overcome with all the worries and problems connected with it. You need to talk to all those involved with your business; the bank manager, accountants, investors etc and let them know how bad things are.  They may not see it the way you do. They may have solutions or at least options for you to explore.  Do not take all this burden on yourself.

The Nine of Swords can also suggest you are working night shift and feel exhausted as a result. Traditionally this Card also suggested monks,  monasteries, convents and a celibate life.

The Nine of Swords brings in general brings no joy or happiness. The vital thing to remember is that something can be done about your situation and time will always heal no matter how bad things are now.


9 of Swords Reversed


Coming Out of Depression/Depression Worsening, Problems Easing/Problems Intensifying, Worries and Fears unfounded/Confirmed, Ruin, Sinking Lower,  Light at the End of The Tunnel, Window of Opportunity, End of The Road, Loss of Faith, Hopelessness, Giving Up, Surrender, Resignation, Self-Pity, Self-Hatred, Communicating, Opening Up, Facing Fears, Courage, Facing the World/Unable to Face the World, Shame, Victim, Persecution, Scandal, Guilt, Malicious Gossip,  Imagination run Riot, Insomnia, Sleep Deprivation, Nightmares, Paralysis, Hysteria, Psychosis, Paranoia, Hallucinations, Mental Breakdown, Physical Collapse, Seeking Help

When the Nine of Swords Reverses, it is interesting to see the Nine Swords come more strongly into focus. Reversing this Card does not bring an instant antidote to the depressing Upright version for there is no way you will be able to snap from one to the other that easily.  We might very well be looking at a worsening of a situation rather than an improvement. The surrounding Cards should offer some insight.  We are dealing with the Swords Suit, the Element of Air. We are looking at a mind or intellect turned upside down and inside out with torment and negativity.  It will not just be a matter of throwing open the heavy dark drapes to let some light in or flinging wide open the prison cell door to allow easy escape.  Absolutely not.  The person represented by this Card may have lost all faith and hope in life along with their self-belief. Life may indeed be very grim no matter what way you look at it.  They may be beyond convincing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel or that time will heal. They may be caught up in self-pity or self-hatred.

The Nine Swords in Reverse can still cut both ways and we must all remember that. When Reversed, the cuts usually run much deeper.  When this Card is Reversed, the woman appears to look much closer to the Swords than in the Upright.  If she could just tear her hands away from her face, she would see the steps or ladder and know that she can climb out if she really wants to.  That is, if she has enough strength left to do so.  Therefore, the potential to free yourself from your dilemma, stress or worry is there for the taking, if you want it when the Nine of Swords Reverses.

Look at this way.  For some time now you have been adrift in the deep dark threatening ocean of your misery.  You fell overboard some time ago or were pushed.  You have tread water for days, weeks, months even, and in petrification, feared drowning and been eaten alive by sharks.   You have prayed and prayed for salvation or a release from your horror but there has been no response to your pleas.  Your silent cries for help have fallen on deaf ears and you are alone, adrift at sea and in the total dark.  You cannot go on any longer and have given up all hope of being rescued. Paralysed by trauma and worry you become resigned to your fate and let go.  Out of the blue, a whirring noise comes from above and suddenly a strong bright light illuminates you in the turbulent seas.  You have been spotted, discovered, found.  Just when you thought there was no one coming and no one cared, help has arrived.  A rope ladder is flung down from above and instructions shouted down to you. ‘Grab the ladder, just reach out and grab the ladder. That is all you have to do’.  The crew on board are all behind you and when they see you trembling in fearing, hesitating and doubting your ability they shout ‘go on, save yourself. You can do it. Just reach out and grab the ladder.  Take your chance now before the weather gets any worse and we have to go. Just reach out and grab the ladder. Go on, you can do it.  We can help you then, pull you aboard and take you to somewhere safe where you will get the treatment and help you need.  You just need to reach out and grab the ladder first.’

The Nine of Swords appearing Reversed can strongly suggest that you now have a chance to get out of your predicament, clear your worries and stress or find help for depression and misery.  There is a small window of opportunity, a glimmer of light on the Horizon. However, you won’t get anywhere if you just sit there waiting for it to happen.  You must mobilise yourself and begin to climb out of the big black hole you are in.  This Reversed Card is telling you there is help to be found, if you just find the courage to look and ask.  The time for going it alone is over, but the ultimate decision lies with you. You must want this.

You do have another alternative when the Nine of Swords Reverses and this is to do with those Nine Swords once more.  Look again at the imagery Reversed. The Nine Swords again resemble steps, but this time they can, and will, take you down to an even deeper level of despair if that is what you wish. That is, if you want to continue being a victim in your own life. If you thought that things were bad as they are, they can get even worse in the Nine of Swords Reversed. You have the potential to sink to a much lower state.  Again, you can go with the flow of those Nine Sword Steps; walk down them, run down them, collapse down them or you can turn away and run from them.  It is up to you in the end what you want to do with them.  People can help you any and every way they can but they cannot police you all the time. If you want to sink even further, then you will.  So which is it to be? The thing is, it would be much easier to just let yourself go and tumble down those extra Nine Steps to the floor below than it would be to climb up the ladder into the rescue helicopter.  The former option is not reliant on any effort coming from you at all and it would be plain sailing, just free-falling down those steps.  The latter option involves hard work, sustained effort and continued self-belief and determination.

You are at the end of a cycle now and you find yourself in such dire circumstances.  You have tried to stay in control of this for so long but really haven’t been getting anywhere have you? It is now time to sort it out once and for all.  This is a do or die, all or nothing situation and you will need every ounce of mental and physical strength you can muster and then some more.  Can you do it? Do you want to do it? People are standing by, waiting for you to take your hands from your face.  Go on, find the courage to do it and you may discover that things are not as bad as you imagine them to be. Face you Fear and Do it Anyway.

You will need to check surrounding Cards to determine exactly what is going on but The Reversed Nine of Swords can suggest you may be coming out of depression or the issue or situation you worried about so much has not come to pass. You may have found a solution or have sought  help which has brought a release from the intense pressure you have been experiencing.  With your problems shared they may have halved.  Communication is key here and vital.  Start talking about it and keep talking.  Get it all off your chest.  If a guilty conscience has been plaguing you then owning up, confessing and bringing things out in the open may remove the strain you have been living under.  However,  you may still be experiencing shame and cannot face the world. Dark secrets may be destroying you on a soul level.

If The Upright Nine of Swords was not nasty enough for you, then it can get even worse when it Reverses. You may discover you have had good reason to be worried. It may not have been all in your head after all as your reality begins to mirror your worst nightmares. You may indeed have something terrible to worry about or something awful has happened to you or around you.  Your worst fears have been realised. You will have to face your fears with courage and resilience.

Insomnia can become entrenched and eat away at your physical and mental health or your sleeping pattern begins to settle down once more. It will depend on surrounding Cards to determine which aspect is exerting its influence.

On the other hand, the wild imaginings of the Upright can intensify or progress into hallucinations, deep paranoia.  Neurosis turns into psychosis and the mind begins to fragment.  Professional help is needed urgently as the person is no longer in control of their mind, may be a danger to themselves or to others.

Where Relationships are concerned, if involved in an affair, then it may have been uncovered. You might be under attack from all sides.  What have you done? Then again, unable to carry your secret any longer, you may decide to confess your indiscretions to your partner and bring it out into the open.  The suspicions you had about your partner could be validated leaving you absolutely destroyed. However, it may have all been in your head as you let your wild imagination run away with you or listened to malicious gossip.

A violent and abusive relationship could intensify when the Nine of Swords Reverses.  Depending on surrounding Cards, there may be real cause for concern.  Here we also see the scenario of false regret or remorse from the perpetrator to the victim and promises of ‘it will never happen again’. They may be dysfunctional good intentions but will not last. However you may have found the strength to get out and have freed yourself. If a turbulent relationship has calmed down, it has been as a result of seeking counselling, truthful and open communication and airing grievances. A new way forward is found or an agreement to separate.

Work Related, the stress and conflict you have been experiencing has passed or becomes worse. After a long period of unemployment a job is secured at last or you find it impossible to find a job. If working for yourself, you might be weighing up whether all the stress and worry has been worth it. Your business may have collapsed taking you with it or you discover that things weren’t so bad after all. You accept it is time to seek outside help and advice.

You need to go back to the preceding Eight of Swords to realise that many of your problems and fears may have been self-inflicted.  You may need to admit that you need help to free yourself for these are certainly trying times.

Brief VersionsAce of Swords   Two (II) of Swords  Three (III) of Swords   Four (IV) of Swords  Five (V) of Swords        Six (VI) of Swords  Seven (VII) of Swords  Eight (VIII) of Swords  Nine (IX) of Swords  Ten (X) of Swords

Brief VersionsWands  Cups  Swords   Pentacles

Back to 78 Cards – Brief Page

The 78 Cards – Detailed Study Version (Card Description, Keywords, Upright & Reversed Meanings)

The 78 Cards – Shortened Version (Keywords, Upright & Reversed Meanings)


Copyright © 2006-2013 Vivien Ní Dhuinn
Truly Teach Me Tarot Part I

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