Nine (IX) of Swords

Nine (IX) of Swords –

The Dark Night of The Soul, Bereft, Despair

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,


Card Imagery Description

Before us lies the Nine of Swords, one of the most depressing and Dark Cards in the Tarot.  Anyone happening to come upon the scene depicted, whether friend or foe, would not be able to feel upset and worried for the wretched soul in front of us.

Sitting bolt upright in bed, is a woman. She has either been woken from her restless sleep or more than likely cannot sleep at all. In her feverish insomnia and obvious wild despair, she has flung back the bedspread, leaving her exposed to the cold of the night air.  Beds are typically places we go to for rest, sleep, recuperation and sometimes as an escape from the stresses of the day or life.  The bed the woman sits in offers no such comfort or sanctuary.  She can neither lie on it or stay in it. She may have been woken from her sleep by a nightmare, harrowing thoughts or has not been able to get to sleep due to the overwhelming worries she carries with her.

All those Swords are weighing heavily on her as she sits in bed. These are all the Swords she has accumulated on her journey. The Figure in the Nine looks in despair and bereft of any logical thinking. She is in a terrible state of sorrow or mourning and feels she cannot share her problems or express them properly. She cannot face anyone.

We all experience restless night’s sleep at some stage or other and it is a rare person who has not suffered from the odd bout of insomnia.  Some of us have busy minds that have difficulty switching off at night while others worry and stress about an incident of the day or something they have to do the next. We can twist and turn, finding it impossible to settle into a comfy position or fail to feel the waves of drowsiness descend which slip us into blissful oblivion.  Generally, these periods of insomnia or disturbed night’s sleep do not last very long and generally settle down once the unsettling time has passed.

We cannot expect the same when the Nine of Swords appears and this woman is most certainly not, merely restless or going through a bad patch.  The woman is in complete despair. She is a mess. She sits there holding her head in her hands and is probably crying her eyes out.  Something really awful or unimaginable is going on in her life or in her mind.  This is not the result of miscellaneous problems of the day or the worry of attending a job interview the next.  The woman’s stress and anguish is acute and heavy.  The black background symbolises the bleak, dark depression that threatens to engulf her. She is all alone in her nightmare and quite possibly unreachable.

The black surrounding atmosphere of this Card tells us two things. Firstly, it is night and no matter how bad we think our dilemma during the daytime, we can multiply that by ten when nighttime approaches, especially when we climb into our beds in search of sleep.  During the day, there may be distractions to keep our mind off our problems, people coming and going, family to take care of, traffic on the road, work to go to or household chores to complete and even shopping to be done.  However, once lights are switched out and the neighbourhood falls into silence along with our own abode, the despair and depression creeps in from every corner and surrounds us.  With only the ticking of the clock and the odd creak of floor boards now and then, we have hours of empty silence ahead of us to let our mind run wild with our problems and distress.

We replay the incident, issues, conversations, actions over and over in our head.  Like a broken record they get caught in a loop and just go round and round, driving us mad.  We try everything to take our minds off to somewhere else and remember advice in magazines and books telling us to visualise a lovely garden or beach scene and take our selves to it.  With the problems this  woman has, no beautiful garden or beach is going to lure her away for she is suffocating under the weight of her burden.  They cannot be ignored or suppressed when The Nine of Swords appears.

The darkness wraps itself around her like a damp heavy cloak. Black also represents the absence of colour and light and this is where this woman resides.  She is held prisoner in the dark and windowless depths of her mind.  Over her head hang Nine Swords, each and every one showing their double-edge.  We have already learned that the Sword with its double edge cuts both ways.  It can heal or hurt, it can be helpful or destructive.  The Nine Swords represent the accumulation of this woman’s stress and torment from Ace to Nine and they weigh heavily on her.  There was rarely a time when she had any respite from them throughout her journey, and now they have all come home to roost.

As we stare at the Nine Swords above her, they can take on the appearance of bars in a prison cell.  She is certainly a prisoner, but then again, she always has been in one sense or another. Every attempt she has made to free herself from the horrors of her predicaments have failed miserably.  We must ask ourselves why? She is a Sword’s person and Swords are known to be bright, intelligent and analytical.  They use their logic and reason to find solutions to any problems or difficult scenarios.  They keep their head in a crisis and restore calm to chaotic situations.  So why can the woman not apply these abilities and skills to her own situation?  There is a very good reason for her inability to use her Swords to sever the bonds that incarcerate her. She is using the wrong side of her Sword, that is why. The side of the Sword that hurts either externally or internally is the only side she is familiar with.

The woman’s problems have grown to crescendo level and there is not much more she can take. This being a Nine Card tells us that it is the end of the line for her.  She either sorts herself out once and for all or collapses under the pressure and goes down.  The thing is the choice is hers for she does have the other edge of the Sword to call on and work with in order to help her out of the nightmare she is living in. If she uses her mind, her natural intelligent gift, the way it was always meant to be used, then it will work with her and help her find solutions.  It will also help her use another of its gift, the art of communication.  This woman sits alone in the dark, consumed with fear, turned inwards, stomach clenched in knots, sweat trickling down her back.  Why is it that no one is with her? Why does she have no one to comfort or soothe her with reassuring words? Someone should be holding her hand, staying with her through her dark time, cooling her fevered brow and making sure she eats but she is alone.  If she is not using her Sword gift wisely, then she is not accessing its gift of communication.

There is a real possibility that this woman has told no one of her depths of despair and that is worrying.  She has kept her problems to herself and as a result they have multiplied and multiplied, three times over.  Three of the Swords in the Imagery appear to pierce her heart and head, symbolising that she is tormented on an emotional and psychological level.  Once the heart and mind get entangled so, all reason and logic goes out the window and wild imaginings can take over.  What persecutes this woman may be too awful to tell or impossible to put into words. Instead she alienates herself from life and those who might be in a position to help her.  She remains in isolation, solitary confinement and with no one to keep her perspective in check, her mind goes further into meltdown.  Looking at the Nine of Swords again, they now resemble nine steps leading up from the depths of a dark basement.  This suggests that there is a way out of her predicament should she choose to take it.  She has the power within her to break free from her limiting and repressive state.

At the top of those basement or dungeon steps is a door, and behind that door is light  and people who will help her take her problems one by one and assist her find solutions. What she is coping with is too much at this stage and mentally she is overwhelmed.  She can help herself if she could just stop crying for a moment and look up.  Then she will see the steps and realise that she is not trapped after all.  She can then use her Swords to heal her and not hurt her.  It is a choice that only she can make but we must remember that this woman has consistently had the power to help herself throughout the whole Suit.

Except for her one attempt at getting help in The Four of Swords, her only other response was to try to run away from her problems in the Six of Swords. She didn’t get very far did she? The last time we encountered this woman, she was bound up with ropes, blindfolded and held prisoner by her own Swords. Nothing has really changed, even though we had hoped for so much.  We had left the woman with the real hope she would realise that she could free herself if she could just make the effort and lose her fear.  We had even visualised her ripping off the blindfold, tearing up the Swords and reclaiming her power.  We saw her scramble up the cliff side, her newly empowered Swords clutched in hand, on her way to seek help at the castle. She had been on the run for a long time and had made several futile attempts to outrun her problems and conflict but they always seemed to catch up with her.  What she was failing to understand was that the real problem, the source of all her torment and stress actually lay within and no matter how far she ran, it was always going to be there with her.

So now she sits here in her bed, in her prison cell of a room, incarcerated in her dysfunctional mind.  Once more she feels trapped, has no way out, and cannot bear the pain and despair that threatens to engulf her. She is suffering depression on a deep level. This is no attack of the blues or an ‘off day’ but rather a serious psychological state of mind.  Yes, her mind might indeed be cracking from the pressure of it all.

Perhaps she did free herself in The Eight of Swords and managed to seek sanctuary in the Castle. If she did, what sort of state did she arrive in we wonder? What had she got to say for herself when she turned up at their door shivering and mumbling with mental distress? Had they swiftly taken her in and sent for a doctor or perhaps they thought her a mad woman and sent her away?  Then again, she may not have freed herself at all and was discovered by someone from the castle out walking on the beach. She may have been catatonic and collapsed when found.  They would probably have called an ambulance or carried her back to the castle until help could arrive.  We now wonder if they have decided to keep her in the castle, to nurse her back to health or has she been taken away to a hospital or centre that deals with her specific problems?

Maybe she walked into another trap upon arrival at the castle and was swiftly thrown in the dungeons until they decided her fate. Who knows where her mind has taken her and there is also a good chance that it is only her that sees the dark black prison room around her.  The colourful duvet on the bed suggests that there is warmth and comfort to be had around her. If she pulled the duvet over her instead of leaving it at the end of the bed, she may feel a little better, a little warmer, a little safer. However, this would entail making an effort to reach out and grab hold of it. Does she have it in her to do even that much? It is hard to tell.  The blindfold has definitely been removed but she continues to cover her face and eyes.  What is it that she is afraid to see or face.  Can she not accept the truth and face the facts? She may prefer to stay in the dark for that is where she is most familiar with. She shields her eyes from the light that would require effort from her. The duvet is embroidered with signs of the zodiac and this symbolises that her dilemma is not going to be an easy fix but given time she can heal.

What we must now look at is the strong possibility in the Nine of Swords that this woman indeed has very real traumatic issues to face or worry about.  The Nine of Swords is known as the ‘Dark Night of The Soul’ Card and those who have had to deal with tragedy, trauma and calamity in life will recognise it only too well.  It can be a very distressing and isolating Card and has carried all kinds of terrible associations over the centuries.  As discussed earlier, the woman’s problems are not everyday ones.  They haunt her soul and totally consume her.  To try to get inside her head and understand the extent of her suffering we may have to think about what it feels like to be waiting on the results of your scan, the scan that will tell you whether you have successfully beaten cancer or not. To know what it feels like to wake in the night and remember that you have just lost your young child to illness, accident or murder. To feel the heartbreak when you partner or spouse leaves you for another. To wonder where you will get food to feed your children tomorrow or pay the bills.

The Nine of Swords often speaks of ill-health and not being strong enough to get out of bed. This woman may be battling with disease and pain.  She may not be able to see a future and indeed she may already have been told she will not have one. She might try to hide her suffering from those around her, in an attempt to protect them from upset, but she really needs to open up to someone so that she can release all her thoughts and fears.

Because this is a Nine Card, we must assume, the woman is coming to the end of a cycle and so in life she may be going through Menopause and all the changes it brings.  She may be unable to sleep because of night sweats and hormone related insomnia.  She may not be feeling well at all and is struggling to cope. It has all become too much for her. Again she needs to seek help, the right sort of help, for she may be able to relieve some of her pain.

Another possible reason this woman chooses to be on her own in the dark is that she has a terrible secret held deep within.  There may be nightly abuse which fills her with shame and disgust. She keeps this to herself perhaps because of her shame and the stigma attached to it or out of fear of punishment should she reveal it to anyone.  She may be in a very serious situation and close to break down.

Then again, the woman may have done something terrible and now has to live with the nightmare of it all.  Wracked with guilt and regret, she may have hurt or killed someone in a car accident, stolen money in work and got caught or she may be facing sentencing in her cell for a crime committed.  She may be hated by all and feel terrible alone. She may also be the victim of injustice and has been sentenced to jail, her white gown symbolising her innocence. She might be the victim of bullying or a hate campaign. On another level, she may be in torment over the fact that she has to tell her partner she is leaving him.

The Nine of Swords for centuries has been associated with convents, monasteries, monks, priests and nuns.  The Figure sitting in bed may be a holy or devoted person praying for our souls and living a life of celibacy, sacrifice and penance.

The Nine of Swords tells of imagined, exaggerated and very real, serious problems.  It will depend on the surrounding Cards to determine what it is that is going on.  This is a Card that carries heavy weight with it and should never be ignored or dismissed in a Reading as it is often a silent cry for help.  In the Nine, the Swords Suit is nearing the peak of their energy,  so stress, worries and conflict may reach an unbearable level. The person in question may be in danger of a complete breakdown or worse. There would be serious concern for the Querant should other bleak Sword Cards appear and Reversed Courts, especially the Reversed Page of Swords.

Because this is the Swords Suit, we must always remember that things may not be as bad as the woman is making them out to be.  This may be nothing more than a continuation of the attitude and beliefs of the Eight of Swords. It may just be her perception of the situation that has been blown out of proportion.  She may think things to be worse than they really are.  She may be doing all this worrying for nothing.  This is a problem in itself because if she is having this strong reaction to a more simplistic problem, then paranoia or manic depression may be driving it.  She may be a highly strung person who makes a drama out of everything while people stand around wondering what all the fuss is about.  It really depends on the surrounding Cards to determine how serious the situation really is.

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.

*When we next visit the Swords in the final stage of their journey, Card Ten, it will be with growing concern for their general well-being and state of mind.  Something has to happen to free them from their misery for they cannot go on in this manner forever.  It is not a life but merely an existence.  Only so much stress can be taken before one snaps altogether.  Let us hope it does not go that far. We shall have to wait and see.

Back to Lesson 9

Ace of Swords 2 of Swords 3 of Swords 4 of Swords 5 of Swords 6 of Swords 7 Swords 8 of Swords 9 of Swords  10 of Swords

Aces Intro Twos Intro Threes Intro Fours Intro Fives Intro Sixes Intro Sevens Intro Eights Intro Nines Intro Tens Intro

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

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

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14 replies »

  1. The nine of swords is certainly a bleak , dark and disturbing card taken on its own but read in conjunction with the other two cards I pulled as a quick reading for myself ( viz. the Knight of Cups and the Four of Swords) it fits in very well and explains where I am at the moment. Thank you for sharing your deep knowledge and insight.


  2. What an intense reading on the 9 of swords reversed in future position. You nailed it.
    Love the lost at sea analogy. Thank you.


  3. Pingback: Digital Self
  4. I am an analyst by trade, and Nine of Swords frequently comes up in the context of data analysis which can be quite a painful process.


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