Upright: Depression, nightmares, intense anxiety, despair
Reversed: Hopelessness, severe depression, torment

The Nine of Swords shows a woman with her head in her hands, sitting up in her bed. She appears to have just woken up from a bad nightmare, and is obviously upset, fearful and anxious following her dream. Nine swords hang on the wall behind her and the base of the bed is decorated with a carving of a duel in which one person is being defeated by another. The quilt covering the woman is decorated with roses and the outlines of astrological symbols.

The Nine of Swords is the card of fear and nightmares, and has an apparently negative ‘feel’ to it. However, the troubles alluded to in the Nine of Swords are primarily of a psychological nature and do not necessarily indicate suffering in your external reality. That is, it is what is inside your mind that is creating the fear and anxiety, not your actual circumstances. Your experience of the world is greatly influenced by our expectations, desires, and fears, and therefore you are largely the creator of your own world, and your attitudes determine how you experience that world.
The Nine of Swords can also reflect fear of the future, or what may possibly happen in the future. If you allow yourself to be bound by fear of the future, you are at risk of eventually creating a negative reality for yourself by virtue of your expectations. Your nightmare becomes your self-fulfilling prophecy, which is clearly not a desirable outcome.
Generally, this card is an indication that you are worrying excessively about a situation. You are literally being kept up at night because you are so anxious about a particular issue. It is possible you are working yourself up unnecessarily and, if you were to look at the situation more objectively, you may come to realise that it is not as bad as you are making it out to be. In fact, all that worry and despair is what is making it worse, so rather than fretting about it, do something to change it.
Although most people experience fear, frustration and uncertainty at some point in their lives, you should not allow those negative emotions to immobilise you or keep you from pursuing your goals with enthusiasm and hope. Expect at least some level of uncertainty in the future, and draw upon your inner strength to remain as flexible and adaptable to that uncertainty as possible.
The Nine of Swords can also indicate that you are being incredibly hard on yourself, putting yourself down or engaging in negative self-talk. For every mistake you make, you blame yourself and become worked up and angry at yourself for messing up again. So, when the Nine of Swords appears in a reading, ask yourself why you are being so hard on yourself, how are you putting yourself down or what is the source of your depression? What can you do to make yourself feel better? You may need to make a more conscious effort to quit the negative self-talk and replace it with positive reinforcement for a job well done.

The Nine of Swords is about worry, anxiety and not being able to sleep because your thoughts are running at one hundred miles an hour. Reversed, the Nine of Swords indicates that you are working yourself up and becoming incredibly stressed and anxious when, really, this does not have to be a complicated issue. You have a tendency to get very worked up about how bad a situation appears, losing sight of what it is really happening and what opportunities are available to you. What is needed here is for you to stop and objectively examine the reality of the situation. Bring yourself back to earth by uncovering your fears and anxieties and working to reduce the impact of those fears and anxieties on your life. Know that it is going to be ok, no matter what.
The Nine of Swords reversed also suggests that your worry and despair may actually be causing you harm. The more you worry about something, the more likely it is you will manifest your worst nightmares. Do not let this nightmare become your reality! Take a deep breath and realise that life is not as bad as it seems and that the more you worry, the more harm you are doing to yourself.
It is also possible that you have already worked through this period of worry and depression and are beginning to make a recovery. You may have recently come to the realisation that it is not as bad as you had made it out to be, and you are beginning to relax and calm yourself about what was once a terrifying situation.
You may also find that your dreams are very telling at this time. Use a dream journal to help you analyse what is happening at a subconscious level.



It makes sense that the figure on the Nine of Swords is in bed because it is during the night that our griefs and regrets come to mind most intensely. The quiet darkness strips away the distractions of the day, leaving us alone with our thoughts. Who has not lain awake at 4 A.M. filled with worries that refuse to go away? The Nine of Swords represents this unhappiness which can strike us at any time.

Unlike the pain of the Three of Swords which seems to come from without, the Nine of Swords represents the pain that we generate from within. What tortures we put ourselves through when our fears and doubts overwhelm us. Worry is probably the most common. Have I done enough? Will everything work out OK? What am I going to do? The thoughts go round and round – impossible to turn off.

Guilt is another source of pain. When we have done something that we feel is wrong or hurtful – or failed to do something we think we should have – the distress can be very real. It is worse when nothing we do relieves the bad feelings or makes them go away. Finally, there is just pure anguish. Sometimes the pain of life is so total that all we feel like doing is crying into our hands.

Needless to say, the Nine of Swords is not the most pleasant of cards, but it doesn’t always indicate major distress. Often it is just a sign of some element of unhappiness or trouble – a vulnerable spot in your life. This card is often a warning from your Inner Guide that the path you are going down may be a difficult one. If you approach the Nine of Swords in this spirit – as a caution sign – you will be able to use it constructively. Examine your situation carefully to be sure you are making the best choices. Even a small change can make all the difference.


General Meaning
The Nine of this suit has a special resonance with the Middle Ages, because it figures the plight of a woman who is alone in the world, during the centuries when women had no personal rights, no ability to inherit property or use the law in their own defense. We generally see her sitting up in bed weeping, grieving and in fear of abandonment because of her vulnerability, wondering what will happen to her now that her protector (father, brother, husband, or son) is gone.
The swords above her head may indicate that the loss has come through some cruel conflict, the outcome of which has left her behind as chattel, the spoils of war. Really what we are looking at is the price of pride, which creates losers as a side effect of glorifying winners. The woman in the picture represents the concerns of the heart, the damage to the soul and to vulnerable ones, when the ego-mind becomes so invested in control and domination that it does not count the human costs. A sensitive, subtle, heartfelt approach to nature (the “feminine”) is trampled and thrown aside in service to a “winner takes all” mentality.

In the Advice Position
Honestly admit to yourself that you have sacrificed time and energy on a situation that simply does not work.
The card in the Advice position suggests a course of action which will harmonize what you want with what is currently possible.
The Nine of Swords in this position advises you to confront your fear of being alone and acknowledge the different limits you may have put on yourself because of that fear. In the name of being safe, you may have adhered to lower standards than you are capable of achieving. If so, then you may have resisted striking out on your own. Perhaps you have bargained away creativity and joy in order to avoid being challenged. These kinds of tradeoffs never work.
This could be a time to cut your losses. If so, recognize how much time and energy you have sacrificed to a way of being that’s not right for you. If you can do this you will look back at this time in your life as a turning point. This may be an opportunity to heal as you shed a heavy burden that weighs you down.


Nine of Swords Tarot Card Key Meanings:
Fear, anxiety, terror, negativity, deep unhappiness, stress, burden, overwhelmed, at breaking point, inability to cope or face life, mental anguish, guilt, regret, remorse, focusing on past, subject of gossip, isolation, making mountains out of molehills, joylessness, despair, nightmares, insomnia, hormonal, menopause, migraines

General meaning and interpretation
In a general context, the Nine of Swords is another of the fear and anxiety cards in the Suit of Swords. Similar to the other fear cards, this card is not an indication of negative events actually happening, just that your fear and anxiety levels are so high they are making you feel that things are worse than they are. In short, you may be making mountains out of molehills. It represents stress, burdens, negative thinking and deep unhappiness. You will be feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope with or face situations, problems or just life in general and may have reached your breaking point. It is a Minor Arcana card of mental anguish, remorse, guilt, regret, joylessness and despair and you may wish you could go back in time and re-write the past when it appears. It can also signify feeling isolated and being the subject of gossip and it can represent nightmares and insomnia.

In a health context, the Nine of Swords can signify anxiety disorders, mental health issues, insomnia and migraines. If you are struggling to cope, again this card indicates that you need to find healthy ways of managing your stress and anxiety. Do not self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. This card can also indicate hormonal imbalances or menopause so if you have been struggling symptoms that could be hormonal, go get your levels checked! It can also signify a miscarriage, termination or problems conceiving.

Love & Relationships
In a love Tarot spread, if you are in a relationship the Nine of Swords indicates that your relationship is not a happy one at the moment. This Minor Arcana card signifies guilt, remorse and regret so it can be sign that keeping secrets, infidelity or deception is taking its toll on the relationship. Again, this card can be indicative of abuse or bullying and the mental and emotional anguish that goes with that. However, it can also simply signify that one of you is overwhelmed with stress or burdens or suffering from an anxiety disorder or hormonal issue that is making the relationship a challenge at the moment. If you are single, the Nine of Swords indicates that you may be dwelling on the past. Feelings of remorse, guilt or regret relating to past relationships may be overwhelming you and causing you deep unhappiness. You may be wishing you could go back in time and change the past. However, dwelling on it will not change it. You need to find a way to heal from the past and learn from it. Once you do that, you future will open up before you. This card can also indicate that you may find yourself being the subject of gossip.

Money & Career
In a career Tarot reading, the Nine of Swords suggests that you are deeply unhappy in your work at the moment. The stress and burdens of your work are overwhelming you. You may feel unable to cope and have reached your breaking point. It may be that the fear and severe anxiety are affecting your perspective and making you believe things are worse in your career situation than they actually are in reality. In a financial Tarot spread, the Nine of Swords indicates that your financial worries are overwhelming you and causing you severe stress and anxiety but you may be making mountains out of molehills. You need to get your negative thinking under control and look realistically at your finances. Are they really as bad as you think or can you resolve your issues?

In a spiritual context, the Nine of Swords indicates that the anxiety and stress you are experiencing at the moment has left you feeling overwhelmed, ungrounded and out of touch with your spiritual side. Reiki, grounding exercises or meditation would be beneficial to you right now to help you to get back in touch with your spirituality and bring you back into balance.
Nine of Swords Reversed Tarot Card Key Meanings:
Light at end of tunnel, recovering, improving, letting go of negativity/stress, learning to cope, facing life, opening up, accepting help, extreme guilt/regret/ remorse/shame, scandal/malicious gossip, night terror, total collapse/breakdown, hallucinations, giving up, depression/ problems/fears escalating, self-pity/loathing

General meaning and interpretation
In a general context, the Nine of Swords reversed represents seeing the light at the end of the tunnel after dark times. When reversed, it is a Minor Arcana card of recovering from depression or mental illness or issues improving, letting go of negativity, releasing stress and learning to cope. It signifies opening up, accepting help and facing life. Alternatively, this card can signify a worsening of the issues, depression, problems or fears associated with the upright card. As such, it can represent extreme guilt, remorse, shame, regret, burdens, negative thinking, self-pity, self-loathing or giving up, nervous breakdowns or total collapse. It can be an indication that there is malicious gossip or scandal around you. It can also represent night terrors, hallucinations and psychosis.

In a health context, the Nine of Swords reversed can represent overcoming depression, anxiety or fear related mental health issues and feeling able to cope with life again after such issues. Alternatively, as a reversed card it can signify an escalation in such issues, representing psychosis, hallucinations and extreme night terrors. Look to supporting card to find out which meaning applies. It can also be an indicate of hormones coming back into balance so if you have been suffering from a hormone related issues such as PCOS, thyroid problem or symptoms associated with menopause, you should find the symptoms reduce or go away completely when it appears.

Love & Relationships
In a love Tarot spread, if you are in a relationship the Nine of Swords reversed can indicate that if there has been infidelity or deception in the relationship it will now come to light. If you have cheated on your partner you may have come clean or been caught out as this card can indicate a scandal and extreme remorse, regret, guilt or shame. If you have had suspicions about your partner, unfortunately, the appearance of this card can signify that your fears will be confirmed. However, there is a release associated with this reversed Minor Arcana card as it shows the issues being brought to a head so you can face them and move on. Again, if not relating to deception, this card may relate to you or your partner having mental health/ anxiety issues. They will either improve, bringing light into the relationship, or spiral, causing more upheaval in your relationship. The supporting cards should give you an indication of which applies. If you are single, the Nine of Swords reversed can indicate that you are starting to see the light at the end of tunnel after a period of despair. You are finally starting to let go of feelings of remorse, guilt or regret relating to past relationships that were haunting you and causing you deep unhappiness. You are getting ready to go back out and re-join the world. Alternatively, this card can indicate a worsening of those feelings and sinking deeper, what are you beating yourself up for? You can’t change the past. You can only learn from it and move forward the best way you know how. So give yourself a break! This card can also indicate that you may find yourself in the middle of scandal, so make sure you are acting with integrity and that potential suitors are not already spoken for!

Money & Career
In a career Tarot reading, the Nine of Swords reversed suggests that the stress and burdens of your work either get better or worsen. You may have found a way to release your worries and realise that your career is not as bad as you thought. Or you may have lost your job or business or you may have collapsed or suffered a breakdown because of the stress. It is two sides of a coin with this reversed card so the supporting cards will tell the story. In a financial Tarot spread, the Nine of Swords reversed again indicates that either you financial worries have passed and things are looking up again or they are overwhelming you to the point of a breakdown. If it’s the latter, seek professional help or share you concerns with friends. Don’t allow financial worries to take over your life. It’s not worth sacrificing your mental health over.

In a spiritual context, the Nine of Swords reversed can indicate that you have overcome the darkness and once again can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Alternatively, it can signify that you are in an extremely dark place and are being far too hard on yourself. Feelings of guilt, remorse and regret are simply the universe’s way of letting you know you have gone slightly off course and guiding you back to your spiritual path so if those feelings are overwhelming you simply change direction in your life and allow the universe to guide you. Don’t give up on yourself!