Nine of Swords

Element: AIR

Upright: Fears, Anxiety, Negative Thoughts
Reversed: Light at the End of the Tunnel, Recovering / Breakdown, Depression

Symbology, Meaning and Interpretation


Fears, Anxiety, Negative Thoughts.

The card’s design reveals to us a restless night of a man disturbed by his darkest thoughts and agitated mind.

The night symbolises our subconscious minds at this moment, enigmatic and disquieting; while the swords on the wall are the negative and anxious state of mind or thoughts that shape the present times.

The figure seems to awake from a nightmare or maybe he just cannot sleep. He may have a heavy conscience, blaming himself for the past tragedies, thinking it could have been prevented somehow. The Nine of Swords says, however, that the situation was inevitable and beyond his control.

It also suggests that we are worrying too much about a situation that increases our anxiety and keeps us awake all night. As we focus on the worst-case scenarios, we act unconsciously in ways that support our negative expectations. For example, the golden crown on the floor, a symbol of our goals, is guarded by a venomous snake, impeding us to reach it. But the truth is, the snake may not really exist, it is probably a mental projection of our mistrust. Or, even if it is real, it is much smaller than we pictured it and could be easily removed from our way.

Note that the swords on the wall are connected with each other, creating a pattern. This mental structure made by the swords reflect our pessimistic and awful thoughts, working in cycles, pulling us deep down.

You are passing through a dark period that may deceive your vision of things.

It is not a bad idea to look for help, for someone to give you a different perspective of the world.


Light at the End of the Tunnel, Recovering / Breakdown, Depression.

The Nine of Swords reversed is often a card of hope, a beacon in our darkest times.

It is a card about recovering from depression, alleviating stress, and letting go of pessimistic thoughts. You finally faced your fears and realised that things are not as bad as you believed. This new perspective helps you to get up and move forward in your life.

In reverse, most cards in the Minor Arcana may have contrasting meanings, depending on the circumstances. The Nine of Swords is no exception and the negative attributes of the upright version seem to get worse.

Saying that, instead of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, you may feel more wrapped in darkness and negativity. Your world may seem to collapse, making you more depressed, feeling deep regret and guilt and sometimes leading you to a nervous breakdown.