9 of Swords: Nightmare and fears

Image – the Wheel of the Year Tarot

CardBack_WTYIn this deck, nine swords bite into the ground, like words that bite deep. A woman is chased down a path by a flock of crows. She is dressed in mourning colors, and screams as she runs. She is approaching her lowest point, shown in the ten of swords.

The more traditional tarot image for the 9 of swords is a figure sitting up in bed after a nightmare, nine swords hanging on the wall behind them. In both cases, the person in the card finds themselves alone in the dark, in a situation fueled by adrenaline and fear.

Meaning: The 9 of Swords

The Nine of Swords is a card about overwhelm. If the Ten of Swords is the card of rock bottom, of losing everything, the Nine is the card that gets us there. In the “story” of this deck, it seems that this woman is the one who weeps on the tomb of the Ten. She is venturing into the night graveyard to visit a grave.

She faces difficulties, she feels lost and alone and overwhelmed, but she cannot see what lies ahead, or know yet the point where the end of one journey becomes the beginning of the next. She is stuck, trapped here… partly because of her own perspective.

The Nine’s Advice for You

Swords are ideas or words. Nines are journeys nearing completion, the effort before the end result. Eights can be about boundaries and messages. Tens are endings, completions. Nines are the actions between the eights and the tens.

This can be a hopeful card, reminding us that there is light in the darkness and that the Wheel always turns. This is an indicator to check your path and make sure you are still heading in the right direction. Perhaps most importantly, this card gives us encouragement to keep moving. We must all get out into the world and face those fearful things that can drag us down.

Sometimes, just the act of facing the fear or the danger – of facing the world – sometimes, maybe that’s enough. Set out, one step at a time, and know that the path will eventually lead you back through the dark and into the light… if you have the courage and strength of will to keep moving.

Siobhan over at Little Red Tarot wrote a beautiful, powerful piece on the form this shadow-work can take. Working with the 9 of Swords takes courage, but can bring deeply healing release.

This card can be a warning of coming difficulties or hard times ahead. If your reading is to find out more about a situation you’ve been worried about, your fears are probably well founded. With some foresight and warning, you can prepare yourself to deal with the situation as best you can, and emerge on the other side stronger and wiser.

The Nine’s Questions for You

Do you feel guilt or shame in your current situation? It’s time to face it, and the only way out is through. Can you right what wrongs you can, and move on from those you can’t? 

Are you facing a dark night of the soul? Look to the surrounding cards to inform your way forward. Can you reach within, and out to your loved ones, to find your right path? 


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