When you experience a realization of just how horrible a situation has become, the Nine of Swords will appear in your reading. This is the card of waking up from a nightmare. But all too often, it is the card that reveals our miscalculations and vices have made this nightmare all too real in our waking life.
A person is sitting up in bed in the dark of night. Let’s suppose that this is you. Your hands are over your face. Your legs are covered by a quilt, which is decorated in a checkerboard floral arrangement. On the black wall of the bedroom float 9 swords. Their handles line up above the pillow of the bed and they all extend beyond the frame of the card. None of their points are visible.
It is as if the scene has captured the moment this person woke up from a bad dream, sat up and threw her hands over her face in the realization that she was living a nightmare. The checkerboard pattern of the quilt implies that the person has been playing a game, covering herself in a strategy that has obviously failed. The flowers of the quilt alternate with squares that feature symbols of the zodiac. The metaphor of the quilt covering this person was the certainty that she could see the future when she did not even understand her own nature.
The swords are floating above her consciousness and the fact that they do not have their points illustrated in the picture indicates that the trouble this person is in has not yet been resolved. This is the card that underscores one’s state of hysteria regarding just how bad things are about to get and knowing one’s actions are to blame. There is no way to nicely say it: The Nine of Swords is just about as bad a card as you can draw from the Tarot deck. It is a card that confronts you to accept responsibility for your actions even as it refuses to divulge the impact these sins will have.
Meaning in Past, Present and Future Positions
Each Tarot reading covers the past, the present and the future. This is a chance to see the flow of events and choices you make reinforcing particular energies. Cards land in each of these categories and allow you to see these time periods in a new context. This frame of reference is a way to isolate the confusion of mixed signals and see where you have been, where you stand now and where you are going in a single vision.
When the Nine of Swords is in the past position, there are deep issues of having been responsible for something terrible or for feeling guilty about an old tragedy. This card carries tension wherever it goes and you will be forced to reassess your role in a long-forgotten tribulation. Perhaps this reflects a bad childhood or particularly sad moment that led you to where you are now. Understand that there is no right and wrong in this card; the Nine of Swords just shows the effects of choices you made and emotions that resulted from actions that may or may not have been your responsibility.
In the present position, the Nine of Swords underscores the stress under which you are currently afflicted. A recent death or loss can bring this card about as a manifestation of your inner pain. The swords pointing off the card here reinforce that no firm direction is known when one is lost in agony.
The Nine of Swords is most unwelcome when it is drawn in the future position. What are you doing now in your life that you may soon regret? If there is one silver lining in receiving this card in your reading it is that it speeds up the reading’s “future.” Many readings deliver a forecast for a future that is years, perhaps even decades off. The Nine of Swords speeds up the reading’s future to be more likely in a 48-hour window. If the reading has been about your economic situation, the Nine of Swords in this position would indicate a foreclosure, a layoff or an unexpected loss on an investment. A love reading that has the Nine of Swords show up in the future position almost always indicates a breakup, separation, a terrible argument or a discovery that you or your partner have been unfaithful.
More than one card is drawn in a Tarot Reading and each card that is included informs the others, just as any one card gets influenced by those other cards placed around it.
The Nine of Swords is related to The Hermit card and emphasizes the loneliness aspect of this powerful Tarot card. If The Hermit or The Sun (card #19) are in a reading with the Nine of Swords, the loneliness and responsibility aspects of your miasma are amplified.
When the Nine of Swords is in a reading that features The Empress card, look for a shopping spree or lack of financial responsibility to cause you much anguish. If The Hanged Man card is drawn, you definitely took too long to decide or held out in a negotiation for more that never arrived.
Sword cards are generally indicative of words and expressing ideas. When the Ace of Swords is in a reading with the Nine of Swords you are suffering under the weight of what was said publicly; either by yourself or by someone about you.
The good news is that there are a few cards in the Tarot deck that greatly reduce and minimize the effects of the Nine of Swords on your reading. The Fool is a card that says your worries in the middle of the night are a waste of time and that there is no impact beyond your self-inflicted guilt. The Wheel of Fortune card ensures that the pain you suffer will be short-lived and should prove to be something that brings about success in an unexpected way. The Magician card does not take away the pain that has been caused, but gets you exonerated from any blame in the tragic matter at hand. The Queen of Swords understands the trouble you have gone through and sees to it that your suffering will be short and a recovery of what you had prior to your unfortunate choices is coming soon.