As a reminder, the suit of swords is driven by masculine energy and channels the power of the intellect and mind, including all the concepts, knowledge, and beliefs that it holds. Scholars and academics have connected the suit of swords to the classical element of air, and most of the cards from that suit embody the symbolic attributes of this element, one way or another.
Nine of Swords card: Traditional meanings
Furthering the series of negative concepts regularly found within the suit of swords, the nine of swords represents helplessness, nightmares, and great anxiety. In a professional reading, this card might also be the bleak echo of some long-lasting depression or illusions about a perceived lack of self-worth. Alone against their environment, the subject of the nine of swords meaning will be the architect of their own despair and usually, require help from some outside element to find a way out of this large labyrinth of anxiety.
Upright: Nightmares, depression, despair, guilt, and oppression.
Reversed: Torment, personal torture, and insomnia.
Upright Nine of Swords card
The Rider-Waite Smith Tarot deck once again provides a rather depressing and bleak scene for one of the numbered cards in the suit of swords. In this card from the Minor Arcana, we can see a woman in her bed, but sitting up instead of lying down, with her head in her hands. The background of the scene is black, and the nine swords from the cards are seen displayed on top of one another as if held on a rack in the wall.
We can easily imagine that the woman has a hard time sleeping, or has just woken up from a particularly striking nightmare. Several astrological symbols can be noticed, hidden in the decorative squares of her blanket.
Furthering the negative theme of the numbered cards in the suit of Swords, the nine of swords has nothing positive to offer, whether it is drawn with its right side up, or drawn reversed.
The core meaning of the nine of swords in a tarot reading echoes what could be deducted from a cursory glance at the picture: both depression and nightmares are valid interpretations of this card. These nightmares can be the results of self-inflicted doubts or regrets or the expression of some kind of guilt on the part of the subject of the reading.
Reversed Nine of Swords card
When a reversed nine of swords is drawn in a tarot reading or appears in a tarot spread, the feeling of intense torment and depression is even stronger and should be taken even more seriously. On top of that, it could also represent the slow erosion of hope within the subject’s mind, slowly sapping their own sense of self-worth.
A reversed nine of swords can also represent a much more literal interpretation of the illustration on the Rider Waite Smith tarot deck, and represent either insomnia or nightmares.
Nine of Swords and love
The nine of swords in a tarot reading focusing on life is just as bad as in any other context. The most common interpretation might be a slow erosion of any currently active relationship in the Querent’s life. It might also represent a particularly bad and painful relationship, leading to the kind of depression and nightmares that were mentioned above.
This is particularly true for many people who suffer from a toxic relationship, where their own lack of energy or despair keeps them stuck in a vicious cycle and taints their own perception of their relationship with falsehoods.