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.
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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.