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The Meaning of
the "Nine of Swords" Tarot Card

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What is the inverted meaning of
the "Nine of Swords"?

The Meaning of the "Nine of Swords"
Tarot Card


The Symbolism of the Nine of Swords

In the Nine of Swords, a man sits up in bed, head in his hands. Whether he is experiencing night terrors or just a bad dream, it's clear that mental anguish is depicted here.

The carved scene and construction of the bed also suggest a tomb, similar to the one depicted in the Four of Swords, adding to the nightmarish quality of the card.

... night terrors or just a bad dream, it's clear that mental anguish is depicted here.

What was he dreaming about? The artist may have left us a clue with the scene carved onto the side of the bed; It depicts a violent defeat in a duel with swords.

Above the bed, nine swords are aligned facing to the right. The rightward direction of the swords symbolizes destiny — possibly a real-life duel in the man's future.

Roses and zodiac symbols decorate the quilt lying over the bed. The reference to planets and signs on the quilt reinforces the concept of destiny — as if the scene carved on the side of the bed has already been foretold.

NOTE: Is the person on the Nine of Swords a man or a woman? The stressed-out sleeper is typically thought of as being male. Both the short haircut and the carved depiction of a violent duel to the death — an almost exclusively male activity throughout history — support that thinking. However, there's little in the way of physically identifying characteristics to be sure. The gender of the person in the Nine of Swords is, as with everything in Tarot, open to your interpretation.


How to Interpret the Nine of Swords

Anxiety, worry, paranoia, fear, uncertainty, stress; They are all here. The picture on the card says it all: All the things that keep you up at night are referenced by the Nine of Swords.

...the card may either represent a specific person who's experiencing an unhealthy amount of stress, or it may represent an event which has an association with severe anxiety

Depending on the reading, the card may either represent a specific person who's experiencing an unhealthy amount of stress, or it may represent an event which has an association with severe anxiety or worry.

When the Nine of Swords appears in a tarot spread it's often a reminder to put our stress in perspective. Fear and uncertainty have a way of maginifying themselves over time, and with enough worry, we can manifest our fears into negative outcomes.

The Nine of Swords may also indicate a past event which haunts us for many years. When the Nine of Swords appears, it may be a reminder that a past stress-inducing event is over now, and belongs in the past. Perhaps the time has come to let it go?

Generally speaking, the Nine of Swords is a negative card. It carries overtones of conspiracy, betrayal, insomnia and self doubt.


The Nine of Swords Inverted

As with the upright position of the Nine of Swords, the reversed position also represents stress and anxiety — but the message is somewhat more positive.

...someone is experiencing stress and anxiety needlessly — or perhaps at levels that are unwarranted.

The reversed Nine of Swords suggests that someone is experiencing stress and anxiety needlessly — or perhaps at levels that are unwarranted.

There are times when we dwell only on the worst case scenario or we are mindful only of the most negative aspects of something.

When the inverted Nine of Swords appears in a reading, it suggests that someone needs to bring their stress-levels into alignment with reality — and reality might not be so bad.

Alternatively, the reversed Nine of Swords may reference the closure of a uncertain period in someone's life, or the ending of an anxiety-filled event — and the dawn of a less stressful day.

In general, the Nine of Swords card in an inverted position is a positive card. It still carries some uncertainty and worry, but it heralds the beginning of a more positive phase.

Now you're ready for a free tarot reading:

Time to put your newfound tarot knowledge to use? iFate's online tarot readings are easy enough for beginners, and powerful enough for experts. Try a free tarot reading now.

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