Nine of Swords Tarot Card

Nine of Swords Tarot Card Meanings

What does the Nine of Swords card mean in a Tarot Reading?

Nine of Swords Tarot is a card symbolizing classic depression, fears, hard memories and remorse. You should hold yourself together as much as possible and be ready for a difficult period.
This card tells that life has become a nightmare. The whole world is heading towards the abyss. Your fears and worries are so great that it seems that further life is not worth it.
Called “The Lord of Despair and Cruelty”, this card represents suffering, cruel doubt and utter hopelessness. Although this card is primarily associated with the loss of a loved one as a result of his injury or illness, it can also indicate separation in a broader sense. In addition, the card can mean that you are taking on other people’s problems, whether you can solve them or not. As you pull out this card, you may be experiencing a sense of shame that needs to be recognized and overcome.
This card is similar to the Ten of Swords in that it heralds the near end of the “black streak in life”. However, the Nine indicates bad mood and pessimism as “leftovers” from past or even perceived problems rather than the problems themselves.

Goal: Let fear guide you on the path to maturity.
Element: Air
Planet: Mars, Moon, Saturn
Astrological sign: Gemini


The woman sits on the bed, desperately clasping her face in her hands. Her blanket is adorned with designs from the Zodiac, and a woodcut next to her bed depicts a fighter defeating an opponent in a melee fight.
(For a detailed depiction, analysis of the Symbols and all Elements of the Nine of Swords Tarot Card, click here)

The Main Meanings of the Card In an Upright Position

Key Words and Phrases

Sad, sleepless nights. Anxiety. Extreme stress. Bad feelings. Threats. Guilt. Torture. Experiences. Pain. Strong pain. Depression. Feeling worthless or overwhelmed. Demoralization. Thoughtfulness. Lack of confidence. Darkness and sadness. Agony of reason. Squalor. Cruelty. Malice. Slander. Sadness. Hopelessness. Misfortune. Tearful lamentation. Accusations. Self-loathing.

Nine of Swords Tarot Card Meanings

Surgical intervention. Unreasonable fears. A woman in pain. Health problems in women. Death probability. Nobody loves me. It’s my fault. I am bad.

The main meanings of the card in an upright position

doubts, hopelessness;
separation from a loved one;
denotes a person who takes on other people’s problems (they in no way concern him);
feeling of shame;
bad conscience;
overwork at work;
jitters before the exam;
unpleasant discovery;
fear of being “abandoned”;
suffering from loneliness;
sensitivity to criticism;
celibacy, virginity;
bachelor, celibacy, virginity, abbot, priest, monk, hermit, clergyman;
church, monastery, sanctuary;
recluse, hermit, vestal;
death, defeat, disappointment, despair, bad omen;
mental suffering, self-deprecation, accidents;
extreme failure, delays and deception, implacable enemy, evil fate;
suffering, heartache, bereavement;
serious illness, accident;
failures, disappointments;
betrayal, treason.

Nine of Swords. Witchcraft Tarot by Ellen Dugan
Witchcraft Tarot by Ellen Dugan

Situation and Advice

The Nine of Swords is a nightmare card. It depicts a woman bedridden and driven to despair by a debilitating illness. In fact, you may be suffering from sleep disturbances, which may be the result of anxiety about the outcome of a case. Someone’s malicious behavior can hurt you mentally and physically. You can be gripped by fear, experience feelings of guilt or doubt, experience anxiety, which is not at all justified. You are too sensitive to criticism and disrespect from the people around you. The difficulties that you picture in your imagination may not be so “black” in the light of day. Most likely, the situation is really problematic enough and you have to make a very difficult decision, but your worst fears still do not materialize. Your suffering is a consequence of those difficult circumstances that you experienced earlier. Sometimes this card can literally mean that there is a woman next to you who is suffering from mental or physical disorders and requires your help.

Persons designated by Upright Nine of Swords Tarot Сard

People who are worried or worried. Suffering from insomnia. People who are currently ill or preparing for surgery.

The Main Meanings of the Card In a Reversed Position

Key Words and Phrases

Positive values
Hope. Good news. Unreasonable worries. Faith. Confidence. Promise. Sun ray. Help in the near future. An end to suffering. The period of stress and anxiety is over. A new dawn. Feeling important. Nice dreams. There is nothing more to worry about. Light at the end of the tunnel. Time heals all wounds. The nightmare is over.

Negative values
Hard work. Anger. Insulation. Constant sadness. Privacy. Depression. Imprisonment. Slander. Malice. Bereavement. Suicide. Death. Limitation.

The main meanings of the card in a reversed position

good news for your beloved;
solid suspicion, fear;
purity, shyness;
fair distrust;
doubt, suggestion;
legibility, intimidated conscience, shame;
the need to strengthen faith, expectation of changes for the better, new hopes;
deep despair, self-doubt, fear, suspicion;
unreliable person influencing your situation;
hope for the best;
the need to pull yourself together, look at life more positively;
doubts, hesitation, self-doubt;
a person from the environment of the querent who cannot be trusted.

Situation and Advice

Nine of Swords. Black Grimoire Tarot
Black Grimoire Tarot

Positive aspect of the card: more often than not, the appearance of the reversed Nine of Swords in the spread means the end of nightmares. You can still experience the consequences of a difficult situation, but the pain is already subsiding. Your imagination, however, still paints the situation much worse than it really is. You are needlessly upset and worried, without any reason. Negative thoughts haunt you. The Nine of Swords in a reversed position is a card of hope. It gives faith in the future and promises better days. In this position, the Nine of Swords graciously softens all pain in the truest sense of the word. If the spread is generally negative, the Nine of Swords may simply confirm the overall meaning of the entire spread. Your depressed state will not only last, but may also worsen. You are too busy with painful experiences and you are in a state of persistent depression. Now is the time for you to be sad and desperate. However, even in the upright position, the Nine of Swords gives hope for improvement, albeit slowly.

Persons designated by the Reversed Nine of Swords Tarot Сard

Positive values
Those who cherish hopes for the future. Those who have experienced a nightmare situation.

Negative values
Sad people. Bereaved people. People with chronic insomnia.

In the Spreads

The general meaning of the card combines all aspects of internal experiences: negative thoughts, depression, fear, sadness, despair, shame, a sense of hopelessness, etc. Moreover, there is no external danger as such. This is a state of internal torment, unjustified hopes and destructive emotions.
Both the upright and reversed position of the Arcana carries a negative meaning in itself. However, if reversed, the Nine of Swords has a slightly more positive meaning. More details below.

In an Upright Position

The Nine of Swords of the Tarot means strong mental pain and suffering. A person is ready to take his own life. He is afraid of what people think and say behind his (her) back. Such fears (probably unfounded, but nevertheless real) cause severe anxiety, depression, and nervous tension. The Nine of Swords Tarot card is traditionally associated with accidents and illness, violence and cruelty. If a Nine hits a hand, the interpreter must be very tactful, and the surrounding cards can provide vital clues to accurate interpretation.
The upright Nine Swords of the Tarot symbolizes a period of despair and hopelessness. You may be overwhelmed by worries, heavy thoughts, anxiety and fear of the future. Negative emotions will come to the fore.
In an upright position, the Tarot card Nine of Swords corresponds to a state of deep melancholy and depression. It can be a bad conscience that prevents you from falling asleep, or a feeling of some kind of danger to life, for example, illness or bereavement. At the same time, the card does not tell what exactly oppresses a person: a feeling of their own guilt or shame, a feeling of lack of confidence in their abilities or some real danger threatening life. However, most often Arcana indicates harsh self-accusation and regret for what was done. If the card falls out in the position of the future, and the querent has not yet done what he is going to do, then the Nine of Swords should be understood as a warning: give up your intentions, do not do what you intended. You will truly regret what you did.
This unfavorable card predicts the onset of difficult events in life, which will require strength and courage from the querent.
Failure, complete crash of the plan, an accident, illness, breakdown of relations and, as a result of this, difficult experiences, suffering and mental pain – all this can mean the Nine of Swords. However negative the context may be, you still need to control yourself and believe that any difficulties will pass sooner or later.
If you look into old books, you can see a decryption, where this card means that a person has enemies. But a person who is inactive, unable to solve his problems, who only knows how to aggravate the situation, is a real enemy to himself.
The Nine of Swords symbolizes the special anxiety of the human soul. He can sleep poorly and be very nervous, have nightmares in his sleep and many depressing thoughts haunt him during the day. This is the result of the life situation in which the questioner is. He committed an offense, for which his conscience gnaws. He is pursued by fear, a phobia. Perhaps a bunch of troubles fell on him, and he curses the whole world, thinking that fate has played a cruel joke with him.
The meaning of the Nine of Swords of the Tarot card is our fears, something that sometimes we ourselves are afraid to admit to ourselves, but something that haunts us and upsets us. The card indicates nightmares and insomnia. Even without specifying what caused the experience, the questioner will understand what it is about. It worries him, and he is unable to fight.
To overcome the depressed state, it is necessary to solve the problem in connection with which it arose. And people fall into apathy and do not believe in success, their strength and a good ending. It seems to them that any action on their part is doomed to failure. In addition, taking something is a serious step, the process of correcting the situation can be delayed. It will be difficult for him to go through it all.
The Nine of Swords talks about the pain hidden in the subconscious, about torment. But man, by nature, cannot be in the shackles of longing and horror for a long time. He wants to destroy the epicenter, the cause of mental disorders. The card of this Arcana tells not about problems as such, but about thoughts, imaginary problems that do not exist in reality.

In a Reversed Position:

The Reversed Nine of Swords also symbolizes negative thoughts and destructive energy. But unlike in upright position, it means there is no real reason for such torment. Indicates that the querent himself invents most of the fears for himself.
The reversed Tarot card of Nine Swords is truly dark. The person seems to be caught in a vicious circle of despair and discouragement, and this deepens and perpetuates the problems. Self-doubt paralyzes the person, and he cannot get out of this situation without outside help.
The reversed Nine of Swords in fortune-telling and spreads carries a less destructive effect and indicates that, most likely, the hardest part is over. The beginning of a new life, new opportunities and the understanding that everything will be fine helps in overcoming the remaining difficulties. Of course, it is too early to talk about complete cloudlessness – the problems require to receive their logical conclusion.
In the reversed position, the Nine of Swords Tarot card says that the querent needs to look at life in a more positive way. Perhaps now is not the easiest period in your life, and there are many reasons for grief, but you see everything in a too gloomy light, thus aggravating your situation.

Nine of Swords. The Tarot of Vampyres [With Phantasmagoria] by Ian Daniels
The Tarot of Vampyres [With Phantasmagoria] by Ian Daniels

The Nine of Swords encourages you to break this vicious circle of negative emotions. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, coming up with more and more new reasons for this! It’s time to open up to life and all that is good in it. Your situation is not hopeless. You can put up with something in it, but you are quite capable of changing something for the better. All you need to do this is a little more positivity and self-confidence.
Reversed Nine of Swords is the same negative card that is often associated with diseases, or rather, with the feelings that they cause in the querent. This is fear, shame. Sometimes the reversed card is a person who cannot be trusted. A situation that can get out of hand at any moment, in which an attitude of apprehension prevails. Slander, deceit and gossip are felt.
A reversed card speaks of experiences, internal troubles, depression on the basis of what is happening. But this does not mean that fears and doubts have a reason to be in this situation, most likely they are groundless. Fears and feelings generally manifest themselves either explicitly, or they hide. The querent does not let them out, but they do not die from this, they continue to live inside. When they are there, their mental health is not very good. And from blues and negative thoughts, mental illnesses, the bodily illnesses can appear.
There is one positive interpretation by Guggenheim. He claims that the reversed Nine of Swords is a good sign, a symbol of a new, white streak in life, the end of nightmares in dreams and in reality, and the beginning of something new and beautiful. Understanding what is happening and taking control into your own hands.

In the Spreads for Different situation

In an Upright Position:
Before worrying or being fearful about a particular situation, make sure that your feelings are based on objective reasons. Don’t let anxiety and negative emotions to cloud your mind.
In a Reversed Position:
Do not worry in vain, your fears and suffering are groundless. Try to look at the situation objectively, removing unnecessary emotions. It’s not as bad as you think.

In the Spreads for Relationship

In an Upright Position:
The classic meaning of the Nine Swords in love is suffering. The reasons can be very different: quarrel, betrayal, jealousy, separation, resentment towards a partner, etc. But the result is always the same – sadness, tears, depression. If you do not have a permanent partner, the card may indicate that you are experiencing a sense of hopelessness because of this and it is difficult for you to endure loneliness.
It can be deep regret about entering into a relationship with another person. Remorse and self-blame for any actions in relation to a partner. Sometimes it is a shame that the partner found out (or almost found out) such things that can make him lose respect for the querent. The Arcana also symbolizes extremes in feelings, when a person instantly passes from love to hate and vice versa. Sometimes we can talk about a thirst for revenge, when a person not only does not want to forgive, but also hatches plans on how to take revenge and deliver maximum pain to another person. When interpreting the upright Nine of Swords, it should be remembered that the card often indicates a storm in the heart or thoughts of a person than real-life problems.

In a Reversed Position:
Indicates fictitious reasons for suffering. Most often it is jealousy that has no objective reasons. Suspicion, distrust, excessive fear of losing a partner, etc.
Appearing in fortune telling or in a reversed position, the Nine of Swords says that there are still problems and difficulties in the relationship, the querent’s state is far from ideal, and the person is still under the influence of stress, but soon everything will work out. The correct conclusions will definitely be made from the current situation .

In the Spreads for Dates

In an Upright Position:
Lack of self-confidence is the only thing holding you back.
In a Reversed Position:
Perhaps you are very anxious – even insomnia. Unfortunately, he (or she) is not worth it.

In the Spreads for Family

In an Upright Position:
Try to support your family during this difficult time. Do something positive.
In a Reversed Position:
Family problems look like a crushing blow, you feel overwhelmed. But there is a person to whom you can tell about everything and trust his advice.

In the Spreads for Friendship

In an Upright Position:
Disagreements with a friend will dissipate like smoke, and in the future they will further strengthen your friendship.

Nine of Swords. Celtic Tarot
Celtic Tarot

In a Reversed Position:
A lot of controversy, passing on to the individual. They upset everyone and make things worse. Time to find a compromise or leave.

In the Spreads for Money

In an Upright Position:
Compensation for financial losses will come quickly.
On the issue of finance – fear of loss or lack of money, strong anxiety about this.
In a Reversed Position:
Objectively, everything is in order with finances, but the querent is still too worried about possible losses.

In the Spreads for Education

In an Upright Position:
You are very worried about your exam results. It’s not worth it. In the end, everything will be fine.
In a Reversed Position:
Your constant anxiety makes life difficult not only for you, but also for your parents.

In the Spreads for Career

In an Upright Position:
In the field of career, it usually symbolizes negativity at work. It can be failures in work affairs, fear of new projects, fear of bosses, self-doubt – everything that emotionally shakes a person.
The upright Nine of Swords is a dull, pessimistic mood due to the oppressive work, boss, or team atmosphere. This can be a fear of not coping with the task received, overwork due to increased workload, a feeling of increased risk, self-accusation as a result of any serious miscalculation in business or work. Also, the card can talk about collapse, ruin, loss of a large amount of money, a serious threat from competitors.

In a Reversed Position:
In work, a reversed Arcana also means a baseless alarm. When there are no real grounds, but a person himself comes up with negative scenarios for the development of events and gets upset.
The reversed Nine of Swords is a disagreement in the team, causing irritation and anger of colleagues or partners, ill-wishers, destructively affecting the fortuneteller’s affairs. However, Arcana reports that the situation is fixable, and it is advisable not to delay solving the problem. Also, the card symbolizes the expectation of change, the emergence of new hopes.

In the Spreads for Health

In an Upright Position:
The most common meaning of the Nine of Swords in the field of health is nervous disorders. This may include: insomnia, panic attacks, high or low blood pressure, problems with the cardiovascular, nervous system, etc.
In a Reversed Position:
The Nine of Swords, Reversed for health, symbolizes hypochondria. There may not be a real illness, but a person winds himself up and worries.

Answer to Yes / No Tarot Spreads

In an Upright Position:
In a Reversed Position:

Self-Development Lesson

If you are sad, you must identify the source of your sadness, anger, or shame because it is holding you back. This is a time for self-assessment.

Type of person in an upright position:

The card means a person who loves to whine and complain, a quiet vampire who feeds on other people’s emotions and revels in his own suffering. Even if they are not there, this person will come up with them, as he certainly needs consolation from the outside.

Type of person in a reversed position:

It means a person whose thoughts are deeply occupied by the topic of death. He tends to romanticize death, in it he sees deliverance from earthly suffering. Likes to be “horrified” for nothing. For this purpose he often resorts to watching films of the corresponding genre.

Nine of Swords. Tarot of White and Black Magic by Gina M. Pace
Tarot of White and Black Magic by Gina M. Pace

Arcana’s warning

Before succumbing to panic and fears, take an objective look at the situation. Perhaps things are not as bad as they seem.

Final Advice of Arcana

Even if the situation or circumstances are really difficult, try to find its advantages and gain experience.

In an Upright Position:
You can’t run away from yourself. All that can help you is sincere repentance for what you have done.
In a Reversed Position:
Confess your guilt completely. Accept that retribution for what you have done is inevitable.


In most interpretations, the Nine of Swords of the Tarot is considered the worst card in the deck. It predicts death, failure, extreme despair. Even surrounded by the best cards, it can mean illness, loss of money or property, misfortune. This means having a ruthless enemy or just bad luck. Projects influenced by the nine swords Tarot card will inevitably end in failure. You can only hope for the inner strength that will allow you to withstand the storm. Note, if you have done (or are planning to do) anything inappropriate, this card warns that you will be caught and punished. A ruthless enemy is not necessarily a villain if the querent himself is committing an offense.

Flower in Tarot

Discover other Minor Arcana:

2 thoughts on “Nine of Swords Tarot Card Meanings”

  1. Rickey Shadfar

    Good site you’ve got here.. It’s hard to find high quality writing like yours nowadays. I seriously appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

  2. Card of the day: fell asleep at work. I went to sleep in the next room at lunchtime, the phone was on silent, and when my boss woke me up, I woke up exactly as on the map – “where am I?” Well, in addition, I had a terrible lack of sleep from the night, at first I thought that the map showed it, but then it was lost in this way 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top