9 of Swords

The 9 of swords relates to air at earth.  The air are vital energy that regulate the body.  They are the breath of life and the ability to love and be loved.

Earth at 9 is the glorious end of one cycle where the absolute stands as the new beginning on the other side.  Very few people take death to be the glorious end of one cycle but this is what happens when the air passes from the body.  First the body crumbles to dust, then physical matter gives way to the absolute, allowing rebirth to take place.  Thus physical death is one aspect of the symbolism of the ace of swords.  Air (swords) is also symbolic of the intellect and our ability to know who we are.  At earth the vital air is trapped and immovable, on the one hand this may be useful if we are gardeners wanting to know how to put the vital air of life in to the soil to help our plants to grow, but it is not so positive for a human being to be trapped in the soil.  We cannot breathe under the air – there is no air.   Imagine yourself potholing or caving travelling on a journey deeper and deeper into the earth.  Now imagine this is the physical body, the deepest recesses of it lacking in the air of intellect.  We would come across dark stagnant places where thoughts and memories are buried deep within our psyche, which then reflect in the physical body.  There is no clear thought or ability to discriminate in this dark place as one’s mind is full of pain, grief and horror, thus the 9 of swords is the physical earthly manifestation of negative karma.


It’s interesting to note that various complementary therapies, such as Rolfing and Bodytherapy, come from the premise that emotional trauma stay within the body / cellular memory and can eventually manifest as disease if not dealt with.  Deep manipulation of the muscles releases the pain and healing takes place.  One Bodytherapist I spoke to said that with many clients, once the root cause is reached the effect is highly cathartic, with the patient often bursting into tears and reconnecting and releasing old emotions that they have been so bound by.  The patients often noted improved breathing (air) and ability to enjoy life.  A psychotherapist also works on the same level using communication to unearth and excavate things that are buried so deep and causing so much pain that often we cannot face them.


The 9 of swords is multi-faceted and although it illustrates physical death, this is rarely the case during a reading.  More often it indicates the client is mentally suffering but without the jovial façade we can still manage to maintain at the 8 of swords.   This card is the anguish which makes one believe one is going mad or will crack up or has reached the end of ones tether – it’s the I can’t do this or I can’t cope any more card.

Images suddenly rush up from the psyche in the form of nightmares or flashbacks or the body gives way to panic attacks r the extremes of mental illness and stress.  There are many ways of dealing with this type of deep ongoing mental stress and each individual is unique.  Some people contemplate suicide as the only escape, while others drown the pain and thoughts in alcohol or drugs, some people become violent and lash out or act up at work or in relationships.  However none of these things deal with the cause of the problem.

The 9 of swords is an active card due to its association to the magician (1) Hermit (9) and Strength (11), so although it describes a type of depression, it is a dynamic force.  People with the 9 of swords want to do something about the drak energy within them and wont just sit out like the 4 of swords.  At this point the pain has become unbearable and action must be taken to deal with it which can be abything from an eating disorder to self harm to attempting suicide, infect anything to bring about death to the mental pain.  Drawing this card during a reading is a sign to be careful in regard to how you interpret and treat the querant with extra care as they may be feeling very vulnerable.


If taken at the start of a reading its best to gloss over its meaning a little until you have gauged their state of mind and whether it refers to the client or someone else in their life.  I can then come back to the card later in the reading.

These are extremely sensitive issues and it is the card readers responsibility to take care of the clients feelings.  I have often seen that someone who comes to me for a reading and they are concerned about a loved one who is drinking to excess or taking drugs.  However I have also seen many clients who have either already attempted suicide or had extreme feelings that this would be the only way of stopping the deep metal pain.


Case studies:


An elderly woman came to me for a reading with the 9 of swords in the upper row (indicating the inner world) with the 5 of batons crossed by the king of cups below it.  Other cards showed her to be a reasonably happy person.  When I suggested the death of a man she loved kept playing on her mind, she looked at me with astonishment.  ‘but that was eight years ago’ she said.  As the 9 of swords relates to the mind and great fears that the mind will give way, I went on to suggest that he had died in his sleep next to her.  She agreed that this had been the case and that on waking she had been terrified and not able to put the image out of her mind.  So much so that she was afraid to go to sleep at night.  The image had got stuck in her hearth and created this negative energy field that the 9 of swords represents.


‘I can’t tell anyone’ she said, ‘I sleep so badly, if at all’ we took cards to see how she might best deal with the problem and they suggested simple things like moving to a different bedroom and redecorating the house, or sleep with the light on.  She said she had tried all these things and none of them had made any difference.  It wasn’t until the 7 of swords reversed and the 4 of cups came up that in 8 years she had not shed one tear for him.  The shock of grief had affected her so deeply that her own vital energies had been blocked and now emotion was beyond her.  Gently I explained this to her and quite unexpectedly she burst into tears.  The reading had affected a healing.  ‘I never thought I would cry again – I thought my mind would give way first’.  She admitted that there would be many more tears as she finally allowed herself to feel and process the grief but for her it was a new beginning.  This was backed up some months later when her daughter telephoned me to say that her mother was much brighter than she had been for years and that when she had returned home from the reading she had spoken at length and there’d been a lot of tears.  Neither of things shed ever shared with anyone before and not, gradually her sleep pattern was improving.  The woman in this case said that she feared her ‘mind would give way’ a perfect expression of the 9.


Another client had a very grey aura when he came to see me – depressed ad I go the impression he was surrounded by death.  He wanted to embark on a spiritual path and learn tarot ye t the cards suggested this would not be possible until he dealt with deep buried issues.  He insisted that everything was fine and he didn’t know anyone who had died.  We then went on to his work and he mentioned that he had just changed jobs and used to work in an abattoir.  I pointed out that the many detahs from his past were the many animals he killed every day.  I never saw it like that he said – I didn’t realise how it might have been affecting me.



Death, extreme inner anguish, feelings of suicide, drug or other addictions, violence, nighmares, flashbacks, symptoms of ptsd




Same as the upright card, oftenm more acute

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