Nine of Swords Explained - Upright & Reversed Meanings (2024)

Nine of Swords Explained - Upright & Reversed Meanings (1)

The card of anxiety, nightmare, & worry.

Last Updated: April 16, 2024.

The Nine of Swords is the ninth card in the Suit of Swords (also known as the suit of blades) and one of the fifty-six suit cards from the minor arcana. In divinatory tarot, the Suit of Swords is associated with thought, intellect, mental strength, and integrity. They can also represent conflict, hardship, and misfortune.

Divination practices such as cartomancy can help us make decisions, offer guidance, and help us tune into our intuition when we are at a crossroads in our lives. Understanding the meanings of each tarot card can help you sharpen your interpretative skills so you can get the most out of your readings.

The Nine of Swords is a quite mysterious card in the Rider-Waite deck. It represents a time of worry and sadness. The Nine of Swords tarot card is considered to be an announcement of a difficult period in which the individual will face feelings of fear and deep sadness.

In this article, we will discuss the meanings of the Nine of Swords in various tarot reading contexts as well as the different symbols and nuances that can be found within this court card

Table of Contents

Pictorial Symbolism in the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck

The artworks from the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck contain deeper esoteric meanings that tarotists love to decipher.

The card shows a person sitting upright in their bed. The person’s posture appears very depressing as if they just woke up from a nightmare. The person covering their face with their hands shows hopelessness to the viewer. Perhaps, the person has suffered a series of pains and injustices in the past, or is burdened by doubt, anxiety, fears, and even depression.

Nine of Swords Explained - Upright & Reversed Meanings (2)

There is nobody by their side to support them in difficult times and they are left alone with their worries. The card has a black background which symbolizes bad times.

A long white night dress may mean that they are an innocent victim of a cruel fate. Perhaps, they feel guilt that wakes them from their sleep and reminds them of the burden that rests on their shoulders. In the darkness, the Nine of Swords look big and terrifying on the wall. Swords fly parallel above the bed from left to right. This symbolizes the severity of the fears the person has taken upon themselves. The person will have to get out of that bed to escape the darkness of the night. This scene depicts inner fears, doubts, regrets and anxiety which prevent a person from having a sleep. This image on the card is associated with moments of great pain and regret that are present in an individual’s life.

The bed itself is a symbolic image. Most births and even deaths take place on the bed. We spend half our lives sleeping. On the bed frame, two people are fighting which symbolizes the inner fight of this person. The person’s bed is decorated with roses and astrological symbols. Roses are a symbol of beauty and love and symbolize harmony.

As our revelations may be terrible and wake us up from sleep, the roses may comfort us. The zodiac symbols between roses can be connected with the universe and divine plan – everything happens for a reason.

The Nine of Swords key correspondences

Upright keywords

guilt, obsessive thoughts, concern, sadness, consequences of own actions, mistakes, fears, worries, devastation, shame, failure

Reversed keywords

Admitting mistakes, facing fears, betraying partner, mystery, balance, bravery

Yes or No



9 (IX)



Ruling Planet


Astrological Sign


What does the upright Nine of Swords mean in the Tarot?

Nine of Swords is the card of depression. This card is mostly associated with fears and stress. There may be a lot of anxiety and worries in a person’s life which keep them awake during the night. The person may feel embarrassed for having trusted certain individuals. A lot of questions torment them inside.

They are analyzing all the possibilities in their head and already know every possible outcome of a situation before it even happens. The Nine of Swords could talk about the repetition of some events: something that happened in the past is being re-lived again.

Nine of Swords Explained - Upright & Reversed Meanings (3)

When pulled in the upright position, the Nine of Swords is associated with guilt, obsessive thoughts, concern, sadness, mistakes, fears, worries, shame, and failure.

What does the upright Nine of Swords mean in a love reading

The Nine of Swords indicates that past relationships could be a source of worry or sadness for a person who is single currently. According to the Nine of Swords, this person has not processed their feelings from past relationships.

Before they are ready to give their heart to someone new, they must heal the pain of their past love affairs. Additionally, the card can also talk about other issues that are bothering the person. Due to these issues, the person is not ready to start something new or look for a partner. If you have met someone new, the card asks you to not get carried away. Trust takes time to develop.

The Nine of Swords Tarot card in the area of love indicates dealing with doubts, lack of understanding and lack of support. The Nine of Swords means a difficult time or period of suffering in terms of love and relationships.

The most important thing that this card asks you is to not ignore your feelings. If you feel that something in your relationship is unhealthy, you are most likely right. However, do not rush to conclusions and accusations.

Stick to the truth because it is the only way to reduce your anxiety. Many nightmares take place in your head, but they influence your inner peace. There may be jealousy and fear of loss present in this relationship. There might be violence on the emotional. This can be reflected in a non-obvious way, such as a lack of love or ignorance, or in an obvious way such as insults or verbal abuse.

It is sometimes very difficult to break up these relationships, and even after a breakup it usually takes a while before healing can take place.

What does the upright Nine of Swords mean in a career reading?

The Nine of Swords indicates a poor work atmosphere. The colleagues may be treating the person in the wrong way. Furthermore, the Nine of Swords shows that the person is very concerned about their professional future.

The Nine of Swords indicates fears regarding work. The main concern here is not being able to do the work properly. There may be feelings of regret for choosing the current workplace too. The card is associated with the desire for change. When it comes to a job, excessive worrying does not lead to a solution.

The person should focus on what they can control and try to let go of the anxiety. If they are looking for a job, they should think positively and not hesitate to ask for help. The person may be very confused and has the feeling that they do not know which way to go. Patience is asked.

The Nine of Swords as feelings/emotions

If you’re asking the tarot how someone feels about you, pulling the Nine of Swords indicates that the person may be kept up during the night analyzing their feelings. Maybe they are not supposed to have feelings for someone and they are worried about that situation, or they feel ashamed.

Additionally, they may feel guilty about their feelings. There is more about this person that should be discovered. Some issues need to be addressed. The person may be very sad and depressed. If you have broken up the relationship and now you are asking how the ex-partner feels, you can be sure that this person is very sad.

The person may be scared about things that are out of their control and they may feel hopeless. Reassurance is key here – the 9 of Swords is towards the end of a cycle, but it’s not quite the end yet, so encouragement to go forward in imperative.

Things have a way of working out, and we need to trust the process.

The Nine of Swords as a person

As a personality archetype, the Nine of Swords represents someone whois usually a loner that keeps things to themselves. They may have anxiety or are big on overthinking issues. Some people may perceive them as unstable.

However, they are independent and do not need people around them. They are intellectual, emotional and passionate. They are attracted to intelligent people. This card, however, does not represent a person as a permanent whole but talks rather about the current state of mind.

The Nine of Swords as advice

If you are asking the tarot for advice regarding a specific situation in your life, drawing the Nine of Swords means that you should not carry every burden alone, maybe there is someone who can and wants to talk to you about your situation. If the situation is about fears in general, you should try to do self-analysis.

For now, focus on the things you can control and most importantly, learn to ask for help. Most fears are only highly threatening in our imagination. Usually, they have less impact on our everyday life. The advice of the card is to create a balance and not to focus on worries all the time.

What is the zodiac or astrological sign associated with the Nine of Swords?

The Nine of Swords is represented by Mars in Gemini. Mars is known as a warrior. It talks about aggressive thoughts and actions without thinking. Some call this card the card of cruelty due to the Mars in Gemini. The timing of the Nine of Swords is June 1st to June 10th.

Is the Nine of Swords a yes or no card?

The Nine of Swords is typically a “No” card.Below are some of my interpretations, as an experienced tarot practitioner, based on different types of questions:

  • Will I get the job? It’s not likely, no. Pull more cards to support why not at this time.
  • Is this new person in my life good for me? Yes. They may like you more than you think, so talk openly and honestly with them for further insight.
  • Will I achieve my current goals? Yes. It may be easier in the future to achieve them if you take action towards what you wish for.
  • Should I start my own business? No. Too many worries and fears may make it difficult.

What does the reversed Nine of Swords mean in the Tarot?

The reversed Nine of Swords card symbolizes the ending of worries and a hopeless period in a person’s life. With their will and effort, they overcame the anxiety that was suffocating them and now, much stronger than before, they can continue on the path on which they have suddenly stopped.

The reversed card indicates that the person’s condition will change for the better.

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When pulled in the reversed position, the Nine of Swords is linked with admitting mistakes, facing fears, betraying partners, mystery, balance, and bravery.

What does the reversed Nine of Swords mean in a love reading?

Nine of Swords in reversed position advises singles to rebuild their social life. The card asks them to be courageous when looking for a partner and to let go of the fear of rejection. We should not be focused on our fears and worries about failure. It is important to focus on our relaxation first, and other situations can wait whilst you prioritise your well-being.

In the reverse position, the card announces anger and the breaking up of the partnership. For those who are in a relationship, there may be a secret between you and the partner, and themes of regret or shame.

Another aspect of the Nine of Swords is that you may be too focused on your partnership while neglecting other areas of your life. An imbalance is always bad.

What does the inverted Nine of Swords mean in a career reading?

A reversed Nine of Swords tarot card is an indication of obstacles, financial problems and the inability to make progress. The reversed Nine of Swords stands for looking for a balance from the stressful everyday life. If you always work overtime and push your limits, there is a risk of burnout.

Another meaning of the reversed Nine of Swords is that there is a lot of pressure at work. Maybe you were finally able to complete a difficult project. Additionally, the reversed Nine of Swords signifies letting go of fears that may be related to the career or your job position.


In conclusion, the Nine of Swords tarot card is a powerful symbol of guilt, obsessive thoughts, concern, sadness, mistakes, fears, worries, shame, and failure. When this card appears in your reading, it is often a sign that you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and emotionally burdened. It is important to acknowledge your feelings and find ways to work through them in order to reach a place of emotional balance once again.

Despite its association with mysticism and occultism, the tarot has grown to become much more than a simple “fortune-telling” tool. For many tarot practitioners, it is a complex system made of symbolic imagery and psychological considerations (Jungian archetypes for example) that can be used for self-exploration, meditation, and personal transformation.

The 56 lesser arcana cards relate to the day-to-day events of our lives, the more mundane aspects of our existence. Even though that part of the tarot is about the “smaller picture”, it symbolizes theconstant choices we make that shape our lives, our characters, and ultimately our destinies.

Have you ever had a reading where the 9 Of Swords appeared? What was the outcome? What does that card mean to you personally? How do you interpret this card in your own tarot practice?

Share your thoughts and experiences with me in the comments below.

Additionally, If you want to know more about the different tarot cards, feel free to check out my completelist of all 78 tarot cards and their meanings.

Nine of Swords Explained - Upright & Reversed Meanings (5)

Written by Lizzie Burgess

I have been reading Tarot for more than 15 years. I have always enjoyed using my intuition to provide clarity and insights to others. Tarot is one of my favorite forms of divination, and I love sharing that passion with like-minded folks.

Learn more about the Suit of Swords

This page is part of our comprehensive . If you enjoyed the read, then you’ll love the following articles.

Ace of Swords

Two of Swords

Three of Swords

Four of Swords

Five of Swords

Six of Swords

Seven of Swords

Eight of Swords

10 of Swords

Page of Swords

Knight of Swords

Queen of Swords

King of Swords

Nine of Swords Explained - Upright & Reversed Meanings (2024)
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