Nine of Swords
A woman awakens from a nightmare, holding her head. Her hair and gown are white, the color of purity. There are nine swords on her wall. Her bedspread is decorated with roses and astrological symbols. The astrological symbols indicate a desire to know what is going on in the universe and what its plan is for you. The roses are symbolic of magic.
There’s a carving of the end of a duel on her bed. One fighter has bested the other, and it’s unclear whether the victor is going to finish the deed. It’s also unclear whether the wall is black with nine swords fixed to it, or if it’s a black sky above her and nine swords are just floating down oppressively from the heavens she’s trying to figure out using astrology.
The thing about nightmares is that they feel real, and they can be terrifying, but they’re not real. They can, however, have a profound affect on the dreamer and stick with them because the nightmare comes from the inside out, and the nightmare reflects what the dreamer fears. After all, a dream becomes a nightmare only because it makes the dreamer afraid.
A bad dream brings up things we would rather not think about. Things that make us sad, things that cause shame and guilt, things that cause doubt and despair. Even though those feelings start and originate in the mind, we may think that the universe is trying to tell us something.
The Nine of Swords is about worry, doubt, despair, guilt, fear, and helplessness, and being mired in these feelings despite all of our efforts to know what’s ahead, and what’s going on. This can cause us to wake up terrified from our sleep, unable to relax, and feeling oppressed. The swords appear to be coming down on her, as if the universe is trying to push her down. She doesn’t get out of bed and she doesn’t leave. For the moment, she is stuck in her despair.
The Nine of Swords is a card that describes the moment of terror and helplessness when the picture is still fresh in the mind, seeming as real as if it actually happened. It’s not the moment before waking up, and it’s not the moment after, when realizes it’s just a dream and the mental pictures start to rapidly fade away. It’s the gasping, awful moment that whatever is in your mind is somehow real, and it is awful.
When the Nine of Swords is Reversed:
When the Nine of Swords is reversed, the querent is not coming out of the dream, but winding themselves up more and more and feeling more worry and despair. They may not be able to sleep, literally, and are falling into a deeper hole with every passing night.
However, the Nine of Swords reversed can also mean that the querent has realized that their worries and fears are all in their head, and that they don’t have to sit in bed and do nothing about their problems anymore.
In a three-card reading, this card means…
Past: In the past, the querent was stuck in their head, paralyzed by fear and despair, which has brought them to the present moment.
Present: In the present, the querent really thinks that their fears and anguish come from real things, even though they’re all in their head.
Future: In the future, the querent is going to get so worked up about their own unpleasant thoughts that they’ll lose sleep and fall into anxiety.