Card of Nightmares: Nine of Swords

“It’s all in your head.”
“I know. That’s exactly the problem.”

When clients see the Nine of Swords turn up in a reading, it is often a terrifying sight. In many ways, the thoughts and emotions the card evokes through its imagery are comparable to the messages this card is telling us. The Nine of Swords symbolizes psychological torment and spiraling thoughts. This card is the card of negative or distorted thought patterns. All of those ways that our mind lies to us and tells us things are wrong when all we need is a new perspective.

The Nine of Swords exhorts us to wake up, check the facts, and in doing so, change our ability to act and change our circumstances. This may require some patience. Leaving the state of emotion mind can take considerable effort.  Aleister Crowley saw escape from this card as resignation or martyrdom, but I prefer Angeles Arrien’s association of this card with The Hermit— “the major archetype of completion and introspection and self-reflection… a source of energy that can be drawn for guidance and support as you work through self-criticism.” Another of Arrien’s interpretations that really resonates with me is, “The spirit weeps, wondering why you are being so hard on yourself.” 

These negative thoughts can often be words spoken to us earlier in life that we internalized. Now it is our voice repeating those same negative ideas. Strength is required to form a new habit of compassion and positive visualization, but seeing these negative thoughts as something outside of us that act against our best interests is the first step.