The Nine of Swords. What a card. When you take your first glance at it, you must admit, it stops you in your tracks. It can steal your breath away and cause you to take pause. And I don’t mean that in the loveliest way either. Yes it’s entrancing, it draws you in, but the landscape is a distorted hellish energetic place that you can fall into and that most people would agree as it being something they wish to never experience. Let’s get into it though, because I never look at a card and say, yep, that’s all there is. Each card of the tarot holds both the terror and the beauty, and this gruesome thought-provoking card isn’t separate from that statement. Although it is one of the most unpleasant cards in the tarot, there’s the highlight of a silver lining and the power of the mind which can, like anything, be overcome and transformed. So let’s float like a butterfly, after we’ve been stung by the bee!
Well Let Me Tell You About It
The Nine of Swords evokes anxiety and despair when you set your eyes upon it. When receiving it in a reading or pulling your daily tarot cards it’s easy to let out a groan of disappointment. We can already fathom how badly this card and its energy is about to mess with us if it hasn’t begun to already. But I want you to join me right now, let us join forces as we delve into the depths of the Nine of Swords and discover how to navigate its energy. Stay tuned because I will share my personal experiences and lessons learned from encountering this card, including the importance of resilience, and finding meaning in challenging situations.
The Epitome of a Bad Dream
If you look at the images throughout the different tarot decks, you’ll see that the Nine of Swords card evokes a more sinister and nightmarish outlook where it seems that there is no end in sight to the terror that exists in the mind. And there is no doubt about it, this card is all about mental anguish. You have here the astrological influence of the planet Mars with the astrological sign of Gemini ruling the card. So you have the power of Mercury here as it influences the thinking of the Gemini. As amazing as Mercury is, with his fluidity in his dealings, with his power over the mind, words, and communication, he can quite easily go from trickster energy, the lighthearted playing fun, and refreshing games in the world kind of vibe to turning inward with aggression to trick oneself, causing the mind to become deluded. What once was a place of clarity can become disrupted and lead into distortions in a matter of minutes.
Then you have Mars thrown in the mix, the God full of drive, and courage and passion and also, conflict, disturbance, and war. Mixed together you can very easily find yourself with a cocktail that was brewed in similar fashion to the pop rocks and soda combo made from the scare tactics of Urban Legends to dispel fresh eyed younglings from causing any trouble. This card is the epitome of a bad dream, and it won’t matter how life has been up until that point. Because when you sink into the energy of the Nine of Swords, you better hope that you left yourself a rope on the other end to pull yourself out. Without it you will stumble around in the dark until inevitably the sun rises again. Which can be many, many, many hours from when the nightmare first hit you, and who knows, you could even wake up to realize that many days have passed, and your nightmares have saturated your waking life. *shivers* If you allow this card and its energy to keep you up at night with unpleasant stories and rememberings of the past and worries about future events, it will do its job thoroughly.
Let us break down some of the imagery found in a couple different Nine of Swords tarot cards I want to showcase. I’ll be taking examples from the Tarot of the Sidhe, Santa Muerte Tarot, and Light Seer’s Tarot.
So first up is the Tarot of the Sidhe where they call the Nine of Swords the Dreamer Nine and it has the keyword of Nightmare. In this card you see a huge Moon tinged in dark red to maroon linings of blood, a claw filled hand that looks like it was created from the very breath of the woman who is lying on her back, eyes and third eye bearing the red vein like look you get when you are without sleep and a figure placed in what looks like different steps of a particular occurrence that has just occurred. With the blood moon it makes me feel that there is an exploration here of hidden layers to our psyche at play and that it is touching upon our darker side that evoke emotions like anger and grief, shame, and guilt. This card shows me how easily we can create our own prisons with the very things we speak to ourselves to the point that it starts to cause us physical overwhelm and pain. It becomes apparent without the support from ourselves or even others for that matter, that we start to grotesquely obscure our intelligence and ability to see clearly from an intuitive knowing perspective.
We then have the Light Seer’s depiction with the flurry of crows above a woman on the ground, shoulders dropped forward as she kneels with her head in her hands. This reminds me of a scene in the movie Divergent, when Tris is stuck in the mud and being attacked by the birds above her. This representation tells me that the once wisdom holding insightful crow has become a squawking mess of the mind, as there are too many birds cawing, and it skews and clouds what you should be paying attention to. Their willingness to share what they know have become screams that wills you to downright ignore and turn your face away from what they might be able to offer you. It wasn’t until Tris told herself that what she was experiencing wasn’t real that she was able to sink deeper into herself and figure out a way out.
Then you have the vice grip around the head found in the Santa Muerte Tarot. This skeletal figure is holding a book and the color yellow is significant throughout the card. When I see yellow I often think of the solar plexus chakra system which is our seat of power. I see here that the sheer will to gain knowledge and insight is thwarted by the torturous fixture attached to the head. And that’s the thing too, as much as we can create these bad places for ourselves in our mind, influences from the outside can hold just as much power over us. No matter what a person is trying to do to soothe themselves, to realize what they need to and be able to smell the roses around them, the invisible hand of torture will continue to turn the mechanisms of the sharp circular instrument into a crushing tightness that will penetrate the softness of our inner organs.
So whether you find yourselves eyeballs deep in pain as depicted in the Wild Unknown Tarot card or you find that your mind is like a wild horse, untamed, unstoppable and downright dangerously displaying its strength as struggles against being imprisoned in the Slow Tarot card, know that if you are engaging with yourself and the world around you through the efforts of this card you have unwittingly and maybe unknowingly found yourself on this cruel journey.
When I sat down to write about the Nine of Swords card, the melody, and lyrics from this song I love started playing immediately. It’s Cruel World by the artist Active Child. Here are some of the lyrics:
Keep your head up, hold your head up
Even though it’s a cruel world
Count your blessings, you won’t need them
When you’re gone, it’s a cruel world (cruel world)
You can’t see it, you can’t see it
Even though it’s a cruel world.
Here’s the song: Active Child – Cruel World
And what these lyrics brought forward to me was the imagery, the imagery of the head down, of hands in the head, total contemplation of feeling like things will never get better. The being asked to basically keep your head up, to keep your cool, to keep yourself from drowning in the depths of the mind. It’s very easy to get lost when you are not in a place where things make sense. It’s very easy to spiral with the energy of the Nine of Swords surrounding you. To cry out and pray and ask the powers outside of you, however you name them, whether God or the Universe, Source or Spirit to assist you during these turbulent times only to feel like your pleas are falling on deaf ears. One of the silver linings that I found from the Nine of Swords is a personal experience that I had with the card and that basically it taught me that there was going to be a greater sacrifice that I would end up finding out in the long run after the pain and the despair that once held me.
Initiation into the Mysteries and Myself
I began a journey at the beginning of last year into a mystery school and one of the first cards that I drew from the Thoth Tarot deck was the Nine of Swords with the keyword of Cruelty. Looking at the card you can see it’s a bunch of swords pointing downward with little drops of blood coming off the tip of it.
Now what was synchronistic about the blood drops is at the beginning of last year in a Mars like energy of irritation I had made my nose bleed to the point that it bled profusely for 21 days. More days than not my nose poured blood out at all times of the day, sometimes for minutes and a few times for up to an hour. As the days went on, and even after going to the emergency room with the doctors telling me it had to run its course, I found myself in my head a thousand percent of the time. I quite literally thought I was going to die. I documented my experience by taking pictures and was afraid I wouldn’t be able to participate at the mystery school! The anxiety and overwhelm I experienced in my mind felt like this nightmare that would never end and I cried out thinking why was this happening to me and why was this cruel fate washing over me?!
But soon I realized that this was an initiation for me. This bloodletting that happened to me I ascribed to the Egyptians who pulled the brain out of the bodies before they embalmed them. They pulled it out right out of the nose! This cruelty that my body unknowingly put my mind through actually cracked me open enough that light seeped in. The silver lining, the light that came through this darkness shared with me the most obvious realization that in those moments of this happening I didn’t understand. It showed me that I was resilient, and that I could overcome the thoughts of death and thoughts of my life being taken from me. These thoughts had run rampant through Bloody January (BJ for short.. *wink*) and I was sinking deeper and deeper in a pit of despair of my own making. Man when you think you’re going to die, holy shit, it changes the dynamics of your mind. You start believing in things that you don’t believe in. But as the month went on, and after my official initiation at the end of that month into the mystery school, I came to actualization and realized truths that weren’t with me prior to this death-like, near-death-like experience.
I found that in those weeks life changed from what it had meant to me previously to me tapping into what I actually wanted to be focused on and the transformation I wanted to have that year. Prior to attending our first in person retreat and at the ending of 2022 I thought, oh, how fun this is going to be, lighthearted, easy peasy, but this break in my psyche, in those weeks, the overwhelming thought processes that I endured, and the sleeplessness and almost sleepless existence allowed me to believe in more meaning. It gave my life a newfound meaning. It showed me how I treated myself up until that point and how skewed my thoughts were about the “cruel world” surrounding me. How damaging existence could be when you confined yourself to just you and yourself and your own thoughts.
I bled that first Friday night of the mystery school immersion. It started after we were driving back from ritual and having fun in the car with a group of girls. I ran inside and hid in the bathroom afraid to let anyone know I was bleeding from my nose lest I gross them out. I plugged my nostrils up with tissue paper and finally came out into the house where everyone was. You know what the first person who saw me said to me? Well after some time of conversation between us and me sharing why I had my nose plugged he said, “oh, I thought that was like a beauty routine you had going on” and he said, “ a nosebleed, those are common, you’re good” *Sigh* And with that I was able to relax into the space, into myself and know that I was welcome, as everyone is always welcome in the world outside of themselves.
Something so hollow and seemingly without substance became rich and alive and felt like the blood pumping through my veins and I was able to take this nightmare and reshape my daydream.
The Silver Lining
There’s always a chance for the Nine of Swords energy to reverse itself and be dispersed. We can move away from the self-inflicted suffering that has been holding us back. When we realize that we do not have to go through life or our problems and disturbances alone we realize that this card is offering us a visible cry for help and encourages us to seek help and comfort in those around us instead of trying to carry our burdens alone. The energy of this card asks us then to let others in, to embrace our vulnerability and allow ourselves to accept love and support from others so that we can heal with the different perspectives and words of wisdom they can offer us. We can discuss our fears, the things that keep us up in the nighttime or distracts us from our work, relationships and purpose in the daytime and release the unhealthy patterns of interactions that have become hurtful to us. Our minds can very easily become our own worst enemies and it may seem like I’ve created this mess and I’ve got to get myself out of this mess alone but that is the furthest thing from the truth. And a mind hell bent on remaining right even if it isn’t true will pull us further into this sort of psychosis which we cannot free ourselves from.
Just like more of the lyrics from the song Cruel World:
I dedicate my life to something richer
And all the things that come, ’cause that’s no price at all
And I know you’ll be there
And I want you to know I care because..
We’re thrown into this life, no raft, no savior
Masked in self-contempt and wrapped in cotton cloth
And it’s just like a prayer
The way you showed me you care to be there and because..
It signals us to seek out those who would be wise council folks to put on our team of positive influences. By honoring your feelings, and sharing them with others, we can create stronger connections that foster mutual understanding and peace and provide us with places of refuge when we are struggling and feel like drowning in our sorrows. By reflecting on our own internal relationships with ourselves and speaking about them to those closest to us we take the necessary steps towards becoming whole and healthy within ourselves which will manifest itself externally. We are not alone, and we can receive love from others around us by letting them know what is happening within us in the first place. You are not a burden, and you also don’t deserve to hold all of your burdens all to your lonesome self. Love yourself and let yourself be loved and know that this too, whatever it is, shall pass.
P.S. With Love
Everything that I talk about and speak about is for you to take with you and consider. If it offers you a different outlook on life, or further solidifies a belief that differs from my own, I will always consider that a win. I like to think about outcomes, probabilities, possibilities, and when I share I am offering you a way to see the world from my own lens. What you take or don’t take from my shares are your gifts to be had. Consider life, remember to choose, and decide to dream.
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Ineisha is an incredibly intuitive psychic and spiritual advisor, who has devoted her life to helping clients find answers to their questions. Through her profound interpretations of tarot cards, as well as her extraordinary connection to the spiritual realm, she can provide powerful insights that will leave you feeling confident and empowered in your choices.
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