9 of Swords

Remorse, worry, distraught, conclusion

Range of meanings

Light: Refusing to worry about what you cannot control. Rejecting anxiety. Judging your own performance with kindness and gentleness. Using meditation to quiet a troubled mind. Confronting nightmares and fears. Drawing a conclusion and putting an issue out of your mind.

Shadow: Torturing yourself with regrets. Second-guessing your every move. Beating yourself up for your mistakes. Depression. Obsessing on errors and overlooked details. Refusing to handle stress in healthy ways. Ruining your ability to appreciate the present by dwelling on the past. Debating irreversible decisions.

Questions to ask

  1. Logic has taken you as far as it can; beyond this point, all you can do is call into question (and devalue) the good work you’ve done. It may well be time for you to make a choice—and stick with it!
  2. What role does worry play in your current situation?
  3. To what other ends might you devote the energy you’re giving to anxiety?
  4. How can you know when it’s time to stop thinking and start acting?


Personal Growth: Worry wastes energy. If something happens, it happens; the energy expended on worry won’t change a thing. Do what you can do, and let the Universe handle the rest. Maturity dictates letting go of unhealthy obsessions and learning to be happy with the here and now.

Work: The blame game can gobble up unlimited hours and energy; don’t play it. Review errors only with an eye toward improving future performance. Instead of dwelling on missed opportunities, define what must be done to create new ones.

Relationships: Comparing your current relationship to past or fantasy relationships is a formula for discontent and depression. Rather than wring your hands, say what’s on your mind. Don’t allow your past mistakes to smother your delight in the present.

Spirituality: Everyone has regrets. Rather than be strangled by them, use your regrets as a means of enhancing empathy for others. Understanding that we’ve all made mistakes can help us remember to cut everyone a little slack. Use your pain to gain insight into the pain others feel.

Fortune-Telling: If you take the action you’re considering now, you’ll be sorry in the future.


Astrological: Gemini

Planet: Mars

Fool's Journey: The main character agonizes over a past mistake.

The Number 9: The Completion: fullness, readiness, ripeness.

Swords: One of the four suits of the tarot. Also sometimes called blades, knives or athames. Represents logic, objectivity, intellect, and choice. Along with the responsibility such talents bring. Swords suggest logic, clarity, and decision-making. Remember the story of wise King Solomon, who once offered to slice a baby in half in order to resolve a dispute over motherhood? Swords cut through confusion, revealing our agendas in the process.

Rack of Swords: In the RWS, the swords in this 9 of Swords point forward, suggesting a dread of future events. If you pause to define exactly what you fear, you may find that you diminish that fear’s ability to rob you of a good night’s sleep.

Distraught Figure: In illustrations for 9 of Swords, postures of agony abound. Something is keeping this person up, perhaps it's something from a nightmare, or something from real life.