Before I started teaching & writing about Tarot I spent a long time thinking about how I wanted to do it. What my approach would I take.
I don’t read reversals, preferring to see every card as able to express it’s full potential- from severe warning to full blessings. That became my mission. To find the warning in the upbeat, happy cards. And the blessing in the darker cards. It has become a real passion of mine, and I have grown to love the journey.
So what is the blessing in the 9 of swords? This was the very hardest card to find a likable side to.
Honestly, along with the 5 of pentacles it is the card I least like to see in a reading.
The key I think is its suit, the suit of swords. I see the swords as representing our mind & words.
That dark, despairing figure. Unable to even look at life, in her narrow coffin-like bed. With those over-sized swords dominating the back-ground.
But the swords represent her mind. She can sit there all day, refusing to look at the world in the faint hope her pain & distress will get just a little better. But the pain and distress is inside her (or him). Nothing in the outer world will change until there is a realization that the pain is from with-in & not with-out.
For I have seen this card time and time again (for myself & others). Representing pain, stress, anxiety, despair. Yet the card represents this pain WITHIN THE MIND. Often when the client (or me) confronts the problem, faces the issue, looks the worry straight in the face. It is not as bad as first thought.
That is the only real blessing I can find with this card. It is suggesting the problem is within your mind, your perception of the problem has allowed to it grow too large (perhaps like the swords). Confronting the problem will often help you to feel just a little better.
Studying the symbols on the quilt helped me to understand the card a little better (or at least find the advice within the card, the image of despair is all too obvious)
I find with the Rider-Waite deck nothing is there by chance. Look carefully at the quilt and you will find 2 key symbols; red roses & astrological glyphs.
Red Roses; Mythology talks of the first roses being white. A God, or Goddess (many different ones are mentioned) pricked her finger on a rose thorn, and a drop of blood spilt onto the rose. As the rose filled with blood it’s as if it became fully alive with the life force of the Goddess.
Red Roses are physical, representing our life force, our vibrant red blood.
There is a Norse kenning/riddle “death makes a man pale” meaning dead, and the rose on the Rider-Waite death card is white.
So the red rose is saying get up. Do something, get the blood flowing. Even if you just make a cup of tea, get up!
Now do one thing that will practically help you face your worries. Open a bill, read your emails, phone a help line, speak to a friend.
Do just one thing, but do SOMETHING.
You can’t think your way out of the 9 of swords, it is your thoughts that have trapped you. Only physical action will help now.
The Astrological Glyphs; “This too shall pass” is my thought for the glyphs.
The world will keep turning, the sun will set and rise again. Time continues, life carries on.
I look back at times of major stress, disaster and upset in my life & I wonder why I didn’t realise that in time it would seem less important.
I try to remember now when feeling overwhelmed by life (and I do at times) that life moves on, today's worries will be something else tomorrow. Life is for living.
The most important thing about the 9 of swords is acknowledge it. It is a state of high anxiety and deep worry that can cause health issues in the long-term.
I have lived long periods dogged by the 9 of swords. I used to ask students to do a three card reading for me, with their deck, every time- 9 of swords.
Even on those times I thought the 9 of swords had moved on, it would be the card at the bottom of the pack.
The best thing about the 9 of swords? A wake-up call. A nudge that you are losing perspective, and need to nurture your mental health- in whatever way best suits you.
That’s it. That is the best I can find in this, the darkest of cards.
The only blessing is awareness, which brings with it the chance of change. O.k, that’s not so bad.
Did you know I also have a you-tube channel, take a look at my short video on the 9 of swords here;