These last few Swords pips don’t really get any more comfortable. In fact, they get darker and darker. The Nine of Swords depicts a nighttime scene with the subject sitting up in bed, apparently wracked with anxiety, terror, or grief. The black, black wall behind them could be an endless quagmire of darkness, but the most important feature here is that there are seven bold swords hanging there. While the hilts are all visible, the points vanish off to the right somewhere.
Before we get too far into the meaning of this card, I would like to draw your attention to some interesting details in this card’s art. First, on the side panel of the bed in the lower left, we see an intricately carved frieze that seems to depict two figures either playing or fighting among some trees. Next, the bedspread has very interesting designs on it! The roses are easy to pick out, but the blue panels, if you look closely, are covered in needlework depicting a variety of astrological symbols. Mars, the ruler of this Decan, sits in the subject’s lap, while Mercury, the ruler of this sign, hangs down nearer the floor. But they are not alone; take a closer look and see what you can spot.
The anguish depicted in this card is very difficult – an uncomfortable image and a crappy feeling to experience. This is one of those cards that is awkward to explain in a reading for a client, just as much as it is troubling to deal with when reading for yourself. I tend to look at the Minor Arcana in sequences, and as a suit climbs from Ace to Ten, at the same time, it descends further through the worlds of emanations to material reality.
Through this lens, the Nine of Swords is about elements in the Intellectual Realm nearing the first stages of material manifestation. Here, the pure intellect of the Swords begins once more to mix with the other elements. Ideas face reality, and suddenly there is a reckoning. What is the cost of your current path? What do you need to destroy in order to create? Almost every act of creation ends up having a price tag, and sometimes that price is difficult to bear.