9 of Swords – Cruelty

It’s a Tarot truth: some cards are generally well-liked and viewed as being “good” or “positive” – see here such cards as The Sun and the 9 of Cups – while others tend to generate responses of fear and dread. The Death card, The Devil, and The Tower would fall firmly into this latter camp. So would a generous helping of cards drawn from the Suit of Swords, including our friend shown here, the 9 of Swords.

This card was dubbed “Cruelty” by Aleister Crowley in his madly influential Thoth Tarot, and more modern descendants of the Thoth – such as the Tabula Mundi Tarot, whose rendition of this card is shown here – often maintain that designation.  The English-speaking world’s most popular deck, the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot, offers up as its version the striking image of a woman sitting up in bed in the throes of raging worry and sleeplessness while the night drags itself by at an agonizing crawl…

The 9 of Swords, then, is all about such concepts as anxiety, stress, panic, insomnia, and that damaging state of being that I like to call The Mind Eating Itself. It’s about the brain running wild, and hurling itself into grim, worst-case scenarios that much of the time haven’t even happened yet, and may never come to pass at all. And when this card appears in a reading, it’s often inviting querents to recognize these kinds of patterns in themselves, and to do anything they can to break out of this cycle of self-directed mind-cannibalism.

That’s obviously more easily said than done: do you know how many modern-day humans suffer from serious anxiety of some kind and/or sleep disorders? If this includes you, then you’re very far from alone. That may be of little comfort at 3AM when the thought-ghouls come calling, but it’s deeply true.

So what’s to be done in these times? Some people have had success with one or more of the following: exercise, stretching, yoga, meditation, mantras, acupuncture/acupressure, Emotional Freedom Technique (“EFT”), Reiki or other energy-healing, herbs, aroma therapy, a change in bedroom lighting, moving to a new environment for sleeping, changing the current sleeping environs in some significant way, white noise of some kind, keeping crystals that promote sleep in the vicinity, or listening to audio recordings that are specifically aimed at encouraging the listener’s ability to achieve healthy and restful slumber.

You might also try sitting with a 9 of Swords card that especially speaks to you, and try engaging with it. Address it directly in your mind, and try asking it why you’re so beset by your anxieties or insomnia…or if you’re confident in your ability to be authoritative, tell it in no uncertain terms to knock it off already, and to take a break from harassing you. We’re all different, so you may be looking at a bit of trial and error with this method, but I’ve personally had great and consistent success with using cards in this interactive sort of way, so you might consider trying it.

And remember that the card isn’t called “Cruelty” by so many Tarot people for nothing: it’s about the cruelty that our minds visit upon themselves. If that describes your own situation, then maybe a Tarot-style intervention is in order!

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