Nine of Swords – Anxiety and Doubt

I’ve been working my way through The Creative Tarot by Jenna Crispin (who is almost as ubiquitous as Lin Manuel-Miranda these days). One of my favorite cards in the deck is the Nine of Swords. Does that strike you as odd? Like claiming I love The Tower or something?

I relate to this card. This card speaks to my biggest battle. Anxiety. Self-doubt. Waking at 3am wondering what the hell I’m doing with my life. I love when art captures emotion so well as in this card.

The Creative Tarot recommends different art, music, projects that correspond or connect to the card in question:


This is The Temptation of St. Anthony, an engraving by Schongauer. If you notice, the demons are detailed and realistic, and this makes it feel accurate to me. When we are challenged to confront our anxieties with reality testing, I’m often able to see the demons as quite colorful and substantial. My talent is creating a reality out of hints. I do this all day long when I write or think about writing or read other peoples’ writing. Reality testing is not a solution that works for me.

Another thing that struck me was that the demons are interesting. They are entertaining and fascinating. This is a nice clue that sometimes my anxieties might be there because I like them better than the alternative: hard work.

The third piece for me is the look on St Anthony’s face and his posture. He’s not looking at the demons. It’s almost as if they aren’t there at all; only in our gaze are they visible. He is a bit of a badass in his ability to carry on while beset on all sides by distractions and temptations.

So, the next time I wake at 3am or am crying at 2 in the afternoon, I will remember badass St. Anthony and his horde of intricate demons. No fuss. Just chill. Back to work.

2 thoughts on “Nine of Swords – Anxiety and Doubt

  1. I, too, know the Nine of Swords well, both for anxiety and insomnia. I wouldn’t say it’s one of my favorite cards, but I’ve gotten it so often that I don’t usually freak out when it pops up in a reading.

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