Its important to know that I based this card on my personal view of the Neuf d'Epee from the Tarot de Marseille.
My card shows a staircase with nine steps leading from a dark pool, in which lotuses grow, to a doorway that shows a clear, bright sky. A large sword is shown on the steps, as if it leads the way up. On the side of the staircase are three cogwheels. The doorstep is decorated with a rune.
Symbolism & Meaning
What is the number nine? It is the last of the single digit numbers and at the same time it holds all other numbers within (0+1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9 = 45 = 4+5 = 9). In many traditions, nine was held highly sacred and was thought to be the harmony of harmony, as it is composed of three triads. The number nine encompasses completion, the awareness of another level, and a sense of universality. In the Tarot, it is related to the Hermit (9) and the Moon (18 = 1+8).
The number nine is connected with the nine Muses, the Greek goddesses of inspiration, learning and culture. The ancient Egyptians believed that a human individual was composed out of nine elements; their Great Ennead existed out of the nine Heliopolitan deities that formed the core of power.
What is air? It is the element of freedom; it is the essential life-giving breath, the flight of the spirit. Air is the only one of the elements that is not material; as the mind, it holds no limits and opens itself to infinity.
The sword and staircase are a symbol for the knowledge that is brought from deep down the subconscious to full consciousness. It also shows the ascent to another, higher state of awareness. Carole Sedillot writes: This trump marks the passing from ignorance to knowledge - spirit isn't far from Spirit. The sword is bright yellow to show its luminosity.
Because lotuses grow deep in the muddy soil and send their flowers to the surface of the water, they are the perfect symbol for the ascent of the soul from darkness to illumination. The 9 of Swords is an idealist; he reaches for the sky.
The lotuses are still closed here in the card (reminiscent of the four flower buds on the Tarot de Marseille), so they have yet to be brought to their full potential; first the stair has to be climbed. The first steps are quite big, so its important not to rush things, but to take them one step at a time. But mentally, the 9 of Swords is working like a machine, like the cogwheels depicted on the side of the staircase.
A rune is carved on the last step of the stairs, as a reminder of the Norse god Odin, who hung nine days and nights on the nine-rooted Yggdrasil tree to gain knowledge of the runes. The rune shown here is Dagaz (Day/Dawn), indicating awareness, awakening, clarity and a stepping out in to the light.
Keywords: profoundness of thought, comprehension, study, experience, learning, ascent, clarity, sense of duty, responsibilities.
I coloured the card with Derwent watercolour pencils and added the title with Photoshop 7.0. The font is AnkeCalligraph.
Spoonbender is a Dutch-speaking, 17-year-old student who lives in Flanders, Belgium. He bought his first tarot deck at the age of 15, after a growing interest in paganism. Spoonbender is interested in history, art and mythology, and graduated from high school in 2004.
Go back to the project index, read the traditional card meaning, or get a free tarot reading with this deck.