9 of Swords: A Drawerful of Knives
(c) Cheryl Lynne Bradley 2005

The 9 of a Swords is a card I have always called the "tremendous headache" card - as in someone is giving me a tremendous headache. Traditional imagery depicts a woman sitting up in her bed holding her head in her hands while 9 swords dangle over her. Obviously a woman with a lot on her mind and no one to share it with. She has pain and sadness that has come from the dealings of her heart and from putting her faith in people. Every wound she has suffered, every knife in her back or through her heart, is now firmly stuck in the drawerful of knives that is her mind.

Knives are a very old tool and they come in infinite varieties. There are knives we use for cooking, eating and food preparation. We have a knife in our mind over every failed dinner, uncomplimented meal, missing ingredient and every criticized supper we have ever prepared. This is a knife of all the times we took the least for ourselves and let others have the quality and choice of what was available. We did not think ourselves worthy of even the crumbs off the table.

There is another knife in the drawer and it is the one that filleted us. It removed our backbone in one clean swipe like a fisherman gutting his catch, leaving us limp and in shock, unable to move or take action. It happens when we surrender our personal power to another person who is not worthy.

One of the knives - this one seems like one of those vicious looking Bowie knives - makes us feel like our guts have been ripped out and splayed in some sloppy, gory mess for all the world to see. Someone with a strong arm wielded that knife against us.

We all have a machete in that drawer too. We use it to go through our emotional house hacking mercilessly through the weeds and tears that only the thwarted can shed. These weeds have choked out the untended garden of our own self. We have been too busy tending to other people's gardens and forgot to make time for our own. We get angry when we realize this and we slaughter ourselves with that machete for every weakness, misplaced kindness and every cleverly insincere promise we ever believed.

Some knives are much more like a scalpel - they are so sharp that the damage is irreversibly done before we even realize we have been castrated spiritually by it. This is often the weapon of choice of our nearest and dearest friends These are the friends who smile in our faces while they plunge the sharp blade into our already aching backs and then they give it a really good twist.

There are also knives that are extremely useful for stripping skin from muscle and muscle from bone. We stand there like a bloody striped ribbon and wonder when the ones who are hurting us will see the damage and offer us some kind of help or, at least, an acknowledgment of what they have stripped from our very being. We weep and we wail, the pain is so intense, and we wonder why no one hears and no one sees us in this painful disarray.

There is also a knife there that we have used for our own private rituals. The one we envision we could use as a weapon to exact our revenge against the aggressors against our being. I am sure a few of us have visions of a trophy penis and testicles impaled with a knife to the wall. Some things are better left in the realm of fantasy though and you can buy fake sets of testicles that you could utilize in such a manner. It might be very psychologically liberating and definitely a conversation piece.

We also have a knife in that drawer that is about the endings that we have endured in life. The deaths of a friends and family, the ending of friendships and marriages, the loss of a job or a career - life is full of endings and partings of the way. This knife reminds us that life is a string, don't cut it.

The most important knife in the drawer is the one for carving and discerning. This is the knife that will enable us to carve out new beginnings, create things of beauty and prepare a feast for the ones we love. This is a knife of clear, sharp insight and being able to cut away all that is no longer pertinent in our lives. It allows us to make things fit properly by cutting away that which is not necessary.

So when someone is giving you a tremendous headache, remember the drawerful of knives and reach for the one that will enable you to create a new design for your life and whittle the problems away to nothing. It is really the only one of any importance anyway.


This page was created August 6, 2005 and updated 2010-06-11.