Nine of Wands | Tarot Card Meaning & Interpretation

Keywords for the Nine of Wands


In front of us we see a man who, battered and bruised, stands in front of a tall fence of wands he has built himself.

He grips a final, ninth wand tightly in front of him, on the defensive and ready to ward off any potential attack. 

Despite the defense he has created for himself, he is still wary and ill-at-ease. He gazes suspiciously behind him, unwilling to trust that he could be safe and out of harm’s way.

Interpretation of the 9 of Wands in a Reading

When the 9 of Wands appears in a reading, it typically indicates an area of our lives where we may feel insecure and doubtful, one where we have been hurt before and now have difficulty in trusting again as a result. 

The Nine of Wands can indicate an unwillingness to let our guard down. We may feel wary about others’ motivations, and could exhibit defensive or even paranoid behavior, as we assume the very worst about a person or situation in our lives.

This is especially true if we have experienced trauma or abuse in our lifetime, particularly in childhood. This card at times speaks to the hypervigilance or generalized anxiety we may have developed as a response to overwhelming situations that occurred in our pasts.

It often indicates where we may be letting our physical and psychological defense mechanisms stand in the way of greater connection, intimacy and growth. 

When the 9 of Wands comes up, it may be helpful for us to ask ourselves if we are, in reality, responding to an actual, present danger—if we are truly in danger now—or if this may in fact be a learned response based on a past situation we have now left behind.

The point of this kind of questioning is not to abandon ourselves in the places where we feel fear. Inquiring about the true nature of our patterns and defense mechanisms should instead be a gentle process of determining what our current needs truly are, and then, if our habitual patterns of response no longer feel adequate, looking for creative new ways to meet the needs of our current lived experience (rather than simply responding to the past).

It is often useful to remember that no matter how “unreasonable” a reaction to challenging circumstances may seem, our subconscious mind is typically doing the very best it can to protect us from harm. We often find that what appears to be “self-sabotaging” behavior is often a perfectly logical response rooted in a desire to protect the self, that makes sense when viewed in light of past experiences. When viewed in this light, we often find that there is no self-sabotage, only self-protection. 

The challenge comes in catching yourself in the moment, having compassion for the parts of yourself that are afraid, and then finding new, more self-appropriate ways to meet your current needs for safety and security. When we can do so, we often find that our boundaries become less rigid, letting in more of what we want, and shutting out more of what we truly do not. 

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