Nine of Wands Meaning: Upright and Reversed

Tarot cards can sometimes depict the opposite of strength, resilience, and fortune. The major arcana is often associated with more positive qualities (unless it’s The Tower), but The minor arcana proves that you can find courage in the unexpected. At the same time, The minor arcana often masquerades itself as a power that tends to falter under a stiff breeze.

That’s especially true with The Nine of Wands, whose upright meaning can be just as negative as its Reverse position. In fact, The Nine of Wands is one of those few cards where the Reverse meaning can spell out a good fortune in the future, just not right now, which may be disheartening.

While not actually in the middle of the Wands, the ninth card is often treated as the halfway point because of what it represents: persistence, resilience, rigidity, and stubbornness. At this point, you’re already on your quest, but you’re deciding if you should keep pushing or give up.

Let’s look at the Nine of Wands Tarot’s meaning and how it can improve your stamina.

Nine of Wands Card Numbering


The Nine of Wands is the 9th card in the Wands grouping within the minor arcana and rests between the Eight of Wands and the Ten of Wands. In a modern 52 card deck as well as many modern Tarot decks, the Nine of Wand is sometimes used synonymously with the Nine of Clubs.

The Meanings of the Nine of Wands

A standard Tarot deck has 4 minor arcana suits: Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles. The Wands Suit is typically first in order. It is used to symbolize the Clubs Suit in a 52 card deck as well as the element fire, primal energy, creativity, businessmen, or ambition.  

The Suit of Wands handles Will-type actions (the faculty of the mind) and is related to accomplishments, work, or broadly related to fruitfulness. Wands work on the spiritual level of consciousness and address your inner workings. Therefore, your personality, ego, self-concept, personal energy, and enthusiasm could all be judged when you pull the Wand Suit.

The Meaning of the Nine of Wands in Astrology

The Nine of Wands is linked to the zodiac sign Sagittarius. Sagittarius is characterized as loyal, smart, and talented. As a Fire sign, they’re impatient, idealistic, and passionate. Sagittarius are happy when they’re going on an adventure, taking risks, connecting with others.

Nine of Wands Card Meaning

the card

The upright Nine of Wands shows the flip-side of an exciting, dynamic action: tiredness. While we don’t often compare fatigue with energy because there’s a limit to how much someone can expend at a given time, the Nine of Wands is all about finding strength against all odds. 

Consider this: Have you ever been in a situation where you want to give up, but you can’t? 

Millions of Americans are struggling with the daily struggle of employment. We know we have to keep our jobs to keep our homes, possessions, and health insurance, but it would feel so much better to stay home. But, if we quit, we’ll be back to square one. Most of us don’t have the money, power, or privilege to get out of a bad situation, so we stick to the grind.

This problem stacks onto itself when you’re working hard with no improvement. It’s endlessly discouraging to be passed up for a job, raise, or promotion when you’re performing better than your peers. Worse yet, you’re stuck in place because you were drawn a bad hand at birth.

The Nine of Wands is about that moment. That recognition of weariness comes after a period of intense work, either directed at the physical, mental, or spiritual body. 

You’re sick and tired of fighting, be that for your rights or for a project. At this point, The Nine of Wands is asking you to consider whether all that energy is worth it. If the fight you’re fighting should continue, or whether you should stop, reflect, and shift gears.

But, The Nine of Wands knows you, it sees you, and it’s telling you one thing: keep on keeping on. Even in a reverse state, this card asks you to gather your strength for the next battle, even if you feel fatigued. The main difference between an upright and reverse reading is how close you are to defeat. Upright acknowledges you’re weary; reversed is a last-stand.

In the end, the Nine of Wands wants you to know you’re worth it. It asks you to take a deep breath, work on yourself, and find the passion inside of you. Those that draw this card have a real drive inside themselves that’s begging to be let loose, so let it loose.

In time, the drawer will realize that change can come from a period of desperation, positive or negative. It’s okay to feel tired, especially during soul work, but you need to keep working and striving for better. Why? That answer is up to you. Eventually, you’ll be in a better place.

We can break the Nine of Wands down into four distinct parts:

  • The Nine of Wands is exhausted: The Nine of Wands is leaning on one of the nine sticks. He’s starting to put all of his weight on the stick, but he’s so tired he can’t keep it upright. He’s bruised, damaged, hurt, and unwilling to keep going.
  • At the same time, he’s a bit vengeful: Look at the Nine of Wands stance. He’s gripping the stick tightly. His shoulders are stiff, his posture is straight, and he’s staring at the sky without lifting up his head. This suggests anger, vengeance, and a spark of fear.
  • The main lesson the Nine of Wands teaches is perseverance: Despite his fears and injuries, The Nine of Wands isn’t someone to mess with. He’s still willing to keep going. He knows the path ahead is a difficult one, but he’s willing to keep fighting.
  • It also teaches us courage: Fear and courage go hand in hand; they aren’t opposites. Fear can cause us to run from problems, but without fear, an act can’t be courageous. The Nine of Wands teaches you that courage can be found in moments of dread.

In this article, you’ll learn what the Nine of Wands means in different situations. If the Nine of Wands is supposed to act as a teacher, let it be your guide.

Nine of Wands Card Imagery Description

This imagery description is based on The Original Rider Waite Tarot Deck design.

The man in the Nine of Wands represents persistence, courage, and perseverance. At the same time, the Nine of Wands can also be seen as an uncompromising, stubborn figure who is suffering from chronic fatigue. He’s planning to withdraw, retreat, and give up.

The Nine of Wands is on the ground, likely in a field, where 8 sticks are placed tightly together, mimicking prison bars. The last stick is in his hands and looks like it’s been plucked from the background. That small opening is freedom, but he’d have to turn to his side to get out. Far away is a field, or are they mountains? Either way, he’s looking up. This scene tells us:

  • The Wand is responsible for his own happiness: He took one of the wands to get out. If he took another, he’d be free. This implies he could get out of his situation if he tried.
  • The Wand feels he has no control over his situation: It appears the Wand is giving up halfway. He’s looking up as if to curse God for his predicament.
  • The Wand can’t decide to stay or go: The Wand could just walk out, but he isn’t, meaning he’s stuck between completing his goal and stopping halfway through.

Right now, The Nine of Wands is conflicted. He wants to reach his goals, but he’s tired and possibly looking for someone else to blame. It could be anyone: a supernatural deity, a person, circumstances, or himself. But, what good is blame without a solution?

The Nine of Wands could easily take control of the situation because he’s managed to do it so far. It’s a matter of him finding the strength within himself to keep going. His clothes suggest he’s a peasant or possibly without money. His bandage implies he’s been through the wringer. He’s at his wit’s end, and no one would blame him for stopping, but could he live with himself?

Finally, his orange tunic and green boots show a range of emotions. Orange represents energy and enthusiasm, and green fosters feelings of optimism, growth, and security. The brown sticks conjure ideas of support and stability, and the blue sky is calming and relaxing. All these emotions represent that card’s truths: We want change and growth, but we also desire security.

Upright Nine of Wands Card Meaning 



  • Battle Weary
  • Fatigue
  • Ongoing Battle
  • Drained of Energy
  • Close to Success
  • Nearly there
  • Persistence
  • Courage
  • Perseverance
  • Learning from Mistakes
  • Holding Out
  • Strength of Will
  • Setbacks
  • Backbone

The Suit of Wands is associated with primal strength, spirituality, and determination. In your Tarot reading, the Wands want to know what makes you tick, but the Nine of Wands specifically asks you what you’re going to do at this point of your journey. Your cards are worried about you, and they may be asking you to consider resting after the battle temporarily.

Pulling an upright Nine of Wands is a clear sign that something is happening in your life that is causing you to feel tired beyond the point of recovery, at least, at the moment. You’ve likely been fighting for some time now, and you just want to take a break. Maybe a break is impossible due to your commitments as a parent or employee, but you need to find a way to slow down.

You’ve likely heard of the term “burnout,” which can be summed up as chronic tiredness. Burnout is a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion caused by prolonged and excessive stress. It occurs when you feel emotionally drained and overwhelmed. 

At this point, the Nine of Wands isn’t necessarily telling you to quit your job and move to the deepest forests of Madagascar, but it is saying that you need to take a good look at your mental health. Are you well enough to keep going, and if you are, when will you take a break?

The Nine of Wands is definitely telling you that you’re onto something here. With that said, you can’t sacrifice your own health to reach your goals unless it’s absolutely necessary. Your situation may be desperate, and you may need to push yourself to get out of it. I can’t in good conscience say “take a step back” when you’re fighting to survive when this cause is important.

However, plenty of activists leave their movements entirely because they don’t care for themselves. You’re at the point where you could take a weekend off and be ready to go by the week. You still need to take time for yourself amongst the never-ending battle. 

Or, you may repeat the same mistake. The Nine of Wands is a warning, not a positive affirmation, despite its upright position. This card places a lot of emphasis on learning from past challenges and growing stronger from them. It doesn’t say to run in the same place until you tire yourself out. As a positive: Wands is telling you to do something before you become jaded.

The Nine of Wands doesn’t appear to just anyone. You’ll need to pick up your boxing gloves, and not necessarily to ward off attackers, but to protect yourself from yourself.

In a yes or no reading, the Nine of Wands is either a no or maybe. If you’re asking the cards if you should stand firm on a decision, then perhaps you should. If you plan on pivoting, it’s better to wait things out. Otherwise, exhaustion, discontent, and worry might emerge. 

Upright Nine of Wands Card in a Love Reading


Symbolizes how difficult love can be, but it’s possible with hard work

Drawing the upright Nine of Wands in a love-focused tarot spread is a bad omen in a sense. It could mean your partner is in a bind, or it could mean you’ve prepared for hard times.

The upright Nine of Wands is telling you that, either way, the love you’re striving for is going to take a lot of work, self-improvement, and sacrifice on your part. But really, isn’t that the nature of love? After the honeymoon stage, you’ll have to adapt, work together, and prepare for the worst.

If you’re single, you’re likely struggling from a past relationship. Your wounds haven’t healed yet, and you’re getting sick of this person affecting you. While you feel you won’t get past this, you’re close! Keep working on yourself, and you’ll get the relationship you deserve.

Upright Nine of Wands Card Career Meaning 

Symbolizes an exhausted person who has a nearly completed project; keep going!

Drawing the upright Nine of Wands in a career setting marks the halfway point of the battle. You’re tired, sure, but another battle rages inside of you that’s telling you to walk forward against all odds. This card reminds you that the troubles in your career are temporary.

Upright Nine of Wands Card Financial Meaning

Symbolizes financial trouble, pressure, stress, or total economic duress.

A person who draws the upright Nine of Wands for their finances isn’t doing well for themselves. Are you in an economically tight situation, or are you under some pressure to pay a bill?

You’re likely looking at your bank account and cringing, but if at all possible, you should avoid dwindling your savings or compromising your finances further by buying things.

It’ll make you feel better in the moment, but it may be more productive to look for another source of income. You will come out of this economic duress soon. For now, persevere. 

Upright Nine of Wands Card Health Meaning


Symbolizes a prolonged illness that’s possibly coming to a positive end.

The upright Nine of Wands, thankfully, explains that your prolonged bout with illness is about to end. You need to use every last bit of your strength to push forward at this moment.

If you have a chronic or incurable illness, the Nine of Wands may mean that you’ll have a flare-up soon. As a positive, the flare-up will be temporary.

Upright Nine of Wands Card Spirituality Meaning

Symbolizes an experienced karmic lesson that you’re about to learn from

At some point, you’ve probably done something, good or bad, that taught you a lesson. Karma will come right back around to you, so let’s hope you did something good. The Nine of Wands in the upright position likely means you’re about to reap the rewards of a job well done.

Reversed Nine of Wands Card Meaning



  • Lack of compromise
  • Stubbornness
  • Giving In
  • Obstinate
  • Rigid
  • Repeating Mistakes
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Retreat
  • Cowardice
  • Weakness
  • Irresolution
  • Apathy
  • Withdrawal
  • Stalemate

The Nine of Wands in the upright position already knew that you were exhausted, but you were likely to the point where you had to acknowledge your situation. In the reversed position, The Nine of Wands can have 2 different meanings depending on the cards beside it.

The reversed Nine of Wands can state you’re either too stubborn, obstinate, or rigid to compromise or give in. These traits can be a good thing when you’re feeling well, but as of right now, you’re probably suffering from the sunk-cost bias. You think that you’ve put in too much time, money, or energy into a project. If you let it go, you may see yourself as a failure or a quitter.

Learning when to give up is just as important as perseverance. However, when the Nine of Wands is pulled with the “stubbornness” reading, you probably have to let go to salvage what’s left, be it your mental health or wealth. Sometimes, we need to learn when it’s time to let go.

That chip on your shoulder isn’t doing you any favors, but you’re holding on to it for a reason. It’s time to take a long, hard look at yourself and ask if this problem is worth the energy. 

This reading often comes to people experiencing a loss of a relationship. It likely means you’re too proud to admit you’re wrong, or you’re unwilling to compromise, regardless of who’s right.

The reversed Nine of Wands can also mean the exact opposite of the previous reading. It could mean that you’re looking to withdraw, retreat, and give up. You likely have no strength left to fight, and you’re uninterested in taking risks or making any long-term moves or commitments. 

The Nine of Wands states you’ve been trapped in your own personal prison regardless of reading. You’re afraid that you won’t have enough resources to face the next upcoming challenges, so you’re either running away from your problems or unproductive in solving them.

The situation you’re in needs to change. You’re restricting yourself from growing and reaching new heights, but the Nine of Wands knows you’re capable of being brave. At the same time, this card tells you not to make hasty or careless decisions that may cost you your future.

A great personal fear or mentality is affecting you deeply. You need to deal with this situation immediately. Otherwise, your fear could consume you and prevent you from moving forward.

Reversed Nine of Wands Card Love Meaning

reversed card

Symbolizes a failing relationship due to mutual apathy or the apathy of one person.

Drawing the reversed Nine of Wands in a love-focused Tarot spread isn’t good. Despite your best efforts, it looks like your romantic life isn’t going in the way you expected.

Sometimes that can be a good thing. The Nine of Wands could be explaining that the person you’ve been fighting for is draining you. Remember that disagreements are natural, but both partners have to put in an equal amount of effort for the relationship to bear fruit.

If you’re single when the reversed Nine of Wands appears, that’s a great sign! It likely means you’re willing to let your guard down when it comes to love. You’ve learned from your past relationships, and you’re ready to move on. We recommend getting back into the dating world.

Reversed Nine of Wands Card Career Meaning 

Symbolizes a person experiencing professional exhaustion or career fatigue.

Drawing a reversed Nine of Wands could be a sign that you’re drained after fighting for a position in your company. That promotion you were vying for, whether you got it or not, may have made you angry. This could have led to increased stubbornness or broken morals.

Not every fight has to be won, so whether you’re struggling against your own feelings or external conflict, you may have to admit defeat. Try to learn how to pick your battles.

Reversed Nine of Wands Card Finances Meaning 

Symbolizes a lack of responsibility for your financial situation.

The reversed Nine of Wands is a sign that you need to take responsibility for your finances. It might be tempting to run away from your problems or stick your feet in, but I recommend against it. Escapism is always tempting, but it’s ultimately destructive.

While, yes, there will probably be a lot of easy-outs for you in the next coming days. You might come into some money, or you may consider using your credit cards or taking out a loan.

Resist all urges to do something that could permanently ruin your financial future. Don’t waste money on a vacation you can’t afford that traps you in a cycle of debt. If you start spending recklessly, you’ll stress yourself out even more, which may cause you to spend again.

At this time, you also need to pay attention to your valuables. The Nine of Wands can be an omen for hidden thieves in your friend group, so keep an eye on your things.

Reversed Nine of Wands Card Health Meaning

card reading

Symbolizes a returning illness or a sickness that could leave you out of commission. 

Drawing the reversed Nine of Wands spells disaster for your health. You either have a chronic illness that might flare up for a long while, or you’re going to get sick again. It’s unlikely that you’ll fall ill due to a new condition you haven’t had before, but that’s still a possibility.

This card is also a strong indication that you don’t want to fight the illness, or you’re unable to keep up the pretense that you aren’t suffering. If the card is speaking to you in this way, I recommend speaking to a medical professional, a psychiatrist, or a trusting friend.

Reversed Nine of Wands Card Spirituality Meaning

Symbolizes a difficult time that has caused you to drastically change your personality.

Normally, you’re pretty adaptable, and you tend to accept change, but not at this moment. The karmic lesson that was previously shown to you is now making you feel afraid or unwilling to compromise. Pay attention to what the universe tells you and embrace it; don’t hide from it.

Nine of Wands Card Combinations

The Nine of Wands is only truly reliant on cards if it appears as a reverse card. Still, the following combinations provide some deeper insight into the decisions you need to make.

  • The Sun: What you’re wrestling with has overtaken your life.
  • The Hermit: You’re fighting a battle alone when you don’t have to.
  • The Empress: You’re feeling resentment towards a person.
  • The Emperor: A responsible job position will show up soon.
  • Strength: You’re in a character-building situation that’s zapping your strength.
  • Justice: At the moment, you’re fighting for the basics, and you feel insecure.
  • Death: Resistant to change and unmoving when it comes to your choices.
  • The Tower: A good omen. It means you’ve gotten your long-awaited retribution.
  • The Star: You have to tell the truth in a time no one else dares to.
  • Eight of Cups: You’re trying to lead a secret life to protect your dream.
  • Knight of Cups: A crippling, almost chronic fear of rejection.
  • Nine of Swords: Putting too much pressure on yourself to be perfect.

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What Does the Nine mean in Tarot?

Answer: Nines are among the most powerful cards because they attempt to grant what you’re seeking, for better or worse. This is because the Nine is a number of completion. It’s the number that appears when everything you’ve learned and accomplished is integrated into a single truth. Nines return us to ourselves as we think about what else we can do to make us feel complete.

Question: What Does the Nine of Wands for the Past Mean?

Answer: In the past position, the Nine of Wands represents a previous period or event where you had to put in a significant amount of effort. You barely scraped by, but you managed to conquer it, despite a lot of loss. The Nine of Wands is telling you that, despite the trials and tribulations of life, you can always come out on top if you keep striving for better.

Question: What Does the Nine of Wands for the Present Mean?

Answer: In the present position, the Nine of Wands tells you that life is going steady right now, even with all of your hardships. However, there’s going to be another problem you’ll have to tackle just over the horizon. Don’t worry about that now; enjoy all the things you’ve worked for. Now’s the time to pack your bags and take a vacation because you may lose your chance.

Question: What Does the Nine of Wands for the Future Mean?

Answer: In the future position, the Nine of Wands represents a fear of the future. Although we’re often afraid of things we don’t know or understand, it’s a bad idea to waste your time stewing over what you can’t change. We can’t accurately predict what’s to come, but we can prepare ourselves for the worst. Keep your finances and friend group strong at this time.


The Nine of Wands is an exceptionally unique card pointing to a hard-to-swallow truth. You’re likely wrestling with something that’s causing you great pain, exhaustion, or frustration, but The Nine of Wands is here to show you the way. Through persistence, you’ll find your happy place.

A word of advice: When the Nine of Wands is pulled, we may feel annoyed. After all, it’s difficult to change our position in life when we don’t have the resources to do so. Some situations are almost impossible to navigate without money, power, or time, so don’t beat yourself up. Focus on things you can change and take small, baby steps towards your goals.

Further readings:

Nine of Swords Meaning: Upright and Reversed

The Nine of Pentacles Meaning: Upright and Reversed

Nine of Cups Meaning: Upright and Reversed

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