Pessimism and the 9 of Swords

November 9th, 2015 § 6 comments § permalink


In Tarot, the 9 of Swords is a pretty pessimistic card.

The Rider Waite Smith version, for instance, shows someone sitting up in bed, hands to face, with 9 ghostly swords floating behind them as they worry about all the things that might go wrong.

Though certainly unsettling to see, this card is typically pointing to a state of mind as opposed to a state of reality. It’s a sword card after all, and at least in my reading system, it’s more about a way of thinking than a way of physically being.

But dark as it might be, is the state of mind described by the 9 of Swords always ‘bad’? Not to suggest that a constant state of anxiety is good, but could there be something positive to say about pessimism and looking at the world from a non-cheery perspective?

Yes, at least according to writer Alain de Botton and director Claudio Salas in their School of Life video The Wisdom of Pessimism.

Take a look at it for yourself and see what you think. It certainly gave me a new perspective on the 9 of Swords.

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