It makes sense that the figure on the Nine of Swords is in bed because it is during the night that our griefs and regrets come to mind most intensely. The quiet darkness strips away the distractions of the day, leaving us alone with our thoughts. Who has not lain awake at 4 A.M. filled with worries that refuse to go away? The Nine of Swords represents this unhappiness which can strike us at any time.
Unlike the pain of the Three of Swords which seems to come from without, the Nine of Swords represents the pain that we generate from within. What tortures we put ourselves through when our fears and doubts overwhelm us. Worry is probably the most common. Have I done enough? Will everything work out OK? What am I going to do? The thoughts go round and round - impossible to turn off.
Guilt is another source of pain. When we have done something that we feel is wrong or hurtful - or failed to do something we think we should have - the distress can be very real. It is worse when nothing we do relieves the bad feelings or makes them go away. Finally, there is just pure anguish. Sometimes the pain of life is so total that all we feel like doing is crying into our hands.
Needless to say, the Nine of Swords is not the most pleasant of cards, but it doesn't always indicate major distress. Often it is just a sign of some element of unhappiness or trouble - a vulnerable spot in your life. This card is often a warning from your Inner Guide that the path you are going down may be a difficult one. If you approach the Nine of Swords in this spirit - as a caution sign - you will be able to use it constructively. Examine your situation carefully to be sure you are making the best choices. Even a small change can make all the difference.