The Nine of Wands is the penultimate card in the Minor Arcana suit of Wands and represents approaching the finish line of a project or endeavor. It suggests an attitude of hard-won resilience, courage, and the strength to defend oneself against encroaching forces, whether internal or external.

The Nine of Wands is associated with the element of fire and with the second decan of the Sagittarius zodiac sign (10-19 degrees) in astrology. It is ruled by the Moon, which represents changeability and adaptability, as this celestial body is constantly in flux. It speaks to the fortitude that comes from learning to ride the waves of life’s changes.

Where the key meanings of the Major Arcana focus on life’s overarching themes and events, Minor Arcana cards like the Nine of Wands explore and reveal the more subtle changes impacting one’s day-to-day life and near future. Likewise, the suit of Wands tends to explore our feelings and emotional states, while the suit of Pentacles, for example, gives us a closer look at our material reality.

The Nine of Wands can also be considered with relation to the number nine’s meaning in numerology, with nine representing an inner awakening following a period of struggle.

Nine of Wands Keywords

Upright Keywords

Reversed Keywords

strength, courage, resilience, boundaries, flexibility, defensiveness

porous boundaries, fear of change, fear of vulnerability, hyper-vigilance, resentments, ongoing battle 

Description of the Nine of Wands Tarot Card

In the Nine of Wands, the eight wands which were previously flying through the air have reached their destination on land. Now they form a row that creates a boundary protecting him from further attack. The 9s in the Minor Arcana reveal the final challenges and lessons that must be assimilated in order to reach the completion of the suit.

In the Rider Waite Smith tarot deck, the man seems poised for battle as he glances backward in anticipation of yet another ambush. The wands behind him may represent the resources he’s acquired along the way or else the boundary he puts between himself and others out of fear. He guards one wand closely, indicating he’s on high alert for danger.

He’s close to the finish line, but he’s sustained injuries along the way. His bandaged head suggests that he may be emotionally wounded as well as physically hurt—the opposition he’s faced has taken a toll and has left him in a posture of defensiveness. Although the journey here has left him slightly weary, he has strengthened his courage and resilience along the way.

Nine of Wands Upright Meaning

When the Nine of Wands appears upright, you may be feeling worn down by a long journey, project, or undertaking during this part of your life. You have found your courage by learning to stand up for yourself, advocate for your needs, and assert your true self in the world. This process has been difficult and has left you wondering if you have the strength to continue on and reach the last stand. This card asks you to gather your courage and not to give up hope yet, for the finish line is just around the corner.

This card asks if you are responding to life from a place of defensiveness or in anticipation of facing opposition from others. You may have encountered these difficulties in the past, but this card asks if you can draw upon your strength as you face whatever is currently challenging you.

The upright Nine of Wands meaning affirms that you’ve strengthened your character through a series of trials and have earned a hard-won feeling of resiliency as a result. You have learned to stand up for yourself, either to those who oppose you externally or to the internal voices which stir feelings of self-doubt. Your scars are evidence of the lessons you’ve learned, and the wands in this card represent all that you’ve achieved.

Love and Relationships (Upright Meaning)

In a tarot card reading, the Nine of Wands upright suggests that you’re approaching the romantic connections in your life from a place of guardedness and defensiveness. This is understandable if you’ve experienced heartbreak, rejection, or betrayal in the past. This card suggests that you can balance your need for strong and healthy boundaries with a willingness to be open about your insecurities, pain, and fears.

The upright Nine of Wands encourages you to draw on the lessons you’ve learned in previous relationships as you now have a clearer idea of what you want within a relationship. When you advocate for yourself and decide not to settle for a relationship that doesn’t meet your needs, you make space for someone who is in alignment with your greatest good.

Love/relationships upright keywords

Career/finance upright keywords

guardedness, defensiveness, healthy boundaries, not settling

resilience, strength, adaptability, pride, facing inner fears

Career and Finance (Upright Meaning)

The upright Nine of Wands suggests that you’ve faced many battles in your work and have learned your true strength in the process. You have learned to be resilient in the face of challenge, and you have a few battle scars to show for it. You’ve learned how to adapt when unexpected events occur, how to anticipate inevitable changes, and how to stand up for your boundaries. You can enjoy a feeling of pride, knowing that your achievements are the result of your hard work.

The Nine of Wands upright can also appear when you’re facing internal battles. You may be working through feelings of anxiety, low self-worth, or doubts about your abilities. You can face these inner forces of opposition with gentle courage and call on your strength to remember your true worth. You may benefit from placing boundaries around your thoughts or around those that reinforce your negative feelings and creating a field of protection around you.

Nine of Wands Reversed Meaning

When the Nine of Wands appears reversed in a tarot reading, you may be feeling that your boundaries are being infringed upon by others. If you are feeling the discomfort of not having your needs respected, this is a signal to advocate for yourself. If you are avoiding standing up for yourself due to a fear of conflict, this card is a reminder that you can call on your courage to act in the face of fear.

The reversed Nine of Wands can signify that you are having trouble opening up or being emotionally vulnerable due to a fear of rejection or of being hurt. You may be consciously or unconsciously guarded, making it difficult to let others in. This card is a reminder to call on your inner strength and resources, and to remind yourself that you are capable of feeling the fear of rejection and showing up as your full self anyway.

The Nine of Wands reversed can also indicate that you’ve been through many challenges and are feeling angry for what you’ve had to endure. You may be ruminating on past hurts, comparing yourself to others, or viewing life with bitterness. If you can find the meaning and the lessons in your struggles, you can use them to empower you rather than keep you trapped in feelings of resentment.

Love and Relationships (Reversed Meaning)

The Nine of Wands reversed can indicate that you are emotionally guarded and that this is preventing you from forming the intimacy that you desire. You may want to examine your past hurts and reflect on how they are impacting the way you now approach relationships with loved ones. If you can find the strength to forgive yourself and others and use your past challenges for growth, you can open to new connections and relationships.

This card can also suggest that you are stubbornly holding onto resentments and anger in the context of a current relationship. You may find it difficult to move forward as you ruminate on what went wrong in the past. This card can indicate that you must either find a path toward forgiveness and healing or else create a firm boundary and step away from a relationship if it does not meet your needs.

Love/relationships reversed keywords

Career/finance reversed keywords

emotionally guarded, reflecting on past hurts, forgiveness, holding onto resentments, stubbornness 

taking a stand for what you need, protecting what you’ve worked for, boundaries being infringed upon, saying no, facing inner fears

Career and Finance (Reversed Meaning)

The Nine of Wands can appear reversed when it is time to take a stand for what you need and take steps to protect what you’ve worked hard to achieve. You may feel your boundaries being infringed upon in the workplace by clients or by those in your professional field. If you feel yourself being drained by these infringements, it is a signal to say no to what does not support your work and energy.

In the reverse, the Nine of Wands can also indicate that you are confronting your limiting beliefs and attitudes about your work and your abilities. It can represent the weight of internal voices, the part of you that is scared of failing, which warn you against putting yourself out there again. This card suggests you can stand up to those inner voices and courageously take action toward your goals.