July 23, 2024
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As a reminder, the suit of swords is driven by masculine energy and channels the power of the intellect and mind, including all the concepts, knowledge, and beliefs that it holds. Scholars and academics have connected the suit of swords to the classical element of air, and most of the cards from that suit embody the symbolic attributes of this element, one way or another.

The Ten of Swords Tarot Card Keywords

Upright: ruin, backstabbing, and taking things too far

Reversed: hypocrisy, delusion, denial, and false hope

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Modern Representations

Like many of the numbered minor arcana from the suit of swords, the Ten of Swords is an extremely difficult card to receive in a tarot drawing or spread. Even when dealing with something that has not happened yet, the negative message is so strong here that it will hardly be possible to fully avoid it. Something important is about to come to an end, and something dear to the subject of the reading will eventually probably be lost in that final struggle.

10 of Swords Mythic Tarot

The Mythic Tarot (1986/2008)

10 of Swords Haindl Tarot

The Haindl Tarot (1990)

10 of Air Rebirth Osho Zen Tarot

Osho Zen Tarot (1995)

10 of Swords Law of Attraction Tarot

Law of Attraction Tarot (2011)

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10 of Swords Spellcaster Tarot

Spellcaster Tarot (2016)

10 of Swords Ostara Tarot

Ostara Tarot (2017)

Upright Ten of Swords Meaning

The Ten of Swords concludes the series of negatively charged cards found in the numbered minor arcana from the suit of swords. This might be the most depressing image in the series, with the corpse of a young man lying on the ground, stabbed through and through by ten swords still planted in his back.

The sky itself has ominously been painted black in the Rider-Waite tarot version of this card as if the horizon itself turned into a shroud for the victim. Thematically, some of these swords have probably been planted by former allies, in a situation echoing the feeling of betrayal embodied in Caesar’s final moments.

It might once again have been more suitable to divide the meaning of the Ten of Swords into regular and reversed meanings instead of positive and negative. Echoing the image of the man stabbed to his death in the picture, the core message behind the Ten of Swords in a reading represents the ultimate loss and defeat, where anything that might go wrong does. This is the ultimate crisis, with defeat leaving a bitter aftertaste because of the betrayal and abandonment of someone close.

The best way to deal with such a disastrous situation would be to acknowledge defeat because any further struggle or attempt to fight back would only prolong the inevitable agony, or cause even further collateral damage that might have been avoided.

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It should be noted, however, that this loss and final ending are figurative, the weapons used were the swords from the suit, representing matters of the mind and intellect. This card from the suit of Swords does not represent any actual violent death, only the death of a project, concept, or hope, and the Ten of Swords meaning is defeat, not literal death.

In a Question about Love and Relationship

The painful and final sentence found in the meaning of the Ten of Swords also applies when it is drawn in a tarot spread focusing on love and romantic relationships. In context, it often deals with the rather devastating end of a relationship, when communication has broken down between former lovers and partners, turning pleasure into pain and good memories into painful reminders. This could represent a long drawn out legal battle for a divorce where no agreement could be found between former partners and where the courts had to be involved.

In a Question about Career and Work

Career encompasses school and education if that is your current stage; work that is necessary, but not what you would consider a career path; and your actual career path. Regardless of your current stage of development, the Ten of Swords represents ruin and great loss.

If you are a student, then drawing this card indicates that you likely chose the wrong major, wrong college, or did so poorly that you cannot restore your grade point average. As a result, you will need to start over and accept that the time spent up to this point, is time lost.

If you are doing work that is necessary, but not a career, then you may be seeing this card as foreshadowing that your current job, if you stay in it, will lead to disaster. You should “see the writing on the wall” and find a way to get out before everything is ruined.

If you are in your career, and the Ten of Swords appears in a reading, then you need to acknowledge and make decisions knowing that your career path has been struggling for some time. If you continue to follow your current path, the results will be dire. If you are seeing your career end with financial loss, the sooner you let go and start in a new direction, the better.

Reversed Ten of Swords Meaning

When the already extremely negative Ten of Swords minor arcana card appears reversed in a drawing, it brings about an almost melodramatic emphasis to the situation. This is what happens when the subject of the reading refuses to let go against their inevitable defeat, prolonging the inevitable without any hope to change what is bound to happen.

As such, a reversed Ten of Swords often embodies the concept of denial, the refusal to accept an ill-fated end, no matter what happens.

In a Question about Love and Relationship

Reversed, this card indicates that you are trying to deny that the relationship is extremely toxic and needs to end. Each day you stay in the relationship the unhealthier it is for you. If you are not already dealing with illness from the mental anguish, the negativity could start affecting your physical as well as mental health.

In a Question about Career and Work

When this card appears reversed in a question about school, work, or career, then you are probably in the 4th stage of grief, depression. The longer you resist acknowledging that the situation is a total loss or failure, the more damage it will do to your long-term goals and survival. You need to move into acceptance in order to begin healing your academic, work, or career path.

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