Ten of Swords Tarot Card Meaning & Interpretations
In the Suit of Swords there's a gradual build up of stress, worry and problems as the numbers ascend. Beginning with the initial challenge of the Ace of Swords, the attempt at diplomacy in the 2 of Swords, the disappointed and heartache of the 3 of Swords continuing on until reaching a crescendo of mental, sleep depraving, anguish in the 9 of Swords. The scene in the 10 of Swords, which looks like a gruesome murder scene, is one of calm and peace. Whatever your plans were they are well and truly dead. There is a realisation here that no amount of thinking, planning, negotiation or intellectual manoeuvring can take things forward from this point.
The 10 of Swords is a card of total defeat, collapsed plans and failure. The element here is Air which relates to challenges, conflicts and the mental aspects of our lives. The storms on the path of life that we must navigate through. The number 10 reduces in numerology to 1 (1+0). The 10 of Swords, like the Ace of Swords, marks the beginning of new challenges, plans, or ideas. The difference between these cards is that the 10 marks the passing of one cycle and the beginning of a new one. An Ace makes no reference to the past only a completely new beginning. The 10 builds something new upon previous cycles, it is an Ace armed with experience. Seeing this card the message maybe to try again using a new approach with the experience of knowing what does not work.
In the Rider Waite Smith (RWS) deck the background scene is one of calm waters symbolising emotional peace and a dark night sky giving way to breaking day light and dawn symbolising a new beginning. If you go back one card in this suit to the 9 Of Swords you'll see a night time scene and someone who can not quieten their mind and sleep from worry and anxiety. In the scene depicted in the 10 of Swords night is ending, a new day is beginning and the mental fever has broken and passed. As dramatic and unpleasant as this card first appears it also has the positive, comforting, message that the worst is over. Remember that this card, and the Suit of Swords, deals with the mental and intellectual aspects of life therefore its dramatic depiction of a man impaled with ten swords does not refer to anything physical only to something abstract. Even though the imagery of this card would seem to imply Death this is not the case because the 10 is cyclic. You have no choice but to accept defeat, put whatever it was behind you and move on to a new day and new challenges.
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THE PICTORIAL KEY TO THE TAROT
By Arthur Edward Waite (1911)
A prostrate figure, pierced by all the swords belonging to the card. Divinatory Meanings: Whatsoever is intimated by the design; also pain, affliction, tears, sadness, desolation. It is not especially a card of violent death. Reversed: Advantage, profit, success, favour, but none of these are permanent; also power and authority.