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Ten of Swords Meaning - Tarot Card Meanings

By Tina Gong

Published

Ten of Swords Keywords

Upright Keywords Reversed Keywords
ruin, failure, bitterness, collapse, exhaustion, dead end, victimization, betrayal survival, improvement, healing, lessons learned, despair, relapse
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Ten of Swords Meaning - Original Rider Waite Tarot Depiction

Ten of Swords Tarot Card Description

Another one of the most striking and ominous cards in the deck, the Ten of Swords shows a man lying flat on the ground with his face facing the dirt. He is covered with a red cloth from the chest down to his legs. Ten long swords are stabbed into his back, he may not have seen this end coming. There is a terrible stillness in the air: the sky above him is black and cloudy indicating the fear and negativity associated with death. The waters in front of him are still, with no ripples - adding to the eerie stillness and finality of this card. Looking into the horizon, in the east, the sun is rising, and the weather seems very calm despite the darkness. The Ten of Swords seems to intimate that this is the lowest point in one's life, and it cannot get worse than this. At least, even in this state, the sun is rising.

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Upright Ten of Swords Meaning

The Ten of Swords indicate a major disaster of some sort. It shows that a certain force of extreme magnitude has come to hit you in your life - one that you may have not foreseen. There is a sense of betrayal that is indicated here, for the character is stabbed in the back. This seems to be a reminder that despite how much we try, we cannot control everything - there are things that are beyond our ability to change. Here, this situation is unavoidable. 

The tale of the suit of swords is a powerful metaphor, one that ends in tragedy. The swords are a symbol of the intellect, of intelligence and logic, and yet we find the final culmination of this suit a complete and total defeat of the spirit. We must realize that the swords are a weapon that can have immense potential for destruction or for good. The story as it unfolds from the ace to the ten is one where an untrained individual uses this weapon for faulty reasons - makes many mistakes, and then spends an entire lifetime attempting to run away from the power that he misused.

The story as it unfolds from the ace to the ten is one where an untrained individual uses this weapon for faulty reasons - makes many mistakes, and then spends an entire lifetime attempting to run away from the power that he misused.

This person believes the swords are external to him when they are part of him, and when they inevitably return, he once again suffers. His pain is not the pain of his circumstances usually, but the pain of fear, of anxiety, of not being able to be a master of his surroundings. After the hopelessness of the nine of swords, what could have happened? Were you overwhelmed by the pressure? Or did you take the final sword upon yourself and admit defeat?

The Ten of Swords depicts that situation where your mentality is ‘poor me’, you feel like there is nothing you can do. Pause and remember that as with the death card, the end of something means a new beginning. Let go of what you have lost, and focus on the new path forward because that is where your life is meant to go. A good example is a break-up with your partner - though it could be intensely painful, it could also be the beginning of a new sense of independence.

Upright Love Meaning Upright Career Meaning Upright Finances Meaning
breakup, separation, sadness, grief, pain, infidelity loss of job, office politics, breakdown from stress, burnout financial loss, failed investment

Tarot Love Meaning - Upright 10 of Swords

Unfortunately, the 10 of Swords tarot love meaning can indicate a relationship that is coming to its end, or a period of time filled with suffering, bitterness, grief and pain. Likely, the relationship was headed towards failure of some sort, and you may have already seen it coming. Sometimes, this card can also suggest betrayal, indicating infidelity. While this period of time may be incredibly difficult, you’ll need to come to terms with it and accept the inevitable end. Singles may be dealing with similar feelings that have lingered after a past relationship. Only with acceptance, can you truly heal, and move forward. The worst has happened, and despite how it looks, it can only get better from here. 

Career Meaning - Upright 10 of Swords

In the worst case, you may be reaching the end of your current job right now, as the 10 of Swords signifies endings, and cutting one’s connections. Sometimes, this card can also suggest that you may be dealing with office politics that have left you defeated; perhaps colleagues have been spreading gossip. Alternatively, you may instead have been working very hard, pushing yourself to collapse, and forced to take a rest. All of this may have been necessary for you to grow; when you go forward and heal from this ordeal, think of what you have learned, and know that you will survive.

Finances Meaning - Upright 10 of Swords

Your financial situation may be grim. You may have put your money into something that has not yielded fruit, and you may be dealing with losses right now. Ensure that you cut all expenses related to this failing endeavor, and instead be cautious about your resources. Avoiding risk can be beneficial for you now.

Ten of Swords Reversal Meaning

When we see any version of the Ten of Swords , the feelings are powerful. Whether reversed or upright, the card signals the finality of defeat. There is no way to avoid this tragedy - it has happened over a long course of events that have been a long time coming.

With the reversal though, also comes to a recognition that you have hit rock bottom, there is no more that is left for you to give. With that also comes the release that things can only get better and the cycle can start anew. But like with the eight and nine of swords, this release must be initiated by you. There is an opportunity being presented here to correct what has hurt you, but you must make the effort to climb out yourself. What has happened was terrible, but everyone has a part in the responsibility.

Reversed Love Meaning Reversed Career Meaning Reversed Finances Meaning
healing from past, putting relationship back together changed jobs, found less stressful work avoided financial ruin or bankruptcy

Tarot Love Meaning - Reversed 10 of Swords

You may have many scars from past romantic wounds, but the reversed 10 of Swords tarot love meaning can suggest that you may be on your way towards healing. If you are in a relationship, the bonds between you and your lover that seemed permanently severed before may be healing. In other cases, the relationship may have already collapsed, but you have managed to cope. There may still be feelings of anger and despair, but also recognition of the lessons that this heartbreak has taught you. It is likely you’ll be able to recover from this situation with more strength than ever. 

Career Meaning - Reversed 10 of Swords

Your path to healing from past stresses is getting started. You may have changed jobs recently, or left a job that was creating lots of frustration, anger and resentment for you. Whatever had happened, the worst of it is now over. You can breathe a sigh of relief that what is ahead will be easier to deal with. However, this card can instead suggest that this stressful time is getting worse, and that unless you do something to distance yourself from it, you are on the verge of collapse. You’ll need to weigh whether your mental health is worth the amount of suffering you are going through. 

Finances Meaning - Reversed 10 of Swords

You may have been on the brink of financial failure, but you may have been able to narrowly miss it. You can also be recovering from a loss of resources, like bankruptcy or a divorce, and you may finally be getting on stable foundations again.

Ten of Swords Tarot Cheat Sheet

Ten of Swords Meaning - Tarot Card Meanings Cheat Sheet. Art from Golden Thread Tarot.



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