Ten of Swords Meaning: Upright and Reversed

General Overview: Ten of Swords

The swords is a tricky suit as it is, but the Ten of Swords? Well, this is a card that often causes the hair on the back of my neck to rise in alarm. Okay, that is a bit dramatic- but it paints a picture of what this card can typically inspire in even the calmest of people. The Ten of Swords is not necessarily a “bad” card to receive in a Tarot reading. In fact; there is no good or bad card to receive because it all depends on your perspective. That being said, the Ten of Swords is definitely a card that brings a message that you might not necessarily be willing to hear. But it is those hard-to-digest messages that sometimes bring the best lessons and the best insight. You know that a diamond is not beautiful when it first pops out of the mine- it needs to go through a complex, highly pressurized process before it can be as beautiful as we see it in the jewelry store windows. This is a similar message that the Ten of Swords brings us. And sometimes, we need to hear the hard things so that we can stop ourselves from going down a rocky road. Other times, we are already traversing down a slippery slope, and a card like the Ten of Swords is precisely what we need to carry us back to the right path. 

Ten of Swords: The Story

The suit of swords’ story is a powerful allegory for life and for self-development. The swords can represent the intellect and thus the ability to plan and structure one’s life. Yet, with planning and knowledge comes failure, in this case, the Ten of Swords, which represents the ultimate defeat in life through frustration and incompetence. Even though we have the ability to plan to succeed, we may doubt ourselves, fear failure, and ultimately be defeated by our own ambitions. 

The story of the swords is not a new one, and yet it speaks of all of us. The intellect is a powerful weapon to have, and yet the Ten of Swords can still rip it from us, leaving us wholly defeated by life. 

Ten of Swords: Symbolism

According to Western symbology, Swords are the suit of rational thinking. And yet, all things must come to an end, and so it is with a positive frame of mind that we look upon this final card in the suit of Swords, in which the figure is totally prostrated, defeated, and resigned to his impending death.

This deck is filled with hope, but at the end of the tale, it breaks your heart. Trust me when I say that the journey is much more important than the destination. The last card might be a bit hard to take for all of us. The story of the suit of swords is a powerful metaphor for putting too much emphasis on logic and intellect, with painful results.

Ten of Swords: Interpretation and Message

The story told by the progression of the cards from the ace to the ten is one in which a young person wields a weapon of immense power – and makes many mistakes, but then spends the rest of his life trying to run away from this power. 

Another way to interpret it is this: The story of the Ten of Swords is one of a sword’s potential for destruction or good, depending on how the weapon is used. An inexperienced, untrained individual misuses the sword to commit an act of violence. He spends his entire life fleeing from the power he unleashed.

The message to take away from this is: A person can use the sword for good or evil; it is all a matter of choice.

Whatever your situation, the Ten of Swords can help- but only if you are willing to dig deep, face the shadows, and do what needs to be done. Does that sound a bit vague? Of course, it does- but only you know how that can relate to you. And remember–usually, the first things and intuitive feelings that pop up as you read this interpretation are the most truthful. So, don’t overthink anything- and start reading. Let’s get to it then. To kick things off, we will start decoding the imagery. 

Imagery Description: Ten of Swords

The Ten of Swords shows a man, his back pierced by ten swords, fallen to the ground. We can understand it as showing us the results of a powerful weapon that hasn’t been used correctly. 

The Ten of Swords tarot card shows a man lying flat on the ground with his face facing the dirt. A red piece of material is covering his still body. Like his body, the water in the background is eerily still. He may not have seen this betrayal coming, as evidenced by the black sky above him. As we all know, a dark and grey sky can represent feelings of fear, which is perfectly apt for this card. Yet despite the darkness and the ominous feeling of this card, the sun is rising over the horizon, and the weather seems calm and still. This man has been through so much, yet a new day is dawning for him or his soul.

He had spent a lifetime carrying the burden of guilt for mistakes made when he misused this powerful weapon as an untrained youth. As he lies dying, there is nothing left for him to do but to acknowledge the power he misused and, in doing so, to accept responsibility for his actions and to forgive himself.

These ten swords represent betrayal, loss, and trauma. At this point in the reading, I interpret it as a sign of grief and despair. The sky is dark around this card because grief is associated with the concept of death and the inability to overcome your past.

The Ten of Swords is often interpreted as a tale of bad fortune, but it is best to appreciate the symbolism involved. Here, the ten of swords illustrates how an untrained person improperly uses power and how that power can run wild as a result. The Ten of Swords, with its vision of a fallen warrior impaled by ten swords, symbolizes a person who has been wounded in battle. In the story told by the cards around it, this figure has failed to use his weapons properly and has suffered dramatically as a result. The Ten of Swords warns us that the sword can destroy and defend, and we must train ourselves to use it responsibly.

Since the swords represent intellect, we can also look at it as a man (or woman) entirely overwhelmed by his thoughts, feelings, and reactions. He has misinterpreted events, responding with violence and aggression towards others. Whatever the mistake, the consequences are clearly depicted in this ominous card. 

Upright Keywords: Ten of Swords

Failure, exhaustion, depletion, betrayal, backstabbing, victim, dead-end, bitterness, enemies lurking, gossip, being used, unable to cope, endings and goodbyes, rock bottom, exaggeration, melodramatic, mental breakdown

Upright Ten of Swords Meaning

Not all news that is delivered by the Ten of Swords is terrible; it could simply mean that when this card appears, you need to be careful about backstabbing, betrayal, and perhaps having to deal with badmouthing. However, it is one of the more ominous cards in the tarot deck- especially amongst the minor arcana. but, if you know anything about the suit of swords, it is something I have come to expect about this suit. 

Historically, the Ten of Swords has been seen as a card indicating absolute failure, ruin, and severing ties.

This card can symbolize burnout, chronic fatigue, exhaustion, and inability to cope. It can also represent a low point in your life, hitting rock bottom, hitting a wall or a dead-end situation.

On a more dramatic side of the coin, The Ten of Swords can signal an attack or curse, or it can simply imply a drama queen.

The Ten of Swords can indicate an overly dramatic, attention-seeking attitude or exaggerated emotions. This card can often indicate that someone is being melodramatic or creating a big deal out of small things.

Ten of Swords: The Major Disaster

Your life is about to be turned upside down in a way you never expected. You’re about to experience a terrible betrayal that was utterly out of your control. In the Ten of Swords, a challenging situation seems to be unavoidable. What’s more, this problematic turn of events is as much due to fate as it is to betrayal by a friend or loved one. This card shows that we can plan and prepare for many things, but there are some events in life that you cannot avoid. The Ten of Swords indicates a situation in which a drastic force is overtaking your life. You might not have seen it coming, and you may have done all that you could do to avoid it, but you may have no choice but to accept it anyway. Surrender is the best alternative.

The ten of swords indicates a time when you have tried desperately to get things right but to no avail. The surrounding circumstances are so hopeless as to put you in despair, and without hope, there is nothing left but complete resignation. There is also a feeling here that you may have made some bad decisions along the way, or perhaps you allowed other people to make decisions for you. Maybe you gave up before making a last-ditch effort to save yourself from yourself. There’s a belief here, though, that even if your past was filled with failure, this does not need to be your future as well. Allowing someone else to take responsibility for your choices has allowed this situation to continue. It has worsened it, but now you can finally let go with the acceptance of what has happened and what will happen next.

When you face the Ten of Swords, you may feel that no one is there for you. Remember that the end of a situation also means a new beginning. Give up your attachment to what you have lost, and focus on the new path ahead. It means a lot of personal growth.

Upright Ten of Swords in a Love Reading 

The Ten of Swords can indicate a difficult time in a current relationship in a love reading. It may have been destined to fail, and you’ve seen this coming. Sometimes, it can also symbolize infidelity or betrayal. While you may be going through something difficult right now, you’ll come out on the other side and will heal with acceptance. No matter how bad it may seem now, there is a bright future ahead.

Upright Ten of Swords in a Career Reading

In the worst case, you are facing the end of a job and cutting ties with your current employment situation. You may be at a point in your career where you are near to completing a long project; whether you are happy with the results or not is up to you. You may also have problems with gossip in your workplace or feel that colleagues have been working against you. This may be difficult to deal with, but know that you will go on to better things. You may also have been forced to take a break because you were overworking. This may also indicate a setback in your career; when you go forward and heal from this ordeal, remember to reflect on what you have learned so that you can grow.

Upright Ten of Swords in a Financial Reading

Your finances may be in a bad way. You may have wrapped your finances up in an investment that is not working out, and you may be suffering losses as a result. Cut all expenses related to this problematic venture, and instead, be wary of your financial situation. 

Now is not a good time to take chances in business or investments. You should avoid risky pursuits if you want to succeed financially.

Ten of Swords Reversed

Reversed Ten of Swords Keywords

Healing, improvement, learning lessons/learning from mistakes, survival, alternatively: relapse and despair/giving up.

Ten of Swords Reversed Meaning

When we see the Ten of Swords, we feel the pain of defeat. The card can be reversed or upright, but regardless of its position, it tells us that it may be difficult to stop this tragedy, as it has developed over time, and the events that led to it have been a long time in the making.

Although you cannot avoid this tragedy, you can face it and deal with it.

When the Ten of Swords is reversed, it means there is no more than anyone can take from you. You have reached a point of absolute surrender. But with this reversal also comes a recognition that you have reached rock bottom, and things can only get better from there. With that also comes a release from your pain, but it is up to you to initiate this change. 

There is an opportunity here that will lead to healing, but it is up to you to make an effort to take advantage of it. It would be best if you corrected what has hurt you and acknowledged your failures as well as the failures of others. There is a chance to right a wrong, but you must be willing to put forth the effort. Do not think the responsibility lies with others. Everyone has some part in this. In this situation, the responsibility for correcting what is wrong rests with you. It would help if you made an effort to correct that which has hurt you. 

The dark parts of this situation are calling you out on your own responsibilities for what is happening. You alone are able to take the initiative to change. You can heal the past wounds as long as you choose to get out of bed and start on the process. You are not alone in this, but there are things you must do on your own. Now is the time to put aside your own pain and actively create a better future.

Ten of Swords Reversed in a Love Reading

Love’s cruelty may have left you scarred, but this tarot card meaning informs you that you are on the road to healing. If you are in a relationship, you and your partner may be closer than ever. The wounds that caused tension between the two of you seem like nothing but distant memories now. 

Sometimes, when the Ten of Swords is reversed in a love reading, the relationship may have already collapsed, or you may have left the other person. You’ve worked through the anger and despair and recognized that you’ve learned some critical lessons from this heartbreak. That will give you an opportunity to strengthen your emotional muscles for next time.

You have reached a point where you can begin to see your past stresses being replaced with a kind of healing. A job may be ending, but you can come out of that experience with renewed strength and a greater appreciation for what you have. 

However, this card instead suggests that this stressful time is getting worse and that you are on the verge of collapse unless you do something to distance yourself from it. You’ll need to weigh whether your mental health is worth the amount of suffering you are going through.

In readings about careers, this card can indicate that a stressful situation is getting more serious—perhaps as a result of work-related problems. It would be best if you weighed whether it’s worth putting up with all the misery you’re experiencing.

Reversed Ten of Swords in a Financial Reading

You may have narrowly avoided a financial catastrophe, like bankruptcy or even a costly divorce. You may be recovering and rebuilding your life. You may have recently emerged from a state of bankruptcy or divorce, finally getting on secure financial ground.

Perhaps you feel you are about to lose your fortune, but you will quickly regain your financial stability if you acknowledge your mistakes and rectify your path. 

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Is the Ten of Swords a Yes or No Card?

Answer: The Ten of Swords is a no card. 
The Ten of Swords is the last card in this suit. It represents an end to a situation in which you have been betrayed in some way. It can also represent a downfall or the inability to cope with life’s circumstances.

Question: What do Swords Represent in the Tarot?

Answer: The suit of Swords in the Tarot represents intelligence, strategic thinking, and masculinity. However, this suit also represents sorrow and misfortune. Air has been associated with the suit of swords in cartomancy.

Question: What Does it Mean When You Get a Ten of Swords in a Tarot Reading?

Answer: When you see that many of the cards in a reading are from the suit of Swords, it can mean that you are seeking answers to crucial problems and are experiencing difficulties making decisions.
When you see a great deal of Swords in a tarot reading, it may indicate that you, or the questioner, is wrestling with a dilemma that involves trying to find some internal or external balance in life. An abundance of Swords in your reading may indicate that you’re struggling to find a balance between some opposing circumstances or issues.

Question: Why Do I Keep Getting the Ten of Swords?

Answer: The Ten of Swords indicates deceit and betrayal stemming from an individual’s actions. But when this card comes up repeatedly, it often means that you need to let go of the anger that you are holding onto about the situation and accept what has happened.

Conclusion: The message, and what we can learn from the Ten of Swords

Ten of Swords often shows up in tarot readings when the questioner is facing a dire situation in life. Ten Swords often signifies an all is lost situation, leading to despair and hopelessness, which can be daunting to look at. However, swords are inherently masculine in nature, and the questioner may harness this card’s energy to move forward with courage. The Ten of Swords represents the fight for freedom from darkness, apathy, and depression. Although the scene is visually dark and even scary looking, the Ten of Swords is not meant to scare or overwhelm the questioner with sympathy for the questioner’s situation. Instead, it is there to tell them that although times may seem bleak now, all good things come to those who wait.

You likely feel like a victim of your own circumstances. You’ve found yourself facing limitation after limitation, and you don’t know how to stop the cycle. You know that you need to make some big decisions on what to do, but somehow it all feels too hard, so you keep hoping that someone or something will rescue you. But that’s not going to happen. The only person who can sort things out for you is you. Sometimes it’s hard to keep yourself from making mistakes when you’re overtired or occupied with too much on your mind. You have to take care of yourself by listening to your inner voice and having a plan for how you want to deal with situations that are out of your control.

It can be hard to know when your inner voice is trying to warn you of impending danger. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to pay attention when you’re feeling off and then ask yourself what it is you’re thinking and feeling at that moment. It’s essential to be aware of your own thoughts and feelings, especially when you are dealing with challenging situations. They become your reality. The Ten of Swords tells you to let go of your past, even painful memories, and focus on a new path forward.

Read the true meaning of more tarot cards below:

Ten of Pentacles Meaning: Upright and Reversed

Ten of Cups Meaning: Upright and Reversed

Ten of Wands Meaning: Upright and Reversed

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