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Ten of Swords
Tarot Card Meaning

Ten of Swords. (Aquarian deck published by US Games) Ten of Swords. (Morgan-Greer deck published by US Games) Ten of Swords. (Universal Waite deck published by US Games)





Some Keywords "Sticking Out" from the Ten of Swords Tarot Card Meaning:

  • Defeat
  • Release
  • Division
  • Renewal
  • Surrender
  • Liberation
  • Integration
  • Realization
  • Consequence

We have seen the momentum building up to this card. From start to finish, the story line of the suit of swords tells a tale of struggle with the mind in every twist of the plot. The dénouement lands quietly in the ten of swords, illustrating the culmination of perennial philosophical conflict:

  • Nature vs. man
  • Life vs. death
  • Mind vs. divine will

But suppose we approached these age-old touchstones as balancing points rather than conflicts. Perhaps there is no "versus" but only a fulcrum - a point of center balance between two polarities.

How does this relate to the ten of swords Tarot card meaning? I invite you to overlook for a moment the gruesome scene in the foreground (tough, I know...the image is designed to elicit shock).

Refocus your eyes to engage in the background of the card - particularly the Rider-Waite version (shown far right in the card trio above). In the background, there is perfect division of natural order. Perfect strata of elemental order from bottom to top: Earth, Water, Fire, Air layered upon themselves to perform a composition of transcendental unity.

I find it fascinating our impaled figure is facing this divine strata. It is as if, in his final moments, he is met with epiphany, awakening to the secrets of an inclusive universe.

He releases himself from "battle mode," surrendering the concept of conflict and struggle altogether. And, in those dawning moments of liberation from self-inflicted bondage, our hero slips into the universal strata depicted in the card foreground, immersing into energetic interconnectedness (see the symbolic meanings below, where I discuss all 5 elemental strata illustrated in the card foreground).

It is the constricting mentality of "Me vs. Everything Else" that got our fellow in the ten of swords nailed down in the first place. As we've explored in preceding sword cards, it is a mind unchecked that leads us down the path of destruction. A mind that holds allegiance with lack, fear, and other conflict-driven thoughts will always, always manifest a scene like the one we see in this card.

That is why the foreground is pivotal for our psychic eyes to see in a reading. It indicates that nature and her lessons are still available to us on all levels. Even after the passing of physical life we re-integrate into her energetic folds of inclusion, and perfect balance.

So, when the stark shock of the ten of swords assaults your readings, don't panic. Simply know its presence is a result of conflict-focused thinking. And, a shift can be made by converting those fear-driven thoughts. No more "vs.," no more noise, no more exclusion. Just one-ness.

The mind is not our master. If it were, we'd all be walking around like our pin-cushion friend in the ten of swords card. Rather, the Divine within is our master; the mind, our obedient servant. When this concept consumes us, we melt into one-ness within the divine order of nature.

Some elemental symbolism enhancing the ten of swords Tarot card meaning:

click for a larger view of all cards with the Mountain symbol

Mountains: Seen on many of the cards, mountain symbol meanings deal with triumph, challenge, attainment, and realization. Mountains also represent timelessness and an endurance that is infinite. When those mountains peak out of the cards into our attention, we may consider the vastness of our universe, and contemplate our place within it. We may also want to consider the heights to which we are climbing, and what the realization of our goals may mean for us and those around us. See more mountains in the Tarot here.



click for a larger view of all cards with the Ocean symbol

Ocean: Ocean symbol meanings deal with infinite possibilities. Consider the ocean, and you will be considering the essence of vastness, mystery, and depth. It seems inexhaustible and the holder of wonderous things unseen. When the oceans in the cards crash their waves against our consciousness, it is time to pay homage to the great divine - meaning we should recognize the burgeoning power around us, the animating force that runs through us - the expansive and expressive nature of the universe. In other words, we must acknowledge that there may be other (higher) powers at work in our lives and it may be time to release our control in order to allow these powers to open up incredible opportunities to us. View oceans in other cards here.


click for a larger view of all cards with the Fire symbol

Fire: Fire is represented in the ten of swords as the bright yellow sun-lit sky in the foreground (Rider-Waite). It is a symbol of both creative and destructive power. Among its many cultural symbol meanings are: energy, transformation, passion, ambition, inspiration and power. In many faiths fire is a symbol representing a test of faith or the measure of one's purity.




earth symbol meanings in the ten of swords

Earth: On some level, all threads of life are first woven with the fiber of Earth. This interconnectedness reminds us not only is the earth a stabilizing and a wholly physical symbol, it also represents a network. Earth is synonymous with belonging. She represents community and shared wisdom. Earth is the embodiment of the concept of home. In the ten of swords, we've released the "small mind" and returned to the holy lands of our true nature.




the color black symbolism in the ten of swords Tarot card meaning

Black: Logic tells us the presence of black indicates the absence of light. We may be in the dark as to our true understanding of a situation. Or, maybe we don't want to see the light at all, preferring anonymity with ourselves and those around us. Contrarily, black can also provide a theater of expression. With no distraction, complete surrender to the abyss is our only option. Which is the case in your reading? Check out more on Tarot color symbolism here.




Some questions the ten of swords asks us in a reading:

  • What is the risk of surrendering to my true nature?
  • What thoughts and beliefs have brought me to this point in my life?
  • Can I trust that the universe is perfect in all its ways and functions?
  • What do the terms ?integration? and ?interconnectedness? mean to me?
  • Who runs the show? My mind or my divine will?
  • What do I enjoy about being pinned down by limited thinking?
  • How do I feel about personal responsibility?
  • Who or what is responsible for my thoughts? My perceptions? My life outcomes?
  • If there are always two sides to the coin, wouldn't I always be able to find a solution to every situation?

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