Ten of Swords Tarot Card Meanings

What does the Ten of Swords card mean in a Tarot Reading?

Ten of Swords Tarot is one of the most negative cards in the deck. It can only be compared with the Tower. This is a card of great destruction, pain, end.
Among the cards there are those that warn of troubles that can be avoided if this is desired. The minor Arcana Tarot card Ten of Swords warns of the blow of Fate, which cannot be avoided.
This card symbolizes despair, a situation where everything goes worse than ever, and enlightenment seems that will never come. However, the meaning of the card is rather optimistic: this is the tenth, last card of a row of swords, after which a new suit begins, a new period of life. Now it is useless to get upset. You can’t fix anything in the past, wouldn’t it be better to rest and gather strength for a new job?

Goal: The final, deliberate separation from something or someone.
Element: Air
Planet: Saturn, Mars
Astrological sign: Gemini

Depiction

A dead man lies on the ground, pierced in the back with ten swords. The dark and gloomy sky above enhances the feeling of tragedy, but it is already dawning beyond the river. A new day is approaching. The fingers of the dead man’s right hand touch in a ritual gesture that implies completeness.
(For a detailed depiction, analysis of the Symbols and all Elements of the Ten of Swords Tarot Card, click here)

The Main Meanings of the Card In an Upright Position

Key Words and Phrases

Life collapse. Failure. Defeat. A decisive turning point. Forced change. Emotional break. A life-changing decision. The collapse of the enterprise. Ending sadness. Death of illusions. Constant threat of stalemate. The gap. Pain. Time to let go. Theft.

Ten of Swords Tarot Card Meanings

Negative thinking. Stress. Misfortune. A loss. Devastation. Bankruptcy. Robbery. Split. Rolling down to the bottom of the pit. Disaster. Serious illness. Deadly confrontation. Dangerous situation. Crash. Divorce. Parting. Difficulties. Risk. Crushing blow. Failure with a bang. Travel (possibly by water). Surgery. The need for injections. Medical examination. The only way out is up. Until a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it will not germinate.

The main meanings of the card in an upright position

despair (it couldn’t get worse);
huge loss;
death of some part of you (or some trait of your character, habit, look);
the end of a life stage;
artificial, violent end (“not in due time”);
a bitter moment of parting with someone or something;
transfer to another job, dismissal, refusal from occupation;
“Drawing the line”;
the mind can destroy relationships, suppression of feelings;
at the bottom;
crying, tears, sobbing, grief, sadness, suffering;
unexpected trouble, failed plans, ruin;
disaster, devastation, unfulfilled plans, failure through no fault of their own;
betrayal;
failure in business and plans, major troubles;
large monetary losses;
disappointment, sorrow for what was lost.

Ten of Swords. Witchcraft Tarot by Ellen Dugan
Witchcraft Tarot by Ellen Dugan

Situation and Advice

You have sunk to the very bottom. Your plans don’t work. You have bottomed out. The situation or the development of the relationship is approaching an inevitable end, and perhaps in this regard, you are on the verge of depression. You have done everything in your power, and now you need to either end the situation or come to terms with the inevitable. The process of completion is accompanied by a sense of loss and deep sadness. You may be feeling emotionally isolated. Change is imposed on you, and you are unable to resist. The loss can be attributed to a legal process, a career, a serious illness, or breaking up with someone who means a lot to you. It may happen that your depression requires professional medical attention.

Persons designated by Upright Ten of Swords Tarot Сard

Sank to the bottom. Bereaved people. People who are in danger.

The Main Meanings of the Card In a Reversed Position

Key Words and Phrases

Positive values
Change for the better. Improvement. Reducing problems. Completion of the cycle and new beginnings. The darkness dissipates. The calamitous situation is left behind. The power of prayer. Help from other people. Seeking help from higher powers. Return from “death”. Getting rid of threats to life or health. Light at the end of the tunnel. The news of someone’s death or of a person who is about to die. Obituary. The worst is over. Even the blackest cloud has a silver edge.

Negative values
Drastic changes. Constantly emerging problems. A very serious illness. Return of past difficulties. The gap. Death. The worst is yet to come.

The main meanings of the card in a reversed position

there will still be sorrows, but the last ones;
improving health;
great personal success, prosperity;
authority, power;
profit, success;
even more problems than in an upright position;
fleeting success;
benefit, gain;
mercy, favor, good deed;
influence, power, capture;
advantage, difficulties come to naught;
the difficult period is over;
increasing wealth;
implementation of the plan.

Situation and Advice

You may receive news of a death or serious illness. Prayer or appeal to a higher power will help ease your pain. You come to your senses after a period of confusion, pain and sadness. The worst is over, and your problems will gradually begin to be solved.

Ten of Swords. Mirage Valley Tarot by Barbara Moore
Mirage Valley Tarot by Barbara Moore

Recent pain can teach you a valuable lesson. Improvement lies ahead. You or someone close to you will experience a risk situation.

Persons designated by the Reversed Ten of Swords Tarot Сard

Those who survived. People who suffered for a long time. Those whose lives were in danger. People who returned from “death”.

In the Spreads

The general meaning of the card is in destruction, the inevitability of some negative events, severe pain and experiences. Moreover, this is not a natural expected process, but rather a sudden and violent change in circumstances for the worse.
The value of 10 of Swords depends very much on the position of the card in the spread. If the upright card is the most negative omen, then a reversed one, on the contrary, symbolizes the hope that destructive events either will not occur or will not have a critical outcome.
Like the Death card, the Ten of Swords represents completion, the end of something, delimitation. The difference lies in the fact that Death means natural, and the Ten of Swords means an artificial, sometimes violent end, that is coming “at the wrong time”. And, although such an end is often accompanied by difficult, painful experiences, this is not necessarily the case: so many swords symbolize the mighty power of the mind, which decided to “draw the line” under something. These could be important, enriching experiences, but there could also be unpleasant situations, bad habits, or a difficult, unfavorable period in life. Either way, this is a bitter moment of parting with someone or something. How we feel about tragic loss or relief, as after a surgical operation, can only be determined by context. In the same way, only the rest of the cards will tell us about whether such intervention was necessary or not, whether it was timely or not.

In an Upright Position

The upright position of the card, as already mentioned, indicates that everything is bad and there is no way out. This is the end of something important, painful breakups, losses, etc.
Of the entire Tarot deck, the Ten of Swords card causes the most fear. It signifies disaster and ruin, bringing suffering and hopeless despair. The querent expects a complete failure of his plans or enterprises, probably due to the treacherous actions of enemies. The only consolation in such a situation is that the solution to the problem is somewhere close, and the querent will be able to get back on his feet again.
Ten of Swords tells that tears, pain and sorrow, misfortune, grief and devastation await the questioner. Downfall and failure. Insecure relationships with friends. Prepare for the fact that your plans will end in failure. Everything is lost.
The Ten of Swords in an upright position personifies the end, the end of something, the time of hopeless losses, the collapse of hopes, an artificial and sometimes violent end, one that does not come at the right time. In any case, this Arcana means personal defeat, failure, ruin. Most likely, the person has already reached the very bottom, reached the end of the path, found himself in an intellectual impasse. Perhaps someone stabbed him in the back when he didn’t expect it. However, at the same time, this card is open to change and new opportunities. A person stops fighting, accepts the inevitable and entrusts himself to fate or circumstances. The old ideas and thought patterns no longer work and are no longer useful. It may seem like a complete disaster, but in fact, an upright Ten of Swords also means liberation, relief and the end of negative processes.
The Ten of Swords Tarot shows that you will be completely devastated and destroyed. In the worst case, it means an increase in troubles, which the neighboring cards will tell about. In the best possible outcome, it is the reversal of luck. In any case, the plans will not come true or will come true in the worst way for you, all the improvements will not last long. As a result, even your personality may suffer. After such life disasters, people often lose confidence in themselves and their capabilities.
If things went well before this, then this Arcana promises you hard times. If everything was impossibly bad, the end of the black strike is near, with which you have almost become akin. In this sense the Ten of Swords is similar to the Death card. It can become a sign of the end of difficult days, completion, separation, destruction of something. But Death is the action of the forces of nature, part of the process and its natural ending. With the Ten of Swords, a violent, untimely end comes. Someone or something invades your life and, like a blade, cuts off the chain of events.
Yes, this kind of change often leaves deep wounds, but not always. Perhaps the severing blade is the unbreakable Power of the Mind, which will cut the bonds that hold you down? After all, often old attachments, habits (including bad ones) or life circumstances do not allow you to move on.
In any case, get ready for parting. Whether they are painful and sad or bring joy of relief – it depends on you, not only on the circumstances. Think, perhaps, with the help of Swords, like with a scalpel, you get rid of some kind of “cancerous tumor”?
A harsh response, an unexpected revelation, direct and decisive action. The events will be as “brutal” and coldly impassive as the already mentioned surgical instrument. You decide if it’s worth it to be afraid.

In a Reversed Position:

In a reversed position, the Ten of Swords speaks of the same thing as an upright card, but exacerbates the situation with a long period of painful thought and uncertainty. Sometimes Arcana talks about the lack of results and the impossibility of further progress towards the goal. Moreover, an challenge may lie not only in an obstacle, but also in success.
It points out that destruction and end can be avoided, or that the worst is over and there is hope to get out of the tragic situation with minimal losses.
The reversed Tarot card Ten of Swords has several meanings, some of which are directly opposite to others. A reversed 10 of swords means victory, success, achievement of the desired. Another option implies even bigger problems for a reversed position than for an upright one, a complete collapse of everything. You can choose for yourself the third option: possible improvements, but only transient and fleeting. The benefit or success will not be permanent.

In the Spreads for Different situation

In an Upright Position:
If it falls out in a question for a situation, it is better not to do anything and prepare for a negative scenario. Ten of Swords symbolizes failure, loss, destruction and pain.

Ten of Swords. Legacy of the Divine Tarot by Ciro Marchetti
Legacy of the Divine Tarot by Ciro Marchetti

In a Reversed Position:
Now it is better not to risk it and wait for a more favorable period. The most difficult events have already happened or are about to happen, but they will not have critical consequences.

In the Spreads for Relationship

In an Upright Position:
In the sphere of personal relationships, the upright Ten of Swords turns into its most dangerous, crisis side. The card indicates a very strong quarrel (sometimes with the use of physical violence), a scandal, a break in relations, mutual hatred or hatred of one partner for another. Heavy worries about an ended relationship are so strong that for a long time nothing new can arise, you need to wait for the wound to heal.
Almost always means a break and parting, and not temporary, but final. It will be painful and most likely sudden, bringing a lot of tears and suffering to one or both partners.

In a Reversed Position:
The meaning of reversed Ten of Swords in love and relationships is also a break, but most often temporary. Or only the threat of separation, when one partner threatens the other with leaving or divorce. In these circumstances, there is still a chance to change something.
The reversed Ten of Swords in the field of relationships signals that liberation and exciting change are coming. Relationship difficulties are behind, ahead is renewal of relationships or new acquaintances. However, the person has not yet completely got rid of the consequences of the experience and still feels as if he miraculously escaped imminent death or serious disaster.

In the Spreads for Dates

In an Upright Position:
The card shows some kind of separation or disconnection, but it is necessary in order to form a more perfect relationship.
In a Reversed Position:
Apparently, you were making progress, but were recently pushed back to their original positions, and now your ego is trying to recover from the trauma. Do not worry, soon you will be confident again.

In the Spreads for Family

In an Upright Position:
It’s not as bad as you might think.
In a Reversed Position:
In the face of difficulties, do not lose confidence in yourself. Seek support from friends or teachers if needed.

In the Spreads for Friendship

In an Upright Position:
One crisis after another befalls your friends. It is you who always save the day and help them get out of difficulties. You are appreciated.
In a Reversed Position:
Relationships with friends fall apart. There may be tears, fury, grief, longing and unhappiness. But this is transient. Everything will be solved.

In the Spreads for Money

In an Upright Position:
Ten of Swords for money matters means a financial crisis, sudden big spending, bankruptcy. Now it is better not to carry out any important transactions with money.
In a Reversed Position:
There is a crisis in income, but a temporary one. There is a chance to normalize the situation. Monetary losses and sudden expenses are possible.
Beware of people who encourage you to spend other people’s money.

In the Spreads for Education

In an Upright Position:
Things are not as bad as they seem. Your situation will soon improve if you try.
In a Reversed Position:
You are thrown off balance by too small events, such as losing your pencil case or, say, forgetting to put on your watch. If you want to be taken seriously, put things in perspective.

In the Spreads for Career

In an Upright Position:
In the field of work, this card predicts dangerous events, risky ventures that are likely to fail, loss of position or authority. Bad time to start new projects or collaborations. In practice, this is, most often, care and transition to a new occupation. Less commonly: small changes, for example, a transfer to another job within the same firm or a sudden cancellation of a previous assignment. Extremely negative course and business development, significant losses, bankruptcy, collapse, force majeure.

Ten of Swords. Tarot by Alphonse Mucha
Tarot by Alphonse Mucha

In a Reversed Position:
As in other spheres, in the field of career and work, the Reversed Ten of Swords does not lose its negative meaning and symbolizes unpleasant and depressing events, loss of control over the situation, irrevocably lost business. In some cases, Arcana can also mean such a terrible test as a test of power, honor, popularity, transitory success.
Reversed Arcana means a high risk of failure, loss of job or authority, collapse of projects. However, these events can be prevented, or they will not have as devastating consequences as with an upright card.

In the Spreads for Health

In an Upright Position:
This is an extremely bad card in matters of health. It points to serious, sometimes fatal diseases, serious injuries, traumas. You should be as careful as possible if you draw this Arcana.
In a Reversed Position:
In the field of health, a reversed Ten of Swords indicates that there was a risk of death or serious injury, however, most likely it is already behind.

Answer to Yes / No Tarot Spreads

In an Upright Position:
No
In a Reversed Position:
Yes

Self-Development Lesson

The ending is also the beginning. This is the completion of one chapter of your life and the beginning of a new one. Before moving on, you must give up some of your old-fashioned, outdated views.

Type of person in an upright position:

The card means a smart, strong, fearless person. Maximalist, recognizes only “all or nothing”. Knows how to make difficult decisions, draw a line under situations and relationships, without fear of consequences. Ready to take risks, even deadly ones.

Type of person in a reversed position:

Ten of Swords. The Tarot of the 78 Doors
The Tarot of the 78 Doors

It means a person of shrewd, intelligent, domineering, but also thoughtful, cunning. He takes risks with an eye on the consequences, but in order to achieve what he wants, he does not hesitate to resort to all sorts of intrigues. Snobbery is inherent in him, often he simply does not have enough patience in dealing with people below his intellectual level.

Arcana’s warning

Don’t get discouraged. Even the most destructive situations cannot last forever.

Final Advice of Arcana

Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Try to get the most out of everything that happens. Treat difficult events like a test.

In an Upright Position:
Act as quickly as possible. Breaking up a relationship that has become torture.
In a Reversed Position:
Not clinging to what slips out of your hands means you don’t need it.

Conclusion

A series of events that began in triumph and now end in grief. The Tarot’s Ten of Swords predicts sorrow, tears and grief either now or in the near future. It is not necessarily a death card (like the Nine), but a card of pain, failure and devastation. At best, the card cancels luck, at worst, it exacerbates the failures that other unfavorable cards predicted.
Even friendships or other close relationships will be temporary or not enough to help you get over your failed plans. Any improvements will be fleeting. Even worse, a disastrous end can permanently erode your self-confidence. You must work hard to prevent what is threatening you.

Florals

Discover other Minor Arcana:

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