Ten of Swords
The ten of swords is one of the most pessimistic cards of the minor arcana. This is rock bottom. This card almost never indicates a positive thing. However, it can indicate that the worst has already happened, because this is what it means: the worst possible thing has happened. It can’t get any worse.
The darkness is setting in and the yellow sunlight is disappearing. Yellow is the color of intellect, and black is the color of seriousness and despair. Either the sun is setting and the time to think is disappearing, or there is an eclipse, and the moon is covering the sun, creating artificial night. In the distance are mountains, symbolizing stability, and water, symbolizing emotions. Both are still.
A man lays on barren land with ten swords in his back. He’s dead and bleeding out. Perhaps he’s been dead for a while; perhaps he was just killed. There’s no one else around. However, his visible hand has the index finger and middle finger out, as if giving a benediction. Somehow, things will be okay, even though it clearly doesn’t look like it.
The man wears a red cloak, the color of passion. He’s wearing a yellow tunic, the color of intellect, and white, the color of purity. The red cloak covers his lower half, but the swords go through his entire body. Even if he were alive, chances are that he couldn’t get up. This is the end, and there’s nothing that can be done.
The Ten of Swords is an absolute, tragic end, the end of an era, the absolute succumbing to the powers that be. There is nothing more that can be done. No reasoning. No arguing. No debating. No bargaining. There is no way out. The only thing that can be done is to stop trying. This is the letting go of reason and intellect. There is only so much thinking and talking that can be done, and by the looks of the man on the card, sometimes, one can talk and think there way into tragedy.
The Ten of Swords is about coming to terrible ends even when one thought it through and seemed to do everything right. In the end, the power of reason and intellect wasn’t enough to save the day, and the querent has to abandon it and try something new. After all, they couldn’t create something worse, right?
When the Ten of Swords is Reversed:
When the Ten of Swords is reversed, the querent is refusing to recover from rock bottom. They’re spinning their wheels trying to rationalize it, solve the problem, or fix things instead of moving on and moving up. The querent may also be too focused on the tragedy or failure and not thinking about what’s next. They have the option of moving on, which is the only option, but they won’t take it. They’d rather wallow and go over painful thoughts and memories. Or, the querent may refuse to recognize that things have come to an obvious and total end.
In a three-card reading, this card means…
Past: In the past, the querent hit rock bottom and had to abandon their old way of thinking and all the things that brought them to that end.
Present: Currently, the querent has hit rock bottom and now has to change their mindset in order to move on.
Future: The querent is heading for a final, tragic end to something in which they’ll have no choice but to move on.