Ten of Swords

Tarot Card Meaning & Interpretation

Ten of Swords Minor Arcana Tarot Card Meaning

Symbolism and Interpretation

Ten of Swords




Misfortune. Ruin and loss. Betrayal. Being the victim or martyr.


Upright Meaning

Difficult endings and beginnings. It may take more than one change before real progress is made. Repeated bad choices have created a situation where it will take a great deal of effort and steady work to rebuild.

Perseverence… even if things are so bad that one has to crawl bleeding through the wreckage, one perseveres.

A situation that did not end well. One feels hopeless, but things will improve.

Victim mentality. Hopelessness. Self-Pity. Despair. Hitting rock bottom. Self-sabotage. Misery. Paranoia.

Plans and endeavors are not likely to turn out well.

Choices that make it impossible to return to one’s previous life. Burning one’s bridges.

Treachery and betrayal. Those you have seen as allies are not your allies and in fact may be the opposite.

Reversed Meaning

Those who you have seen as enemies are there for you and will offer a hand when those you trusted have betrayed you.

Beginning to recover. The worst is over. It is hard to see, but things are starting to improve. Clinging to life and the first glimmers of hope.

Old wounds resurfacing. One will need to deal with long buried pain in order to fully heal. A need for transformation so that one does not simply continue recreating old traumas in one’s life.

Creative Process

Ten of Swords

I started working on this card with thinking about what the Ten of Swords suggests to me, what images come to mind, and a review of the traditional imagery and meanings, along with which approach to the interpretation of the card I want to emphasize.

 I took a bit of a different approach this time: instead of starting with the central motif (in this case, the person experiencing stabbies), I instead began with the environment, with a photo of a broken and crumbling road crossing a desolate and barren landscape (a former candidate for the “Hold My Beer” card) along with a favorite image of dark clouds against a yellow sunset.

For the person, I considered a different image of the same woman crawling where she was looking down, but I decided on this image because she is looking at you, her pain immediate and present, and breaking the (to me) impersonal distance suggested by the face down body in the traditional image.

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