Ten of Swords

Element: AIR

Upright: Backstabbing, Victimisation, Overreacting
Reversed: Surviving Disaster, Lessons Learned / Complete Ruin, Relapse

Symbology, Meaning and Interpretation


Backstabbing, Victimisation, Overreacting.

The Ten of Swords denotes an abrupt moment of pain and failure.

A man is lying on the ground in a rocky seascape. His body is covered in a white cloth as if he is dead with ten enormous swords cruelly nailed to him. A disquieting atmosphere fills up our hearts.

We feel that others are acting against us out of jealousy, envy, hatred, or revenge. The strikes are more than we can handle, and we go down, defeated. This is a card of cruelty or betrayal, and the outcome is completely inevitable. That makes the card even more fearful.

However, and despite the dreadful picture, this card does not represent death or even violence. Many interpretations describe the brutality of the image more as the reaction to the problems than the problems themselves.

An interesting detail is that the swords pierced in the body do not have blood on them, nor the point where they were stabbed. Is the character really injured by the swords, or is it just overreacting?

Too many swords carved in a body look like an exaggeration, expressing some kind of hysteria or victimisation. Our attitude facing this card is as if no one ever suffered more than we do. That idea suggests that maybe the situation is not as bad as we imagine it, for there is a light rising in the distant horizon. Hope is coming like a bright dawn.


Surviving Disaster, Lessons Learned / Complete Ruin, Relapse.

This card in reverse signals a pausing moment in which you can analyse how you proceeded. It is not yet a moment of victory, but a chance to turn things around.

It means that we survived the harsh times and are fighting bravely to stand up. The sunshine in the background gives you the motivation you need to start over, rebuild yourself and fix what is wrong.

Instead of complaining about your condition, do something to improve it, which is a great first step.

Alternatively, it can make your fears come true and problems come back.
This is the moment to be stronger than ever to avoid the situation getting worse.