After You Hit the Bottom
There’s no denying that the Ten of Swords is one of the scariest looking cards in the RWS tarot deck. A lifeless figure lies on the ground with all ten swords sticking out of that person’s back, a robe the color of blood draped around the lower extremities.. Devastating and dramatic with a touch of overkill – wouldn’t one or two swords have done the job?
As much as it looks like one, the Ten of Swords is not necessarily a harbinger of death or other tragic circumstances (although it can be one depending on the context). It is just as likely to indicate a person’s emotional state, which may or may not correspond to actual events. The person may feel like they’ve hit rock bottom, but the way in which they got there will depend on their own internal make up —one person’s inconvenience is another person’s personal hell.
For example, anyone who knows anything about depression realizes that it can be precipitated by a relatively benign event or by nothing at all. Yet the person who is suffering it might feel every bit as bleak as the person on this card. and while the Nine of Swords might be more of an indication of a pure mental state, the Ten of Swords might refer to the reality a person has created around themselves born of that mental state. (i.e. law of attraction).
The Ten of Swords can also indicate someone who has a victim mentality, where life has become something that happens to them and no longer something that is lived. And maybe something has happened, perhaps even repeatedly, to cause this person to feel like a victim. Staying in the victim mentality will not do anything to help the situation. Taking responsibility and control of one’s own life is a mandatory part of the process of getting away from the victim mentality.
Which, to my way of thinking, brings us to the reversed Ten of Swords, which seems to say, “OK, you really have hit the bottom, so there is only one way to go from here, right? “ At this angle, those swords will soon fall out. There will be scars, and you may continue to feel the pain. You may continue to feel emotional pain when the physical wounds have healed. But you are alive. It’s up to you now to get up and get moving away from whatever brought you here. It might not be easy, but it is possible. You might need help, but in the end it is up to you to do the work.