Let’s be honest, the 10 of Swords is probably nobody’s favourite card to get in a Tarot reading, no matter how much people try to focus on the silver lining of whatever horrible thing that is going on now nearly being over. In my life, I was stalked by the 10 of Swords for months during a time when I was being stabbed in the back on multiple occasions by people I had previously considered close friends. It hurt like hell.
In the sense of the pain associated with the space of the 10 of Swords actually being reflected back at the Seeker, this card provides relief in the form of validation, I suppose… but what other medicine does this card contain? A.E. Waite has this to say about the 10 of Swords in the Pictorial Key to the Tarot:
A prostrate figure, pierced by all the swords belonging to the card. Divinatory Meanings: Whatsoever is intimated by the design; also pain, affliction, tears, sadness, desolation. It is not especially a card of violent death. Reversed: Advantage, profit, success, favour, but none of these are permanent; also power and authority.
“Whatsoever is intimated by the design” can be clearly seen in the Giant Rider Waite Tarot and is surely more about backstabbing than it is about ‘acupuncture’ as some have suggested, although I can see how both might apply depending on the question and surrounding cards.
In the Frideborg Tarot, we have the snake as symbol of betrayal for the reason of this card being associated with backstabbing. Terrifying as it looks, its power is illusory; We have a lot of power in controlling how affected we are by it once we awaken to this fact. It’s the stuff of nightmares but just like terrifying dreams play themselves out in our minds, so does the drama of the 10 of Swords snake.
In the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot), the 10 of Swords has the title ‘The Destroyer.’ This spirit can be seen as either putting the swords in the back of the figure lying prone on the ground OR as pulling them out. The Destroyer has four hands and three faces and can be invoked to turn its destructive power onto a known enemy. Benebell Wen describes The Destroyer as ‘a female death spirit, akin to the Greek Keres.’
Destruction is always part of the creative process but sometimes senseless destruction causes so much lateral damage that not even a lifetime is long enough to rectify the situation entirely. Perhaps this is why Crowley chose the title ‘Ruin’ for the Thoth Tarot 10 of Swords.
Just for today, may we be mindful of the destructive forces in our own life, whether caused by the ‘rust of the mind’ or by outside forces. May we safeguard our hearts and minds with the light of Truth and invoke divine protection against the type of destructive forces that seek our ultimate ruin. So it is.The rust of the mind is the destruction of genius. ~ Seneca The Younger Click To Tweet
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