Ten Of Swords Tarot Card Meaning: Upright & Reversed

The Ten of Swords is the dramatic conclusion, to the story of the suit of swords, before moving onto the court cards. In the card a figure lays defeated, ten swords in their back. It symbolizes a moment of profound realization or the end of a challenging period, suggesting that things have hit rock bottom. Yet, within this defeat you will find a new beginning. The worst has happened, and now, the only way is up. It’s also important to note that the reversal of this card hints at resilience, the process of picking oneself up, and the slow but sure healing that follows after acknowledging one’s lowest point.

So if you’ve drawn the Ten of Swords and you want to know what’s in your future or what the universe is trying to tell you, then keep on reading to find out everything there is to know!

Numerology1 (as 1+0), symbolizing movement, possibilities, newness, independence
Zodiac SignGemini, again representing the intellectual and communicative aspects that can lead to betrayal or a sense of finality in thought or situation.
Ruling PlanetMercury, emphasizing the role of the mind and communication in the experience of endings and new beginnings.
ElementAir, reflecting the mental and communicative nature of endings and the insights that come from them.
Yes or NoNo, suggesting an end to a difficult period, but also implying the start of a new chapter.
CrystalsObsidian (for cutting ties and protection), Clear Quartz (for clarity and new beginnings).

Symbolism Of The Ten Of Swords

  1. The Fallen Person: A person lays face down, defeated, with ten swords in their back. This graphic imagery symbolizes betrayal, hitting rock bottom, and the culmination of all the negative things in your life. It represents a moment of profound loss, and ultimately surrender.
  2. The Swords: The ten swords plunged into the figure’s back represent overkill and the intensity of the situation or feelings involved. They are the negative thoughts, words, or actions that have led to a critical point.
  3. The Dark Sky: The sky is dark and stormy, reflecting the despair and hopelessness of the situation. However, right at the bottom, the dawn is breaking on the horizon, showing that despite the apparent defeat, a new beginning or clarity is on its way.
  4. The Landscape: The setting is barren and desolate, emphasizing the sense of isolation and abandonment. It shows the feeling of being emotionally or spiritually barren but also suggests a clean slate for future growth.
  5. The Absence of the Response: The persons lack of visible response to the swords can indicate acceptance or resignation to the situation, suggesting that sometimes, acceptance is the first step towards recovery and renewal.
Ten Of Swords Symbolism

The Ten Of Swords Upright Meaning

The Ten of Swords is one of the most dramatic and the intense cards in the Tarot. It signifies betrayal, and deep wounds that leave you feeling exposed and defeated. When the Ten of Swords appears in your reading, it’s a signal that you are facing a significant, albeit difficult, transition—one where you’re hitting rock bottom, but it also serves as a crucial turning point.

The essence of the Ten of Swords lies in its depiction of ultimate betrayal and the sense of ruin that accompanies it. This betrayal can come from external sources, such as friends, family, or colleagues who you felt were trustworthy, or it can stem from internal betrayals, where your own actions or decisions have led to your downfall. It’s a moment of reckoning, where the full impact of these betrayals is felt deeply, marking an end to a particular chapter of your life.

Deep wounds and the pain of failure are also central to the message of the Ten of Swords. It represents those times when you feel utterly overwhelmed by disappointment and despair, where the path forward seems obscured by the shadows of past mistakes or misfortunes. It asks you to confront these feelings, to allow yourself to fully experience the depth of your sorrow and loss, for it is through acknowledging our pain that we begin the process of healing.

Ten Of Swords Upright Meaning

Exhaustion and resignation are also significant themes of this card. They reflect the mental, emotional, and physical toll that such intense experiences can take on you. The Ten of Swords shows us you’ve reached a point of surrender, where you recognize that continuing to fight or resist the reality of your situation is futile. This realization, while painful, is also liberating, as it signifies the moment when you can begin to let go of what no longer serves you and start to look towards rebuilding.

Despite its daunting message, the Ten of Swords also carries an undercurrent of hope. In tarot, endings are always followed by new beginnings. The darkness that this card signifies is not the end of your journey but a pivotal point of transformation. It invites you to rise from the ashes of your experiences, to learn from them, and to move forward with a deeper understanding of your resilience and strength.

So, in essence, the Ten of Swords speaks to the necessity of facing our darkest moments with courage and openness. It reminds us that even in the midst of betrayal, failure, and loss, there lies the potential for renewal and growth. By embracing the painful endings and the lessons they bring, you pave the way for a future that is built on a foundation of greater authenticity, wisdom, and inner strength. Remember, after the darkest night, comes the dawn.

Love and Relationships

When it comes to love the Ten of Swords feels like a heavy blow. It’s that gut-wrenching moment when you realize a relationship you valued has reached a painful end, or when trust is shattered by betrayal. This card doesn’t sugarcoat the hurt, but it does promise that this ending marks a necessary clearing for new emotional landscapes. It’s a tough reminder that sometimes, things fall apart so better things can come together. For singles, it might signify letting go of past hurts to make room for new love, understanding that healing is the first step towards opening your heart again.

Career and Finances

When it comes to career and finances, the Ten of Swords represents a significant setback, like losing a job or facing a financial crisis that feels like hitting rock bottom. But, wrapped within this tough lesson is the silver lining of liberation from a situation that wasn’t serving you. It’s a call to reassess your path and to find strength in adversity. It encourages you not to lose hope, for every ending brings the promise of a fresh start and new opportunities that align more closely with your true purpose and potential.


Spiritually, the Ten of Swords can be a profound, albeit difficult, awakening. It’s about confronting the darkest parts of your journey and finding the light of wisdom in them. You’re going through a spiritual transformation, shedding old beliefs and illusions that have held you back. It’s a period of soul-searching that invites you to discover strength in your vulnerabilities and to emerge with a renewed sense of faith and purpose. Remember, the most challenging experiences often lead to the most significant spiritual growth.

Yes or No

For a yes or no question, the Ten of Swords is a clear ‘no,’ telling you that the path you’re inquiring about may lead to disappointment or is coming to an end. But don’t let this discourage you. Every ending is a chance to redirect your energy towards something that better serves your highest good. This card encourages you to look beyond the immediate pain or setback, to embrace change, and to trust in the unfolding of your life’s journey towards brighter horizons.

Book Recommendation: Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl

If you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom, then this book can help bring you back up. It’s about Viktor Frankl’s time in concentration camps, and what drove some to survive while other’s couldn’t In short, it’s about finding something to hold in even when times are terrible, and it’s a truly motivating and profound book I believe everyone should read once.

The Ten Of Swords Reversed Meaning

The Ten of Swords reversed, contrary to the upright version, marks a significant shift from despair and finality. It symbolizes the dawn following the darkest night, focusing on themes of recovery, healing, and the resilience of the human spirit. When this card appears in your reading, it’s a beacon of hope amid adversity, suggesting that you are beginning to rise above the challenges and betrayals that have weighed heavily on you.

With that in mind, recovery and regeneration are at the heart of the Ten of Swords reversed. You are moving past the lowest point of your journey, finding within yourself the strength to pick up the pieces and start anew. Now is a period of healing and improvement, where the deep wounds inflicted by past hurts are beginning to mend. This is a time for self-care and giving yourself the space to heal, both mentally and emotionally.

Survival and resilience shine through with the Ten of Swords reversed. It’s a testament to your ability to withstand life’s toughest trials and to emerge stronger on the other side. So acknowledge your own strength and recognize that the experiences that once brought you to your knees have also taught you invaluable lessons about perseverance and inner fortitude.

Ten Of Swords Reversed Meaning

Continuing with this theme, lessons learned play a crucial role in the message of the Ten of Swords reversed. It shows you are gaining insight from your struggles, using the knowledge gained from past betrayals and failures to guide your future actions. It’s a reminder that every ending carries within it the seeds of new beginnings, and the wisdom you’ve acquired is a powerful tool for navigating the path ahead.

However, the Ten of Swords reversed also cautions against the potential for relapse or resisting an inevitable end. It’s a reminder that healing is not always a linear process and that there may be moments when you feel drawn back into old patterns of thought or behavior that do not serve your highest good. It encourages you to be mindful of these tendencies, to face them with courage and to continue pushing forward towards your recovery.

Additionally, resisting an inevitable end, as highlighted by this card, suggests that there may be situations or relationships in your life that you are holding onto, even though they are no longer viable. Sometimes you need to let go of what cannot be salvaged, to accept the endings as necessary for your growth, and to embrace the new opportunities that await you.

So, the Ten of Swords reversed is a powerful symbol of hope, healing, and renewal. It acknowledges the pain and hardship of your past but focuses on the promise of recovery and the opportunity for a brighter future. By embracing the lessons learned and tapping into your inner resilience, you set the stage for a period of regeneration and improvement, ready to face the world with renewed strength and optimism. Remember, the end of one chapter marks the beginning of another, and with each ending comes the chance for a new start.

Love and Relationships

The Ten of Swords reversed in love shows that you’re finally beginning to see the light after a period of heartache or betrayal. It’s like you’re taking a deep breath of fresh air after being submerged underwater. If you’re in a relationship now could be a time of healing, especially if it’s brought you pain lately. You’re learning from the past and starting to rebuild on a foundation of trust and mutual respect. For singles, you’re learning to let go of the past and the pain of previous relationships and opening up to the possibility of love again, armed with the lessons learned from past hurts.

Career and Finances

When it comes to your career and finances, the Ten of Swords reversed is telling you, “It’s time to get back up.” Maybe you’ve faced setbacks or felt betrayed by those you trusted professionally. Now, you’re finding your footing again, learning from the experience, and ready to take on new challenges. Financial recovery is also on the horizon, suggesting that you’re overcoming previous losses or debts and starting to see a way to financial stability. It’s a reminder that every downfall has its rise, and your resilience is your greatest asset.


Spiritually, the Ten of Swords reversed marks a profound period of awakening and growth. You’ve been through the spiritual wringer and are now emerging with a deeper understanding of your own resilience and strength. It encourages you to reflect on the spiritual lessons gleaned from your trials, using them as stepping stones to a more enlightened and grounded self. It’s about finding light in the darkness and allowing your struggles to deepen your spiritual journey, showing you that true strength often comes from the most challenging experiences.

Yes or No

For a yes or no question, the Ten of Swords reversed is a ‘yes,’ signaling that you’re moving away from a period of difficulty towards one of recovery and improvement. Whatever you’re asking about has the potential for positive change, provided you continue to heal and learn from past experiences. This card encourages optimism and faith in the future, reminding you that after every hardship comes ease and renewal.

Book Recommendation – The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

This book follows the author’s year-long experiment to become happier, and offers practical tips and strategies that you can use to boost your own happiness. So if you’re on the path of your own happiness, there are so many things it’s going to be able to teach you and help you learn!

Journaling Prompts For The Ten Of Swords

The Ten of Swords really is one of those cards that just symbolizes ultimate defeat in a situation. If you’re feeling this energy, then you really need to look deep inside of yourself to find a way out. And here are some great journaling prompts to help you do this.

  1. Think about a time when you reached your limit, and something had to give. What was the final straw, and how did acknowledging this limit ultimately lead to a fresh start?
  2. Betrayal, though painful, can teach profound lessons. Think about what being let down or betrayed taught you about trust, strength, and forgiveness. How have these lessons shaped your approach to relationships now?
  3. Sometimes, admitting that something is over can be the hardest part. Describe a situation you held onto for too long. What signs did you ignore, and how did you finally accept it was time to let go?
  4. Painful endings can be transformative. Write about how a particularly tough ending gave you unexpected strength or insight. How have you used this experience to empower yourself?
  5. With a chapter firmly closed behind you, it’s time to chart a new course. What does this new path entail, and what first step can you take that feels both brave and true to your heart?
  6. Healing from deep wounds requires intention. Describe a personal ritual or practice that could symbolize your healing journey. How does this ritual help you process and move forward?

Final Message Of The Ten Of Swords

This is not the end, only a transition. The ground beneath you, though stained with loss, is fertile with potential. Things that were once instruments of harm, can now serve as stepping stones. You may feel vulnerable, exposed, stripped bare. But in this rawness lies an opportunity. Shed the burdens you held too tightly, release the expectations that weighed you down. This is a chance to rebuild, to start anew, unburdened by the past.

The journey ahead will be challenging. Scars remain, a testament to what you’ve endured. But with each step, you grow stronger, more resilient. Choose not to dwell on the shadows, but to seek the light that still flickers on the horizon. It may be faint, but it’s there, waiting to guide you. This is not a time for weakness, but for quiet determination. Gather your resolve, embrace the lessons learned, and rise from the ashes. Remember, even the mightiest empires crumble, but from their ruins, new life emerges. You are no different. The wounds might heal, the scars might fade, and you will rise, stronger and wiser, ready to face whatever tomorrow brings.


So to be clear, the Ten of Swords symbolizes a low point of betrayal and defeat in your life, whether that be from people around you, or your own thoughts bringing you down. It represents the moment of facing harsh truths, whether and hard losses. However, it also asks you to confront and process your pain, acknowledging the depth of despair to initiate healing.

Reversed, you’re going through a recovery from your past pain, and moving beyond a period of suffering towards healing. It shows your resilience and urges you to learn from the difficult experiences you’ve gone through and apply the lessons you learnt as you rebuild. But it also warns against dwelling on past hurts and resisting necessary endings, as embracing change is vital for personal growth.

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About the author

Hey! I'm Antonio, Owner & Editor of the Fools Journey!

I've been reading Tarot Cards/Getting my tarot read for over 10 years now! For me, what started out as a bit of fun and scepticism, has since grown into such a passion for me.

Tarot Cards are not just a great source of inspiration, but also comfort, and I love using them to help get in touch with the higher powers that are here to guide me through life!

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