10 of Swords: Tarot Card Meaning

By Lauren Williams
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10 of Swords Keywords


  • Betrayal
  • Emotional pain
  • Backstabbed
  • Endings
  • Loss
  • Devastating blow
  • Crisis
  • Suffering
  • Trauma
  • Hitting rock bottom


  • Recovery
  • Regeneration
  • Resilience
  • Rising above negativity
  • Rebuilding
  • Forgiveness
  • Release of pain
  • Overcoming obstacles
  • End of a cycle
  • Hope after despair

10 of Swords Essential Meanings Snapshot


In its upright position, the 10 of Swords signifies the end and the new beginning, surrender, relief, and closure. This card indicates that a challenging period of your life is ending, and even though the ordeal was painful, it helped your overall growth and transformation. Surrender to the circumstance may feel like a crisis, but it’s important to remember that the situation will bring liberation and open up new pathways for you.


On the other hand, the reversed 10 of Swords may signify the refusal to accept the endings and clinging onto the past, or a partial recovery or comeback. There may be an existence of rejection, denials and avoidance of inevitable changes in your life. This card may also indicate that you’re slowly picking yourself up from a past setback, and it’s a sign of resilience and determination in face of adversity.

10 of Swords Description

The 10 of Swords card visual displays a striking and intense scene. The image’s focal point is a man lying face down, with ten large, ominous swords lodged into his back.

His posture and the placement of the swords signify finality, indicating that there’s no more fight left in him. His closure might seem to be abrupt and unpleasant; however, it implicitly signifies the end of the turmoil and the beginning of relief from the emotional or mental pain he was previously experiencing.

10 swords stabbed into a man on the ground as the ten of swords tarot card.

The sky above him is pitch dark, filled with ominous dark clouds. The darkness echoes the despair and the intense emotions of the card, suggesting an atmosphere of grief and end.

However, there’s a golden dawn breaking on the horizon. This release of light in the midst of darkness signals the promise of a new beginning, pushing through after the closure, the inevitable sunrise that follows the darkest hour.

The man’s red robe draped over him adds a vibrant yet poignant touch. The red symbolises his life’s vitality and passion, implying that even in tribulation, the spark of life remains, further emphasizing the possibility of renewal and resurrection after the painful ordeals.

The scene is set in an empty landscape, making the man and the swords the sole points of focus. This uncluttered setting emphasizes the significance of the depicted emotions and the transformation it conceals within its symbolism.

Beyond the Surface: Symbolic Meanings

  • The Ten Swords: Each sword in the Ten of Swords tarot card represents a challenging situation or a difficult thought. Collectively, they symbolize an overwhelming conclusion or a turning point in one’s life. The presence of all ten swords suggests the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new dawn.
  • The Sky: The ominous dark sky in the background denotes trouble, sorrow, and despair. It mirrors the turmoil within the individual’s life. However, the rising sun on the far-off horizon hints at new beginnings.
  • The Depicted Figure: The figure lying on the ground face-down symbolizes defeat, betrayal, and sometimes backstabbing. It depicts an individual feeling hopeless and powerless due to circumstances beyond their control.
  • The Wavy Waters: The serene water body in the midst of chaos represents emotional balance, resilience, and the ability to withstand tumultuous situations. It also symbolizes the flux of life and its inevitable ups and downs.
  • The Mountainous Landscape: The mountains in the background of the card symbolize obstructions, challenges, and hurdles. Yet, they also represent resilience, strength, and the ability to overcome. The path upon the mountains signifies an ongoing journey, emphasizing that every end leads to a new beginning.

Each element in the Ten of Swords holds a profound meaning, urging us to delve deeper beyond the surface. It offers a nuanced perspective that is crucial for a holistic understanding of the card.

Dual Perspectives: Upright & Reversed

When interpreting the 10 of Swords tarot card, it’s crucial to understand the card’s distinct meanings based on its position. Much like many aspects of life, it carries dual significance.

Upright 10 of Swords

In its upright presentation, 10 of Swords signifies the ending of a cycle. It paints an abrasive image of defeat and despair. The card represents a painful yet necessary closure which, while overwhelming, is needed for a fresh start. It suggests a period of significant hardship or struggle that has reached its climax.

Reversed 10 of Swords

Conversely, when drawn reversed, the 10 of Swords presents a more optimistic message. It signals recovery, resilience, and the onset of renewal after enduring a trying period. Despite facing a rough time, the reversed position indicates that the worst is over and it’s time for a revival.

In essence, the upright 10 of Swords indicates the crushing weight of defeat, making way for a new beginning. The reversed, however, signals a shift from the darkness toward resilience and renewal, marking the start of a comeback journey. Drawing this card, no matter the orientation, signifies the importance of perspective during challenging times.

10 of Swords in Life Scenarios

The 10 of Swords, as a powerful Tarot card, can reflect varied situations of life. From personal growth to career choices, it can give us profound insights and revelation.

Growth & Self-Discovery

When the 10 of Swords appears in context of personal growth and self-discovery, it represents the absolute end of a difficult situation or phase in life. This could be a period of struggle, stress, or emotional turmoil. Embracing the pain of the current situation can lead to a valuable treasure of wisdom and strength. Surrendering to this hardship, acknowledging your grief and pain, can lead to new beginnings and personal transformation.

Career and Creativity

In the realm of career and creativity, the ten of Swords may suggest that a challenging time in your occupational life is coming to an end. You might have experienced hefty difficulties and now it’s time for closure. In terms of creativity, this might signify the death of an old concept or idea, serving as a vessel for fresh inspiration and innovative ideas to flow.

Relationships & Bonds

The 10 of Swords appearing in relationship readings often signifies the end of a relationship or a difficult period within a relationship. It may evoke a sense of loss, betrayal, or heartache. This is a symbol of allowing the old to die away to make room for the new. While this could be a challenging period, it is necessary for a clean slate and new beginnings. Understanding and acceptance of this situation will help in moving forward.

To read more about the 10 of Swords in the context of feelings, read our 10 of Swords as Feelings article.

Choices & Life Decisions

Regarding significant life choices and decisions, the 10 of Swords signals the end of one journey and the start of another. It might reflect the choice to let go of things, people, or situations that are no longer serving you and causing distress. It acts like a catalyst, encouraging you to learn and grow through these challenging experiences preparing you to welcome new opportunities with open arms.

To read more about the 10 of Swords when making decisions, read our 10 of Swords: Yes or No article.

10 of Swords from Past to Present

The 10 of Swords card has undergone significant changes since its original depiction in the 15th-century Visconti-Sforza tarot deck. First drawn as a figure being stabbed with ten swords, it’s interpreted as a card of end and painful finales.

From Renaissance to Modern Decks

The Visconti-Sforza version painted a horrifying scene of a man being attacked from all sides, a depiction reflected in the Marseilles deck centuries later. This deck showcased a person lying down with ten swords pierced through his body, illustrating a rather violent end.

The transformation of the card into the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot saw a new way of depicting the card’s message. The man lying with swords in his back is present, yet with a sunrise in the background, adding a touch of hope and a promise of new beginnings after a tragic end.

Modern Interpretations

Modern Tarot Decks, however, often show a more metaphorical interpretation. The 10 of Swords may portray a person surrounded by scattered swords, signaling defeat but not necessarily physical harm. This modern representation encapsulates the idea of drastic changes, endings, and subsequent personal growth.

The evolution of the 10 of Swords showcases the broader interpretation of Tarot from terror-inducing to a tool for personal growth and overcoming psychological obstacles. On its journey from the past to the present, the 10 of Swords has transformed from a literal depiction of physical harm to a symbolic representation of metaphorical end and the promise of rebirth.

Synergistic Card Combinations

When we venture further into the Tarot realm, it’s fascinating to observe how different cards interact with each other. These combinations create intriguing narratives, reflecting the interconnectedness of life’s situations.

10 of Swords and The Fool

In combination, the 10 of Swords and The Fool convey the end of an arduous journey that precedes a fresh start. It’s a reflection of willingly undergoing change after experiencing a painful truth or betrayal. This combination assuages us with a reminder that a fresh start lies ahead each time we confront an ending.

10 of Swords and The Magician

Together, the 10 of Swords and The Magician signify a profound shift from despair to empowerment. The Magician’s influence helps to recover from the mental suffering represented by the 10 of Swords and awaken new possibilities of change and transformation.

10 of Swords and The Star

The blend of the 10 of Swords with The Star card taps into your innate powers of renewal and rejuvenation. There’s a silver lining to the mental or emotional heartache; it drives you towards healing, hope, and renewal, symbolized by The Star.

10 of Swords and The Tower

The pairing of these two cards amplifies the theme of dramatic and unexpected change. The 10 of Swords already hints at harsh realities, and coupling it with The Tower suggests an unsettling revelation or upheaval that dramatically alters your perspective.

10 of Swords and The Sun

In this configuration, the 10 of Swords and The Sun shape a narrative of positivity emerging from the midst of despair. After reaching the lowest point symbolized by the 10 of Swords, The Sun promises a new dawn, heralding joy, vitality, and success.

10 of Swords and The Devil

When combined, the 10 of Swords and The Devil underscore a narrative of toxic attachments or self-inflicted suffering. This reminds us to break free from detrimental patterns or negative environments in order to restore our mental and spiritual health.

In all these above combinations, the 10 of Swords offers a nuanced exploration of life’s trials, while the partnering cards supply added interpretive depth. This demonstrates the beautiful depth of Tarot—the cards don’t merely deliver dire predictions, but unravel layered stories and deliver insights to guide our life’s journey.

Introspection & Meditation

Meditative Practices with 10 of Swords

The Ten of Swords is a potent card for introspection and meditation, encouraging you to foster a deep understanding of your personal traumas and disappointments. Meditative practices with this card can involve visualizing its imagery while focusing on your breath. Picture the swords as your past hurts, each one planted firmly into your existence as a symbol of the lessons you’ve learned and the struggles you’ve endured.

Personal Reflections

Promote healing and acceptance by spending time in quiet reflection. Contemplate the occurrences that brought you this feeling of defeat, and recognize the strength you have gained from these experiences. Reflection on the 10 of Swords nudges you to realize that endings are only precursors to new beginnings.

Faciality and Emotional Release

In your meditation journey with the 10 of Swords, allocate time to face your emotions. Let each hardship represented by the swords emerge from the shadows of your consciousness. Acknowledge each emotion as it surfaces, and then envision it being released back into the universe.

Acceptance & Future Possibilities

Visualize the sunrise depicted on the 10 of Swords, marking the beginning of a new day after enduring a dark night. Use this image as a symbol of your potential for renewal, acceptance, and fresh starts.

Through meditation and introspection with the 10 of Swords, you can transform adversities into strengths, open your heart to new opportunities, and have faith in your resilience.


The 10 of Swords tarot card upright, signifies an end and a new beginning, highlighting the importance of hard times for personal growth. When reversed, it indicates denial of changes or partial recovery.

This card symbolizes transformations, resilience, and the importance of perspective during challenging times. It can be influential in various life scenarios such as personal growth, career, relationships, and major life decisions.

What Next?

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Lauren holding a crystal ball in her hands.


Lauren Williams
Lauren merges ancient wisdom with modern insights, offering a fresh perspective on life's mysteries. She's passionate about guiding individuals through the world of astrology, lunar cycles, numerology, and tarot. When she's not charting the stars or reading tarot, she enjoys getting out in nature, hikes and yoga.