Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

Tarot Card of the Week: Feb. 23 – March 1, 2009

Ten of Swords
In my end is my beginning.
— T.S. Eliot

For people with even the most casual exposure to the Tarot, today’s card is one they never forget. One of the most grisly looking cards, it is often dreaded and admittedly not the happiest of all the Tarot images. So, yes, fasten your seatbelts, friends; it could be a bumpy week.

The Tens of each suit are the overflowing of that suit’s energy. With the Cups, for instance, it is the overflow, the zenith and then some, of love, emotional harmony and happiness. In the Ten of Swords, we have the over-the-top pain of the Swords — so much so that it is almost ridiculous. One Sword is quite enough to kill someone. This is, well, you might say, “over-kill.”

As Tarot scholar Rachel Pollack points out, though, “This card does not represent death, or even especially violence. It signifies more of a reaction to problems than the problems themselves.”

This is certainly how we feel sometimes, when we have been so wounded in some way, that we can’t believe anyone has ever suffered as much. The Ten of Swords seems to be complete, absolute despair. It is when we feel like life itself is over.

Overwhelmed with pain, and big drama, we face the absolute death, dead as can be, of an idea, relationship, project, aspiration, or situation with which we have lived for quite some time. There can be no doubt, no revival, no restoration or repackaging. This card tells us to let it go; it’s really, really over.

And then, only with that recognition, painful as it may be, you will receive the secret gift within this card.

For notice, that, unlike other Swords cards with turbulent, stormy waters, the lake or river in the background is peaceful. And, in contrast with, for instance, the Nine, with its completely black background, here the storm here has passed, and day is breaking. Even more telling, the victim’s right hand is making a sign of benediction and peace. In the last throes of this brutal death, forgiveness is given, understanding is reached.

When we have no choice, the only way is through. This is an opportunity to admit defeat, as unfair as it might be. We must accept our loss. Only by so doing will we ever be able to take the next step, which requires the forgiveness of ourselves and even those who would do us wrong.

At the darkest time, the dawn is nearby. And there is hope in this new day. Only from the ashes can the Phoenix rise.

This week, we are invited to prepare for a rebirth. But this cannot happen, until what has come before is truly, completely released. There is light and peace on our horizon. We need only let go of what is already gone.

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  • February 23, 2009, 2:33 pm ARIE

    As the swords represent the element Air, I would say that this situation applies more to the mind. Or this is the place where it starts.
    If I have a problem and identify myself with it, then this problem magnifies itself in my mind, spiraling up.
    This then affects my emotions and my body. If I have a pain, then the pain gets more intense. Or I can get over-emotional, my breathing becomes shorter and quicker. The whole system gets off balance.
    Either I catch myself in time and take some distance or things get really bad and I get to the rock bottom, from where I can only go up.
    It is a good warning card. Pay attention! Take deep breaths, relax and avoid getting identified with the problem. You have to catch yourself immediately, otherwise it will be too late, because “you” will not be there anymore to handle the situation.
    Easy said than done :-))

  • February 24, 2009, 10:22 am Beth Owl's Daughter

    Arie – I just love the wisdom you have. This is such great insight. Thank you so much!
    – Beth, who is taking deep breaths.

  • April 5, 2009, 7:48 am Daniel

    So glad you included the Eliot quote – even after his conversion to Christianity he delved heavily into Indian philosophy and mysticism – this quote is from the beginning of the Four Quartets, but he also directly used Tarot imagery in his seminal work, The Waste Land, among other works.

  • April 6, 2009, 7:56 am Beth Owl's Daughter

    Thanks for finding this and your comment, Daniel! Not sure why I had to moderate it, but glad to see you here!
    – Beth