Life has left her footprints on my forehead.
But I have become a child again this morning.
The smile, seen through leaves and flowers,
is back to smooth away the wrinkles,
as the rains wipe away footprints on the beach.
Again a cycle of birth and death begins.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
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, the Ten of Swords 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. Ten swords, stuck in the back, no less… well, you might say, “over-kill.”
But remember that Swords correspond to the Element of Air. They tell us about our thoughts – not physical reality. They are about perception, attitude, the stories we tell ourselves about things. So, as Tarot expert Rachel Pollack points out, “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 can even be when we have decided that 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 spin, no restoration or repackaging. This card tells us to let it go; it’s really, really over.
Then, and only with that acceptance, 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.
In what way are you being asked to admit defeat, perhaps even a very unfair loss? Is there some area in your life where you feel utterly betrayed and vanquished? What in your life has got to go, and go now, because all the life in it is gone forever?
Painful as it may be, 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. Yet only from ashes can the Phoenix rise.
This week, with a powerful New Moon arriving, a convergence of intense astrological energies and a world full of dramatic upheaval, 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.