In my end is my beginning.
~ T.S. Eliot
This week, we receive one of the more disturbing images that makes the Tarot seem so daunting, especially for the timid. And, to be honest, I would have just as soon not pulled it for this week of the last Full Moon of Winter. But the Ten of Swords is a card rich with meaning and vital gifts from Shadow.
The Tens of each suit are the overflowing of that suit’s energy. With last week’s Ten of Cups, for instance, we saw the overflow, the zenith-plus, of love, emotional harmony, and happiness. In the Ten of Swords, we now have the over-the-top-and-then-some pain of the Swords — so much so that it is almost absurd.
One Sword is quite enough to kill someone. What is depicted here is an extreme portrayal I might call “over-kill” (except it would be such a bad pun!).
The Swords are not physical reality. They are the suit to do with perception, communication, thought, knowledge, and the mind.
So as Tarot scholar 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 absolute, complete despair, when we feel like life is over.
There is a hint here of victimhood, betrayal (the figure, after all, has been stabbed in the back), and perhaps even martyrdom.
Overflowing with pain, and big drama, we face the absolute death, dead as can be, of some previous understanding or way of thinking about things.
What assumptions have you held about a relationship, project, aspiration, or situation that might be crumbling in a way that leaves little doubt as to its finality?
Because now, there can be no last minute revival, no restoration, or denial. This card tells us to let it go; it’s really, really over.
And still yet again…
Now, as still more Winter storms bear down on the heartland of the U.S., as global tensions continue to threaten disaster on the stage of world events, we are, in just one week, going to cross the threshold of Spring, renewal, and life’s rebirth.
Similarly, the Ten of Swords offers a subtle gift that requires looking beyond the obvious.
Unlike the other Swords cards with their dark, threatening skies, in this Ten, the storm has passed. Day is breaking.
Even more revealing, the victim’s right hand is making a sign of benediction and peace. In the last throes of this brutal death, forgiveness is given, and understanding is reached.
When you have no choice, the only way is to let go.
This is an opportunity to admit defeat, accept your loss, and take the next step – the forgiveness of ourselves and even those who would do us wrong.
There is hope in this new dawning. The beautiful magical Phoenix can only rise from its own ashes.
You cannot be reborn, until what has been, is truly, completely released. But having done so there is light and peace on your horizon.
Rebirth awaits. You need only let go of what is already gone.