Ten of Swords Tarot Card Meaning

By Charrette Vachon

The Ten of Swords belongs to the suit of Swords and is the 10th Minor Arcana card. This card denotes death, endings, and finality, which is generally considered a bad omen. Yet the Ten of Swords also indicates renewal.

While the card may be a distressing draw, it’s essential to remember that even the most unexpected endings often give way to new beginnings and hope for better things.

  • Element: Air
  • Planet: Mars
  • Key dates: June 11 to June 20
  • Astrological sign: Gemini

Symbolism and Description

The Ten of Swords in the Rider-Waite deck is nothing if not grim and somber. The card depicts a man lying down on the ground, arms outstretched as if he has been struck down. The fallen man has a red shroud over his bottom half and wears a golden cape, representing honor and a force of good who has met a heroic end.

What’s more shocking is the ten swords lodged in his back and the blood pooling around as he lies beneath an ominous black sky. The swords appear to be overkill, yet they’re a testament to the overwhelming nature of major disasters.

The man’s head is turned away as he focuses on the blue calm of the sea in his dying moments instead of the violent scene surrounding him. Though present circumstances may seem tragic, there’s hope in the hint of golden light peeking through the dark clouds and a beautiful significance in the distant silhouette of mountains.

The sea before seems serene and infinite, untroubled by the carnage it’s witnessing, signifying beauty and peace even in a world with many tragic happenings.

The Ten of Sword Personified

The Ten of Swords is often shocking because of its mournful and solemn visual images and symbols. The symbolic representation alludes to a theatrical individual who is all doom and gloom in the face of failure, whether minor or severe.

Such an individual has a habit of blowing their misfortunes out of proportion, such that one sword might seem like ten. The Ten of Swords as a person might find it hard to see the silver lining in the bad things happening to them.

However, they never lose hope completely and will do their best to cast around for a light at the end of the tunnel. They often cling to other people in the search for a lifeline, particularly those who appear to be experiencing good fortune and prosperity.

When all is said and done, the Ten of Swords works hard, always striving for happiness. Despite their penchant for being overly dramatic, they’re comparable to a sunflower that’s ever ready to face the sun.

Ten of Swords: Upright and Positive Meanings

Traumatic events are usually painful and unexpected. The Ten of Swords represent a sharp blow, dealt unexpectedly and challenging to recover from. This could be the death of someone close, a relationship, or the end of life as you know it.

While the Ten of Swords symbolizes a major catastrophe, and also points to an overdramatization of existing problems. For instance, an unexpected roadblock in one’s career might be exaggerated to seem like the end of the road.

The excessive number of swords symbolizes a subconscious but self-destructive tendency to dramatize and overanalyze normal failures in everyday life.

Love and Relationships

The Ten of Swords doesn’t bode well for romantic relationships. If you’re in love, the days of your relationship are numbered. Maybe all seems well and normal, but chances are your partner is unhappy and unfulfilled.

They might be looking elsewhere for the missing element in your relationship and will not hesitate to jump ship if the right opportunity presents itself. On the other hand, if you’re currently single, be wary of the people you attract.

They’re likely to be untrustworthy, and you may be falling in love with someone who will backstab you. For both singles and those in relationships, the Ten of Swords indicates a series of misfortunes.

The continued drama could lead your inner circle to distance themselves. The Ten of Swords might also mean you’re overly suspicious of the people surrounding you as you try to uncover betrayal before it’s too late. The irony is that this behavior is what causes people close to you to take a step back and turn elsewhere for intimacy and connection.


The Ten of Swords represents a devastating end, and the symbolism spells negative news for your career. You may be out of a job soon, or your career may meet a sudden and unexpected end.

This will likely result in a severe crisis where you have to start from rock bottom. Drawing the Ten of Swords in an upright position may also indicate a career roadblock that proves difficult to get past.

This standstill in the progression of your career might be caused by the people you work with. Colleagues you trusted may have backstabbed you to further their own interests. However, it’s important to remain calm and collected but avoid entrusting them with significant decisions concerning high-priority projects.


The Ten of Swords represents financial rock-bottom, perhaps crippling debt. This cash flow crisis could leave you in a difficult position where quick solutions are scarce.

As such, you should be trimming your budget to only focus on necessary expenses while allocating extra cash to your savings in preparation for rainy days. This is the best time to employ a strict approach to your spending habits.

Keep an eye on high-interest debt and try to minimize any negative impact it may have on your personal finances down the line.


The Ten of Swords indicates a physical restriction. This could be a still-healing injury stopping you from engaging in certain activities, which could cause mental health issues, such as powerlessness and loneliness.

It may also feel like you’re under attack from people close to you but too vulnerable to defend yourself. Keep in mind the potential to falsely view people’s actions as sinister and hostile, which only fuels your paranoia.

Being overly suspicious of others’ motives and intentions could cause your mental health to deteriorate further, resulting in depression and high stress levels. So instead of reading into things that are not there, it’s best to view your relationships in a positive light.

If you’re struggling to relate well socially on your own, seeing a mental health professional is the best thing you can do to manage your feelings and thoughts.

Ten of Swords: Reversed and Negative Meanings

Drawing the reversed Ten of Swords strongly symbolizes negative occurrences. Yet, even then, the negative and harsh message conveys hope that the situation will improve.

The Ten of Swords in the reverse position may mean you’re fighting to prevent the end of something. You might be aware of what’s coming, and you’re working hard to neutralize the crisis.

Yet, given the inevitability of it all, it’s wiser to focus on softening the blow. On the flip side, the reversed Ten of Swords can also represent a crisis that has already happened, the stirring of hope after a humiliating failure.

The floor might have given way beneath you, but you’ll discover solid ground again, and when you rise, you’ll be stronger for it. Still, getting through this tough phase will require a lot of hard work. You’ll need to focus on developing a positive mindset to recover from the heavy blow.

Love and Relationships

The reversed Ten of Swords illustrates rock-bottom or the ending of something, which may be reflected in your dating or love life. For example, if you’re in a relationship, this card might represent a looming breakup.

The reason could be infidelity or just your partner yearning for something they can’t get in the relationship. Although it’s normal to feel betrayed and bewildered, you should be able to eventually accept their decision and see it as a blessing in disguise.

If you’re single, you could be hitting many dead-ends, such as attracting people who have no interest in you and will abandon you when you need them. Someone you’re strongly attracted to could be causing unnecessary complications or burdening you with their insecurities.

It might be best to quit holding onto potential partners exhibiting behaviors like distrust. Nipping unhealthy relationships in the bud may be better for the bigger picture.


The upright and reversed versions of the Ten of Swords both indicate bad news for your career. Common scenarios include losing your job, a disastrous outcome on a crucial project, or a fall down the corporate ladder.

These are all events that can seriously hinder your career. Though this crisis will be understandably challenging to navigate, it’s essential to remain positive. The reversed version also symbolizes a fresh, new start.

Losing your job might be the push you to pursue dreams you put on the back burner or ignored because your career took center stage.


When it comes to your finances, the negative symbolism of the Ten of Swords indicates money problems around the corner. Drawing the reversed version may indicate you’ll have a better handle on the situation, though there’s nothing you can do to keep it from happening.

Having something to hold onto will help you quickly recover from the financial crisis. Things may be challenging, but remain steadfast and focused on the hope of a better tomorrow.

Avoid worsening the situation with high-risk business deals and investments. Grow your savings instead to protect against potential threats to your financial health.


When drawn, the reversed Ten of Swords indicates an urgent and terrible message regarding your health. If you’ve any worrying health issues, it’s important to heed the warning and visit a qualified doctor sooner rather than later.

When given such an ominous health reading, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so don’t delay that doctor’s appointment. If your doctor shares bad news, remain hopeful because a health reading involving the reversed Ten of Swords symbolizes new beginnings.

Though the horizon appears dark, try to have a positive mindset concerning your future.

Your Past, Present, and Future

The Ten of Swords represents finality, failure, and a new chapter in life. Therefore, the past is the most favorable, indicating that you have put the worst behind you. You have endured some trials but stayed strong and ultimately triumphed over the crisis.

The present position indicates you’re still recovering from a fresh betrayal. You’re yet to heal, but you hope for new beginnings, friends, and relationships. The future position is the most disheartening.

There are difficult times ahead, involving painful emotions and experiences. Even if you hit rock bottom or experience an evitable ending, remember that with time, the future becomes the past, and you’ll have moved successfully past everything.

Important Card Combinations

When combined with other cards, the Ten of Swords throws more light on the details of a looming conclusion and helps you figure out the best way to deal with the situation. This card generally represents negative events but also hints at a fresh start.

The Ten of Swords and Wheel of Fortune

The Wheel of Fortune illustrates the good and bad times and the sudden changes that lead us from one to the other. Together with the Ten of Swords, the pair represents uncertainty. Your future likely holds ups and downs, but nothing is crystal clear.

The Ten of Swords and Strength

The Strength card represents the ability to overcome a difficult situation. The pairing, therefore, indicates that you might meet with some form of disgrace or humiliation.

The good news is that your inner strength will help you counter the difficulties faced without turning bitter. Instead, you’ll be able to maintain positive qualities, such as grace, poise, determination, hope, and kindness.

The Ten of Swords and Chariot

The Chariot is a card about triumphing over difficulties and forging ahead toward a new beginning. This adds a message of victory to The Ten of Swords’ message of loss or endings.

This combination indicates a brief fall, but you’ll be able to get up and dust yourself off before moving forward.

The Ten of Swords: Yes or No Questions

The Ten of Swords is generally a no because of its negative symbolism.