Life can sometimes feel like one struggle after another. You may feel overwhelmed, burdened, and completely defeated. This feeling is captured perfectly in the imagery of the 10 of Swords tarot card. The 10 of Swords shows a man lying face down with ten swords piercing his back – a rather visceral symbol of betrayal, loss and pain. Despite the bleak imagery, the 10 of Swords often marks a turning point where things can only improve from here. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

This article provides a comprehensive guide to the 10 of Swords meaning, symbolism and interpretations of the 10 of Swords in tarot readings. Whether the card appears in its upright or reversed position, we will explore what it means for your love life, career, finances, health, and spirituality. Plus, we will look at the numerology and astrological connections of this minor arcana card.

10 of Swords Key Facts

Upright Meaning Betrayal, loss, pain, defeat
Reversed Meaning Recovery, regeneration, forgiveness
Yes or No No
Numerology 1
Element Air
Planet Mercury
Astrological Sign Gemini

10 of Swords Tarot Card Description

The 10 of Swords shows a scene of sorrow and devastation. A man lies face down on the ground with ten swords pierced through his back. Some of the blades have pierced all the way through his body. Heavy dark clouds loom in the sky and the water behind him appears turbulent and stormy. The man looks lifeless and defeated.

This graphic imagery represents the culmination of pain, humiliation, betrayal and failure. It is one of the most challenging cards to receive in a reading as it marks an abrupt and painful end. Sometimes this card points to being sabotaged or viciously attacked, often when you least expect it. Other times it represents hitting rock bottom or a moment of absolute defeat when you feel you just cannot go on.

However, the 10 of Swords often marks a necessary end before new beginnings can occur. With nowhere left to go but up, this card calls for acceptance, forgiveness and the opportunity to pick yourself back up again. The dawn after the darkness.

The Upright 10 of Swords Tarot Card Meaning

The Upright 10 of Swords Tarot Card Meaning
The Upright 10 of Swords Tarot Card Meaning

Love Relationships

When it comes to love and relationships, an upright 10 of Swords is an omen of pain, separation, betrayal and loss. Your partner may have been deceitful, unfaithful or betrayed your trust in some way, resulting in heartbreak and despair. This card may also point to a painful separation or divorce. The relationship has completely broken down with no chance of reconciliation. While this separation is devastating initially, in time you will come to see it was necessary to free you from ongoing mistreatment or unhappiness. Brighter days lay ahead.

If you are single, the 10 of Swords can indicate that you are carrying pain and trust issues from your past relationships. Past betrayals are preventing you from opening your heart fully. It is time to work on forgiveness and moving forward so you are open to love when it arrives.


In career readings, the 10 of Swords can signify a painful ending to a job or important project. No matter how hard you tried, you suffered failure and defeat. You may have been overlooked for an important promotion or your role made redundant. Equally, a key project may have failed despite your best efforts. This ending is difficult to accept but an important learning experience. Reflect on what went wrong and how you can improve for the future rather than dwelling on the loss. Soon new opportunities will present themselves.

Alternatively, this card can point to betrayal and sabotage in the workplace. Co-workers may have spread rumours, taken credit for your work or actively worked against you. Again, while painful, this experience helps you identify who you can and cannot trust at work. Dust yourself off and get back out there!


Financially, the 10 of Swords warns of sudden and unwelcome losses or unexpected expenses that create a significant setback. You may have suffered a financial betrayal such as fraud or theft of funds. Alternatively, a poor investment may have failed spectacularly, costing you dearly. While the loss is disappointing, use it as motivation to be more prudent in the future. Manage your money more carefully rather than taking unnecessary risks. Over time, you can recover from this loss.


In health readings, the 10 of Swords can represent hitting rock bottom in terms of health and vitality when you have been feeling run down or unwell for some time. You may receive a difficult diagnosis or prognosis from your doctor that is hard to accept initially. Know that this health or energy crisis will soon pass and your health will improve. Focus on rest, recovery and implementing healthier habits. Support is available if you reach out.

Alternatively, this card can point to health betrayals, such as being misdiagnosed or wrongfully advised by a medical professional. Again, while you feel defeated initially, let this experience help identify the right doctors for your health needs.


Spiritually, the upright 10 of Swords reflects a crisis of faith or loss of spiritual path. You may feel abandoned or angry at God/Universe and doubtful about divine purpose. This card calls for surrender – sometimes we must hit rock bottom in order to reconnect with faith and meaning. Trust that your current darkness and despair will give way to spiritual renewal in good time. Strengthen your spiritual practices.

The Reversed 10 of Swords Tarot Card Meaning

The Reversed 10 of Swords Tarot Card Meaning
The Reversed 10 of Swords Tarot Card Meaning

Love Relationships

When it comes to relationships, the reversed 10 of Swords is a positive sign you are slowly recovering after pain and betrayal in love. Your heartbreak begins to heal. You are able to view the relationship more philosophically, taking lessons from the painful ending. This clarity enables forgiveness, both of your ex-partner and yourself. You realise you deserved more all along. Now you are ready to move forward with hope, establishing healthier boundaries in future relationships.

If single, a reversed 10 of Swords reflects you are letting go of any relationship wounds or trust issues from your past. You are open and ready for love again, wiser for the challenging experiences. Exciting new relationships wait around the corner.


In career readings, a reversed 10 of Swords is an excellent omen of professional recovery after setbacks or job loss. You begin to bounce back, gaining clarity and confidence after initially feeling defeated. This card often appears around the time new job opportunities arise to replace what was lost. You may also be offered a second chance on a project or promotion that previously fell through. With the difficult ending behind you, the reversed 10 of Swords heralds a brighter professional outlook.


Financially, the reversed 10 of Swords indicates financial recovery after an unexpected loss or setback. You begin to regain your financial footing, having learned important lessons about better money management. New opportunities to strengthen your financial situation start to appear. Remain vigilant and continue making cautious, conservative choices.


For health, the reversed 10 of Swords is an excellent sign your health is starting to improve and recover after an illness or medical setback initially left you feeling powerless. You regain strength, energy and vitality. This card suggests establishing healthier habits and being vigilant about self-care. The worst is behind you now – continue moving forward one day at a time.


In spiritual readings, a reversed 10 of Swords indicates renewed faith and connection with the Divine after a period of doubt and despair. Your spiritual strength is renewed after being tested. You regain a sense of meaning and purpose. Now is the time for spiritual growth and development.

10 of Swords Tarot Card in Yes or No Questions

10 of Swords Tarot Card in Yes or No Questions
10 of Swords Tarot Card in Yes or No Questions

The 10 of Swords almost always signifies a ‘No’ when it appears in yes/no tarot spreads. Only in very specific circumstances does this card indicate a positive outcome. The 10 of Swords suggests plans will fall through, you will not get the desired result and the outcome is negative. In financial spreads, this card almost always indicates financial loss. The 10 of Swords says pick yourself up, learn from this difficult lesson and try again.

10 of Swords Tarot Card and Numerology

In numerology, the number 10 resonates with new beginnings, optimism and determination. It reduces to the number 1 (1 + 0 = 1). Number 1 is all about new journeys, fresh starts, motivation and striving for success. Despite the challenging imagery of the 10 of Swords, this numerological influence hints you have the inner resources to pick yourself back up and start over stronger. The key is remaining optimistic and focusing your energy. You write your own destiny.

10 of Swords Tarot Card and Astrology

Astrologically, the 10 of Swords is connected to the zodiac sign of Gemini. Gemini is ruled by Mercury and associated with the element Air. Gemini energy is all about communication, learning, information exchange and connections. The sign is portrayed by the Twins – it has a dual nature, symbolising duality and choices. Gemini is adaptable and curious but can sometimes lack follow through.

When the 10 of Swords appears, you are called to adaptability, curiosity and gaining new perspective during this difficult transit. Reflect, learn and communicate your feelings to help process the loss. Remain open to new possibilities emerging. You will discover a new path forwards.

10 of Swords Tarot Card Combinations

  • 10 of Swords + 3 of Swords: Heartbreak, deep grief, sorrow
  • 10 of Swords + 5 of Cups: A relationship ending painfully, time to move forward
  • 10 of Swords + The Tower: Sudden and shocking disaster, world turned upside down
  • 10 of Swords + Death: A necessary ending, deep transformation ahead
  • 10 of Swords + The Devil: Being bound or trapped in a toxic situation
  • 10 of Swords + Judgement: A reckoning, being held accountable for misdeeds
  • 10 of Swords + The World: Completion of a difficult life cycle, freedom

10 of Swords Tarot Card Designs

The Rider-Waite Smith 10 of Swords shows a reddened sky above a desolate landscape, suggesting that turmoil and grief. A man lays face down with ten swords embedded in his back. He wears a blue robe with yellow trim, symbolising both wisdom and deceit were present. A nearby river flows into the ocean, reflecting the process of release after this devastating loss.

In other decks, the 10 of Swords equally depicts loss, betrayal and endings. The Swords may pierce a human figure, fall from the sky or lay shattered on the ground. Some designs focus on a solitary sword – the singular final blow. The intricate Shadowscapes 10 of Swords shows broken swords sinking beneath waves, hinting that recovery will follow despair.


Is the 10 of Swords a bad omen?

The 10 of Swords is challenging and painful card, often signaling betrayal or defeat. However it marks an ending and opening for renewal. It is a necessary transit, rather than purely bad.

Does 10 of Swords mean break up?

The 10 of Swords can often signify the painful ending of a relationship or marriage that has run its course. Recovery will follow eventually but the separation is difficult initially.

What does 10 of Swords mean in future position?

In the future position, the 10 of Swords warns a painful ending or loss is imminent. Prepare yourself emotionally and know that things will improve with time. It is darkest before the dawn.

Key Takeaways

  • The 10 of Swords represents pain, hardship, betrayal and endings. A difficult transit preceding renewal.
  • In relationships, this card signifies betrayal or painful separation. Recovery takes time.
  • In career and finances, it marks failure and unexpected losses but lessons are learned.
  • For health, it indicates illness before eventual improvement. Seek support.
  • Spiritually, it reflects a crisis of faith before renewed devotion later.
  • Despite its challenging nature, the 10 of Swords is about learning from necessary endings before rebirth.


The 10 of Swords is one of tarot’s most difficult and potent cards, signaling inescapable endings, pain and hardship. Yet this devastation always precedes renewal. Absorbing the lessons of loss enables you to pick yourself back up again wiser and stronger. There are always brighter days ahead if you embrace the dawn.

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