Ten of Swords tarot card

Ten of Swords Tarot Meanings

The card of betrayal, end, & failure.

Last Updated: April 16, 2024.

The Ten of Swords is the tenth card in the Suit of Swords (also known as the suit of blades) and one of the fifty-six suit cards from the minor arcana. In divinatory tarot, the Suit of Swords is associated with thought, intellect, mental strength, and integrity. They can also represent conflict, hardship, and misfortune.

Divination practices such as cartomancy can help us make decisions, offer guidance, and help us tune into our intuition when we are at a crossroads in our lives. Understanding the meanings of each tarot card can help you sharpen your interpretative skills so you can get the most out of your readings.

The Ten of Swords carries very heavy energy. It is an eye-catching card in the deck. 

In this article, we will discuss the meanings of the Ten of Swords in various tarot reading contexts as well as the different symbols and nuances that can be found within this court card.

Table of Contents

Pictorial Symbolism in the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck

The artworks from the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck contain deeper esoteric meanings that tarotists love to decipher. 

The Ten of Swords card has a black background, similar to the Nine of Swords. A black sky in the background is there as a symbol of death and the hopelessness associated with it. But the first rays of sunshine are already rising at the horizon, promising a new beginning.

Ten of Swords Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck

Underneath the sky, the dead person is lying facing the soil. This signifies that the betrayed person did not see their death coming. The ten swords are stabbed into his back and there is blood in the picture. The swords are also not drilled very deeply into his body, which suggests that he had to endure an agonizing ordeal until his death.

The person is covered with a red cloth from the chest to the legs. The Ten of Swords seems to suggest that this is the lowest point in a person’s life and it cannot get any worse. At least the Sun rises in this state. Behind the person, there is a lot of water. Water is a symbol of life, a sign that everything flows, and that emotions have us surrounded. Water and mountains are showing hope, faith, and belief.

The Ten of Swords key correspondences

Upright keywords

Sacrifice, trauma, betrayal, separation, mental breakdown, negative thinking, bitchiness, sorrow, pain

Reversed keywords

Recovery, opportunity, resilience, surviving a disaster, fears coming true

Yes or No



10 (X)



Ruling Planet


Astrological Sign

Gemini, Sun in Gemini, June 11th to June 20th

What does the upright Ten of Swords mean in the Tarot?

The Ten of Swords symbolizes change, a period of great turmoil, struggle, uncertainty, and loss. It signifies a period of sleepless nights, fear, insecurity, and worry. Big changes will shake up your everyday life. The card shows betrayal and backstabbing. Someone may have been used and betrayed, and now feels disappointed or frustrated. Despite the situation, there is learning in this experience.

The positive side of this card is that after failure, there is a new sunny day. Soon comes a period in which you will feel free and happy.

Upright Ten of Swords

When pulled in the upright position, the Ten of Swords is associated with sacrifice, trauma, betrayal, separation, mental breakdown, negative thinking, sorrow, and pain.

What does the upright Ten of Swords mean in a love reading

As for love, this card is unfortunately not a good sign. The person should ask themself certain questions, accept reality and not close their eyes to the truth. It is not possible to force someone to love and treat you with respect. If you have recently met someone new, do not jump into something very fast. You do not know the person and whether you should trust them right away. You will meet many who seem different from what they are. 

In the love tarot, the Ten of Swords reveals to you that you are currently in a personal life crisis that has a direct impact on your search for a partner. It is important to clear your head and understand your heart first. Maybe you are forcing it to find a new partner. Things will happen when it is the right time. 

If you are in a relationship, the Ten of Swords is a bad omen. Unfortunately, it signifies a significant betrayal in the relationship and bad times ahead. Healing from this situation will depend on the partner, and whether the partner recognizes the mistake. Gaining back trust can be very difficult. Other than that, you may feel that you have to carry all the partner’s problems which makes you suffer even more in this relationship.

What does the upright Ten of Swords mean in a career reading?

The appearance of this card signals that your work represents situations that will come to an end. At that point, you should think about what you will do if you lose your job. Maybe you were treated badly by your colleagues or boss. 

Another aspect of the Ten of Swords is that you are the victim of intrigue. Some colleagues talk bad about you behind your back and try to damage your reputation. Do not waste your time and energy on planning revenge – focus on moving forward to the next phase of your life.

If you are looking for a job, you may lose hope to find one. In terms of money, you can be disappointed. Try to think logically and rationally and follow the financial situation. As much as your job seems safe, be careful. Ask yourself where the breakdown could happen, and be prepared for a bad situation. 

Professionally, the Ten of Swords reveals that burnout may come.  A break is needed to regain your strength. In addition, you should focus on your work attitude in the long term so that you can better manage your energies in the future.

The Ten of Swords as feelings/emotions

This card represents the feeling of being backstabbed and hurt. It is usually not a good sign if we are asking what someone feels for us. Additionally, the card can show us that the person is overthinking a situation. Maybe even being too dramatic about it. 

When it comes to feelings, the card is usually interpreted negatively. Nevertheless, sometimes it can predict the ending of a bad situation. All the negative feelings will be finally processed and released. Sometimes a person can be overwhelmed by feelings. 

This card is an invitation to take a break and understand yourself. The card announces the time of healing.

The Ten of Swords as a person

As a personality archetype, the Ten of Swords represents someone who is an intellectual person. It may be someone who likes to gossip and shows self-sabotaging behaviours. The card signifies that an individual may be overly dramatic. They represent their failure or problems as the end of the world, even when it is a small drama. They want to be happy and they are a hardworking person.

They may be somewhat unpredictable. They have either great memory capacity or it’s completely blanked out by trauma, so they are unable to retain lots of new information.

The Ten of Swords as advice

Tarot card Ten of Swords is usually interpreted negatively, however, it does not always necessarily mean that tomorrow is the end of the world. The card asks you to be cautious about whom you give your trust. Whenever one door closes, life opens many more for us. It is only important to be able to see. Life will lead us to situations that are better for us. 

Through this collapse, you find your way back to earth, become more insightful and can follow a consistent, new path with the rising sun. The turning point is coming or it is already here. Now you have the opportunity to rearrange many things. 

The fight ends and something new begins.

What is the zodiac or astrological sign associated with the Ten of Swords?

There are many different associations of this card with astrology. However, the most common one is Uranus in Gemini. Uranus is the planet of sudden change, disruption and rebellion as well. In terms of tarot timing, we have June 11th to June 20th, and the Sun in Gemini shines brightly on the way you will be thinking about things moving forward.

Is the Ten of Swords a yes or no card?

The Ten of Swords is a definite no card. Look to other cards in a spread to find clarity in your query.

Below are some of my interpretations, as an experienced tarot practitioner, based on different types of questions:

  • Will I get the job? No. This is not the job for you right now.
  • Is this new person in my life good for me? No. It is difficult to trust this person and it’s best to focus on yourself right now.
  • Will I achieve my current goals? Not now. It’s possibly for the best that right now you don’t achieve those goals, either.
  • Should I start my own business? No. The card indicates a financial loss, as well as the stress, may be overwhelming for you. Why not focus on other avenues of self-discovery and development for a while?

What does the reversed Ten of Swords mean in the Tarot?

The reversed card of the Ten of Swords symbolizes that after every crisis we go through, there is also a new opportunity. Every serious crisis throws our life upside down and makes chaos. However, it brings new experiences that can be used to have the best possible outcome that lies ahead of you. 

The reversed Ten of Swords indicates that we need rest. Maybe we have been through a lot recently. Now is the time to relax. The card turned in this way symbolizes disbelief, shock, consequences of previous behaviour, crisis, separation and completion, inner conflict and turmoil. 

You will emerge from this period of suffering with excellent results.

Reverse Ten of Swords

When pulled in the reversed position, the Ten of Swords is linked with Recovery, opportunity, resilience, surviving a disaster, and fears coming true.

What does the reversed Ten of Swords mean in a love reading?

As a single, the reversed card of the Ten of Swords shows you that after a difficult relationship, new chances in love will arise. Especially when you come out of a very stressful relationship, you will be able to see more clearly what kind of partner you want and who you prefer to stay away from. The reversed Ten of Swords is also a sign that you should recover after a failed partnership.

In a partnership, the reversed Ten of Swords can symbolize that you are very resilient as a couple to difficult life events. You have already gone through many ups and downs together and have never lost love or trust in each other. 

However, this card can signify a difficult time and your way towards healing. The negative feelings after a bad relationship may still be there.

What does the inverted Ten of Swords mean in a career reading?

The reversed Ten of Swords invites us to see our professional failures as new possibilities. If we have lost our job, it allows us to find a new and better one. You may find a job that suits your strengths and potential much better and that you would never have found it before.

Additionally, it is important to take a break from work because the reversed Ten of Swords indicates stress at work and being pushed over limits.


In conclusion, the Ten of Swords tarot card is a powerful symbol of sacrifice, trauma, betrayal, separation, mental breakdown, negative thinking, sorrow, and pain. When this card appears in your reading, it is often a sign that a difficult time may be ahead. It is important to remember that no matter how dark and hopeless things may seem, the sun will always rise again. With patience and resilience, you can work through any challenge that comes your way.

Despite its association with mysticism and occultism, the tarot has grown to become much more than a simple “fortune-telling” tool. For many tarot practitioners, it is a complex system made of symbolic imagery and psychological considerations (Jungian archetypes for example) that can be used for self-exploration, meditation, and personal transformation.

The 56 lesser arcana cards relate to the day-to-day events of our lives, the more mundane aspects of our existence. Even though that part of the tarot is about the “smaller picture”, it symbolizes the constant choices we make that shape our lives, our characters, and ultimately our destinies.

Have you ever had a reading where the 10 Of Swords appeared? What was the outcome? What does that card mean to you personally? How do you interpret this card in your own tarot practice?

Share your thoughts and experiences with me in the comments below.

Additionally, If you want to know more about the different tarot cards, feel free to check out my complete list of all 78 tarot cards and their meanings.


I have been reading Tarot for more than 15 years. I have always enjoyed using my intuition to provide clarity and insights to others. Tarot is one of my favorite forms of divination, and I love sharing that passion with like-minded folks.

Learn more about the Suit of Swords

This page is part of our comprehensive list of the 56 minor arcana tarot cards & their meanings. If you enjoyed the read, then you’ll love the following articles.