Well, I figured since I’ve brought up this guy in my previous posts enough times, I may as well give him the spotlight. After all, he’s been through enough and has kinda earned it, don’t you think?
Mr. 10 of Swords is the only minor arcana to be member of the “scary card” club and is actually more gruesome on the outside than he is on the inside…which is kind of ironic since most of his insides are on the outside, but that’s beside the point. The reason why I can’t resist bringing this card up as some kind of example is because yes, he’s gory and gross and sad and just a mess, but there’s really a punch line if you know where to look. New readers can’t seem to resist associating the body on the beach with “pain and suffering” when there is absolutely no question that the poor guy is dead.
In fact, he’s really dead! Seriously, one sword would’ve done the trick – no, actually one knife would’ve done the trick and this guy’s got no less than ten 3 – foot blades sticking into bones. Oh no…the pain and suffering has been long gone.
The 10 of Swords is the only card in the deck that means absolute Finality.
My friend and highly respected “sister-in-cards,” Ms. Ginny Hunt, wrote a terrific piece a while ago regarding the mechanics and association of fear and tarot http://78notes.blogspot.com/2013/05/fear-taming-our-overprotective-guard-dog.html and in the social network discussion that followed, she had very astutely appointed this card as the “drama queen” of the deck. Why? Very simply, as I said, whoever got the best of this guy really outdid themselves because one blade would’ve very easily put him down. But, to use 10, that’s…OVERKILL!
10 of Swords says, “Whatever it is, it’s done. It’s really done. You’re beating a dead horse, milking a Coke machine, and looking for a Coup Deville at the bottom of a Cracker Jack Box. Time get over it. Now.”
That’s the big picture. But, he’s actually got a lot more to say.
Consider the circumstances: It’s cloudy, moonless night. He’s lying on a remote beach somewhere. He’s fully clothed, in fact, well dressed in most decks. What was he doing there in the first place? Was he waiting for someone? Was he taking a romantic stroll or a shortcut to his destination? There are no belongings around him, so was he robbed?
This is a very curious death, as it is undeniably, incredibly personal. Any criminologist would instantly speculate that any multiple stab victim either knew his assailant(s) intimately or provoked them in such a manner to cause tremendous emotional distress, even mania. Whether or not that provocation was intended, 10 of swords also reminds us to take responsibility for our actions.
No one, no matter how crazy, would go through that much trouble and risk hurting themselves in the process if they didn’t really mean it!
Another piece of the 10 of Sword puzzle is the way he was stabbed, not to mention the weapons, themselves. What happened to him was very purposeful. This was no accident, which is a very poignant fact to deliberate when reading this card. There is no “whoops” here. Someone or some persons managed to get this man on the ground and stab him no less than 10 times…
But doesn’t the criminal usually wipe and take the weapon back when they’re done with it? What would be the purpose of not only leaving the body, but leaving the swords?
In some circumstances, (not often but it does happen), this card can be interpreted as “Sacrifice.” After all, this could’ve very easily have been a ritual. On the other hand, it may also be possible that the murderer(s) were so spooked by their viciousness, they could’ve just bolted. In either case, this card can also instrumentally advise the querant to let go of the material links between themselves and their “white whale.”
And who’s to say that it wasn’t your client that could’ve done the “crime?” Not all querants are victims. Very possible they could’ve made a harsh judgment prematurely and therefore left something valuable behind while causing irrevocable damage…
And, at last, the tremendous wit — yes wit — of the thing. The 10 of Swords, among other things, is also one of the very few cards in the deck that can actually be read literally:
Getting stabbed in the back.
Tarot. Gotta love it!