When I did my annual reading at Samhain, the Card I drew for the sign of Sagittarius was the 10 of Swords, possibly the least auspicious card in the deck. When I asked “how do I fix this?” I drew the 7 of Cups. The worst possible reading for these cards goes something like, “Your life is falling apart and there’s nothing you can do about it, so just pretend it isn’t happening.” The 10 of Swords also appeared in my annual reading as an underlying theme, and in my last full moon reading as the card for the 9th House.
The 10 of Swords is most often understood as a card about things falling apart. It is a card of death, dismemberment, and betrayal. And endings. Especially endings. Anthony Lewis’ Tarot Plain and Simple offers numerous keywords. First and foremost he describes the 10 of Swords as “Stabbed in the back.” and “The end of a cycle.” But as you dig into the keywords it gets a little more interesting. There are of course the expected tragedies: ruin; failure; defeat; separation; pain. There are also some that are a great deal more helpful to me in the moment: a decisive rupture; a forced change; an emotional cut off; a decision that alters your life; possible travel. His interpretation of the card’s “situation and advise” in in respect to the card is more helpful still: your plans are not working out; you may be feeling emotionally cut off; something has ended that may still concern you; a situation or relationship is coming to its irrevocable end, and you may be feeling on the threshold of depression because of your loss.
Then we get to the fun part. I don’t do reversed cards, but that doesn’t make those potential meanings go away: The worst is over; the end of a cycle and a new beginning. Emerging from a period of emotional turmoil, hurt, and sadness. The worst is over and your problems are beginning to resolve.
And while the Robin Wood deck doesn’t carry the Crowley meanings heavily, I think some of them are good to keep in mind: excessive reliance on the “rational” mind; collapse of unstable ideas and intellectual constructs; destruction of paradigms.
At first glance the 7 of Cups is an odd solution for anything: Lack of focus; a sense of confusion. If I were to choose two words that describe my understanding of this card in the Robin Wood deck it would be “delusion” and “distraction”. But looking deeper, there are some very helpful things going on here: emotion dominating rational thought (a particularly good counter to 10S); altered states; visions; significant dreams; psychic impressions. The card talks about making difficult, even impossible choices. Again, noting the “reversed” meanings: the fog lifts.
So I think I understand my 10 of Swords. My struggles with my ceremonial experiment have definitely been a major factor so far this “month”, and with my recent decision to slow that down and consolidate what I’ve already learned, I expect they will continue to do so—for the rest of the month, even the rest of the year. I have also become disenchanted with the roadmap I originally chose for that program of study. So we see the sudden stop, and particularly see the meaning of the 10S in my 9th House at the moon and (possibly) as an underlying theme for the year. I’ve also been trapped in the overly-cerebral world of academia-as-the-semester-ends, leaving my creative mind battered and neglected. And there are definitely some decisions that I’ve been putting off to the point where those decisions might just be made for me.
The 7 of Cups is a solid solution for many of these problems: magic, particularly dreams and visionary work. And I need to figure out what, exactly, it is that I want, and put that decision into action before it’s too late.