It’s not an easy day. In the Rider-Waite deck, the Ten of Swords is depicted by a person lying down with ten swords sticking out of her (or his) back. It looks like a day of bad karma catching up with us, a day when all the things we were worried about come to pass — or maybe just a day when we fear they will. But the Yoga Tarot (the deck I’m using for my Cards for the Day for the next few weeks) has something to teach us about this card and this position on the path. Here we see a yogi meditating, calm, centered in the heart chakra (green) and surrounded by objects that stand for the bringing together of what is above and what is below (trees with roots going down into the earth, waterfalls). And, as well, I’ve drawn this card reversed, not upright. Upside down, he is the same — but with a change of perspective, that’s all.
Though the day may be painful, we can bring together our highest ideals and aspirations, and the material needs of our family and environment into one place and one perspective, through the heart chakra, the chakra that brings together and creates a bridge from the lower chakras to the higher chakras. Though the day may be traumatic, any day that pushes us to connect with our heart chakra — and with our feelings of love and compassion for all others in the world — is actually doing us a favor.
What are we getting out of this rough day, really?
There is a tarot reference site that I love, Crystal Reflections, and Crystal Reflections says this about the reversed Ten of Swords: “By totally accepting defeat, what are you now free to do?”
This question could be an apt one for many kinds of defeat. If defeated in battle, you are now liberated from fighting, aren’t you? Can’t fight with ten sword wounds in you, unless you are a Musashi or a Gye Baek. If you have lost a lover, you are now free to love again. If you have lost the unfulfilling job that you hated, you are now free to find one that means something to you, or to create your own as an entrepreneur. Pain brings us liberation in all kinds of ways, and it also brings us flexibility, as we can see from the reversed Eight of Pentacles card that I drew to go with this Ten of Swords. Depending on how you look at the Yoga Tarot’s Eight of Pentacles, you can see a yogi in an extended backbend (upright), or in bow pose (reversed). Either way, this card shows us that though we may not be succeeding on a material level today, we are still laying the groundwork for future success by becoming strong and flexible and by focusing on our breath.