In the Minor Arcana, the Ten of Swords has two contradictory meanings. One is the final end – there is absolutely nothing beyond this point. The other meaning is to go through the end – seeing what is left after total annihilation, and moving beyond the end to a new beginning.
The Ten of Swords, as D.J. Conway presents it, differs slightly from the traditional R-W meaning. She writes, “The woman and her dragon companion have fought a good fight against the negative events of life, but are temporarily defeated despite their courage and skills.” The author continues, “Then the woman warrior and the dragon will draw upon deep reserves of energy from the four Elements and rise up to continue their spiritual energy.”
Conway’s version of the Ten of Swords reflects a transition rather than finality. The woman and dragon are severely wounded but not dead. Instead of an end, there is only a long period of struggle. This card reminds me of the saying, “I am hurt but not slain. Let me lay down and bleed awhile, and then I will rise and fight again.” (Originally from “The Child Ballads: 167A: Andrew Bartin”)
Without reading the author’s description, I would not have guessed that the distant rocks were for healing. Faint in the background, these stones only seem to be a part of the harshness of the Ten of Swords. The only indicator of hope for me is the yellow amongst the grey sky. (I wonder if this is a sunrise.)
My view of the Ten of Swords of the “Celtic Dragon Tarot” is one of waiting and constriction. The light green and grey tones indicate eventual healing but not the finality of death. At the moment all is dark and difficult, but there is hope and help in the future.
In the “Celtic Dragon Tarot”, both The Fool (0) and the Ten of Swords seem to be about hope and new cycles. Full of hope, the Fool stands at the crossroads of his spiritual journey. Anticipation and promise exude from this card, while hidden dangers lurk waiting for the Fool to commit a misstep.
Meanwhile, the Ten of Swords is the mature Fool with her dragon companions. In their travels, they were set upon by their enemies. They fought valiantly, but are sorely wounded. Hope lurks in the stones waiting for the two to seek their healing. Afterwards, they will rise as like Wounded Warriors to continue their journey, full of renewed wisdom and strength.
Bartlett, Sarah, “The Tarot Bible”, Sterling: New York, 2006.
Child, Francis, “The Child Ballads: 167A: Andrew Bartin”, Sacred Texts, 2011, http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/child/ch167.htm,
Conway, D.J. and Lisa Hunt, “The Celtic Dragon Tarot”, Llewellyn: St. Paul (MN), 2005.
Drury, Neville, “The Tarot Workbook”, Thunder Bay: San Diego, 2004.
Hart, Francene, “Sacred Geometry Oracle Deck”, Bear & Co.: Rochester (VT), 2001.