This is probably one of the scariest (or at least painful-looking) looking cards of the minor arcana, at least with the classic Rider-Waite artwork…you see a black sky with a dead man lying face down by a body of water, with ten swords sticking out of his back. Yikes! Other decks show just plain ten swords…as “pips”, like you might see the clubs on a modern ten of clubs cards.
Either way, the message is the Devil card’s kinder cousin…bad things can and do happen. This card is more the “now what” half rather than the “look out” half of that concept.
“Into each life a little rain must fall” as the adage goes. So then what? Adages abound, and THAT is the part this card emphasizes, over-the-top artwork or not. “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade” as is said. Or the Japanese proverb invoked during the Tsunami a few years back “Fall down seven times – get up eight”
Having ten swords sticking out of your back, metaphorically speaking, is a painful experience. No one is saying you have to be happy about adversity, but there are different ways to deal with it when it does indeed come. Do you give up and stay face down in the mud, or do you try your best to stand up again? As Richard Bach reminds us, “there is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands”
Not everyone can get up on their own. Being as injured as the guy in the Rider-Waite deck is not something you bounce back from easily. So there is a secondary message here…what do you do when you come across a scene like this? Do you have what it takes to help a fallen comrade stand up? Or at least yell for the medic?
Bad things happen. Change comes, and sometimes things don’t go back to the way they were (see how that resonates with some of the traditional undertones of Halloween?) BUT how do you react to change and adversity? Do you stay flat, or do you try to stand?
This card is the highest number card of swords…swords, the ones that really work in combat, were always flexible and resilient, which is part of the lesson here.
Wishing you all the resilience you need, at the time you need it.