Surrender & Release: the Ten of Swords


The Ten of Swords is one of those cards that nobody likes to see. Particularly if a querent isn't familiar with the Tarot, or isn't familiar with the idea that all cards have positive AND negative qualities, this card can be super scary-- it certainly LOOKS negative, after all. It's someone lying on the ground with ten swords sticking out of their back. What's the positive side of that?!

But although the Ten of Swords DOES indicate you're having a rough time of it-- hopefully you're not literally wounded by swords, but maybe you're undergoing a breakup, or losing a job, or experiencing betrayal or loss-- that's not the whole story. Tens, in Tarot, are the ending and the beginning of a cycle. In fact, the whole deck is created of cycles. Once you reach the Ten, you start right back again at the Ace. (Have you heard of the Spiral Path? That's the idea that we evolve in spirals. So, you may come across the same issues, and you may feel you're repeating certain cycles, but each time, you've grown and matured. Each time the path you walk is larger, more expansive, and deeper. You're not moving in a circle, but in a spiral).

This means that the Ten of Swords is both an ending and a beginning. Whatever you've lost, it's the end of the story, meaning you will be able to start afresh once the pain of this card rolls away. That's why I see this card as the SURRENDER card; it's surrendering to the idea that whatever has been lost has indeed been lost. But once you accept that, once you accept defeat, and lay down, only then can the sun rise again (see that sunrise on the horizon?). Only then can you begin a new cycle. Only then can you start afresh.

When I pull this card, I ask, What do I need to surrender to? I hear people use the word "surrender" a lot in a very vague, trying-to-be-helpful-and-new-agey kind of way. "Just surrender," I've had people tell me. And i'm like, "What the frick does that mean?!" I don't want to live life in a constantly surrendered state, where I'm just laxly accepting everything that happens. I don't want to surrender if it means not sticking up for myself, or accepting bad treatment.

But this time around, for some reason, I saw "surrendering" in a new way--  not as a weak act of giving up, but a brave, uncomfortable act of accepting where you are RIGHT NOW. It reminds me of the idea of radical acceptance, which I learned from Kelly-Ann Maddox in this video. Radical acceptance, or surrender, doesn't mean you LIKE what's happening right now, but it means that you ACCEPT it, that you SEE it, that you're not pretending it's not there. After all, only when we really see where we are, can we act to change it.

So surrendering means stopping resisting our current reality and instead fully facing it. And that's the lesson I personally needed this week: to stop resisting. (Obviously, I don't mean political resistance- that we ALWAYS need. I'm talking about resistance to personal circumstances that I created for myself). I needed to just lay down, admit defeat, admit that I'd made mistakes and been stabbed by some metaphorical swords and just lie my damn self down on the beach to wait for morning.

And then another word came to mind, after surrender: RELEASE. For the first time I thought that this card is also a major release card. Because once you stop resisting, so much tension and pent-up energy and fruitless anger can melt away. And that in itself is worth it. To feel a freeing up of your emotional energy, to stop fighting-- it eases the tension in your muscles and lets you finally relax.

When I get anxious, I picture sticking myself with knives. I know, sorry, gruesome, but the image helps. (Don't worry, I only visualize it). Something about the idea of RELEASING all that is pent up is so appealing. So that's another dimension to this card; once all the swords have been stabbed into the figure's back, the blood flowing out is the release. The tension has been punctured; the old stuff can flow out.

What can you surrender to, and what might it release?

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I was just watching a video by Naha Armady before this, and she mentioned how the series of the Eight, Nine, and Ten of Swords is so brutal: it's fear, anxiety, and defeat, after all. She mused that these three cards in a row show what happens when we DON'T release stuff. When we don't release, the problem just gets worse and worse, until we're lying on the metaphorical beach with swords in our back, admitting defeat and waiting for a brand-new cycle to begin.

So, release, folks. Let the old flow away into the sea, and tomorrow you can begin anew, a fresh new cycle. You had to go through the Ten to get back to the start.

Blessed be! xx