intellectual exhaustion

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Intro: Ten of Swords Tarot Card Meaning - intellectual exhaustion

Tarot Alley uses the Rider Waite type of deck for our meanings, symbols, interpretations, etc.

When determining the Ten of Swords tarot card meaning, you should consider that it’s a Swords card and a Ten. The Suit of Swords represents knowledge and intellect. Tens represent exhaustion, finality, and completion.

In this way, we can determine that the Ten of Swords represents intellectual exhaustion.

Take a look at the Rider-Waite Ten of Swords displayed to the left (or above).

What is your first impression?

What happened here? Why? Is the sun rising or setting?

There’s no right or wrong answer here, just your interpretation.

Astrology: Sun in Gemini
Element: Air
Numerology: 10 (completion, exhaustion, finality)

Common Symbols

  • A Stabbed Person: to represent enlightenment through trials. It’s no coincidence that the original image depicts being stabbed through the chakras although many modern decks do not maintain this symbolism.
  • Sunset/Sunrise: regardless of whether you see a sunrise or a sunset (although what you see is pretty telling about your frame of mind) this represents some kind of change.

Keywords & Concepts

  • Exhaustion
  • Disaster
  • Obsession
  • Stamina
  • Ruin

The Ten of Swords for Personal Growth

Affirmation: When my limits are exceeded, I take action on my own behalf.

Sometimes you just can’t avoid failure. It’s unfortunate, but it can also be an excellent teacher. Of course, you should try to fix the situation before you hit rock bottom but sometimes it’s too late.

When you reach the lowest of lows, accept the consequences, resolve to do better in the future, and start making amends.

Ask Yourself:

  • What are the signs that the time for debate is over?
  • How can you tell when interest has given way to obsession?
  • When your own limits are reached, where can you turn for aid?
  • How might your current situation contain the seeds of a turnaround?
  • In your situation, is there a way to extract a life lesson from the trial you’re facing? If so, what would the lesson be? (Hint: 99% of the time there IS something to learn)

Interpreting the Ten of Swords

Generally, the Ten of Swords represents intellectual exhaustion.

It’s time to give in to the need for rest. You cannot become renewed and refreshed without it!

You’ve reached your limit. You’re maxed out. You just can’t keep going like this. You’ve reached the bottom. It’s time to turn things around. On the bright side, the worst is over so there’s really nowhere to go but up.

The Reversed Ten of Swords

How you read reversals is a personal choice. You can ignore reversals and read them as if the card is upright (this is what I often choose to do) or you can interpret reversals as variations of what they would mean upright. There are 3 common ways to read reversals: as a negative interpretation, as an opposite interpretation, or as a block on the upright interpretation. Check out How to Read Reversals for more information.

Typically, a reversed Ten of Swords represents an overload. Examples include:

  • Driving yourself past the point of total exhaustion by refusing to rest.
  • Having a mental breakdown
  • Obsessing about a problem to an extremely unhealthy degree
  • Giving up
  • Experiencing deeply unhealthy thoughts

Examples of the Ten of Swords

Specific Interpretations

Specific situations are the general interpretation (from above) used for a specific situation (love, career, etc). There is no need to memorize these (or even look them up) if you understand the general interpretation. However, here are some basic interpretations for some specific situations:


A healthy relationship does not require self-harm or self-destruction. What logic are you using to justify continuing in a harmful relationship?


Know when to say enough is enough. Taking on more work and responsibility is not an answer. Be honest about your limits to prevent a future breakdown.


It’s hard to maintain spirituality when you feel broken. Search within yourself for just one thing to be thankful for. By finding that one positive thing, it can encourage you to find another and might just be the key to turn things around.

the Ten of Swords Tarot Card Meaning

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The Ten of Swords tarot card meaning is all about intellectual exhaustion. When you reach your breaking point, step back to avoid a break down.

Once you feel comfortable with the Ten of Swords tarot card meaning, check out the next card in the tarot deck: the Page of Swords Tarot Card Meaning.


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