June 2019 Tarot Card Astrology: Ten of Swords
The Sun will play the role of the Ten of Swords: Sun in Gemini, completing its journey through the final decan of that sign. This time period brings a conclusion of the spring season, starting at the vernal equinox in March, and prepares us for the beginning of summer at the solstice. Considered a difficult card, the Ten of Swords does not at first glance seem to fit its astrological association. As a rule it indicates finality, failure, depression, anxiety, and stress. The astrological context places this card at a low point in an interesting cycle worth understanding. Please visit all the articles in this series on tarot card astrology, including my previous article on this decan.
Ten of Swords: Sun in Gemini
- The Ten of Swords is titled “Ruin.” This card indicates finality, failure, procrastination, dissipation, depression, anxiety, and stress.
- The Sun represents the most essential part of your personality around which all other aspects of you orbit. It rules truth, honesty, your own blazing brilliance, your authentic self, and your higher self. The Sun is where we shine. The Sun rules the sign of Leo and finds its exaltation in Aries.
- Gemini is a mutable air sign ruled by Mercury. It is considered social, loquacious, adaptable, witty, quick-thinking, and mercurial. Its symbol is the twins. Its glyph looks like the Roman numeral II.
- Ten of Swords: The Sun ruling the third decan of Gemini
- The calendar dates, when the Sun passes through this decan each year, are approximately June 11-20.
- The exact dates and times that the Sun will move through the final portion of Gemini this year are June 10, 2019 at 11:00 p.m. until June 21, 2019 9:53 a.m.
- Best times for ritual work: Although the time period of this decan is passed this year, if you’d like to work with the Sun the best times are Sundays at dawn, for the day and hour of the Sun.
Sun in Gemini
Chatty, fun, smart, social, Sun in Gemini people shine when they are interacting, learning, and entertaining. They are attentive to the fresh and new, while inattentive to anything they’ve already figured out. They obsess on what intrigues them, but as soon as the next flash catches their eye, they easily jump away. Acute fascination dissolves into listless ennui just as quickly as clouds blot out the sun.
The Sun’s annual passage through Gemini marks the giddy season as spring peaks into summer. The days reach into the night as if trying to grasp the stars. Indecisive weather strives to taste everything in the meteorological candy store. Fickle flowers bud, bloom, and die and you almost missed them. Everything is too fast and nearly lost.
Gemini is a mutable sign, transitioning out of spring into summer. The sign’s ruler, Mercury, is known for quick, darting movement. He transgresses boundaries. He zips past the familiar to meet the new. On the other hand, the Sun is stately, steady, direct. Mercury is advisor to the solar monarch. He cocks his head to collect gossip then buzzes back to the ear of the king. He never travels too far from his employer. Somehow everything of interest comes to him. When the Sun processes through Mercury’s sign, it is with all the attendance and pomp the best planner can provide.
Image of the Ten of Swords
The figure in the Ten of Swords lies prone on the dirt, head turned away from the viewer, one arm extended. A red blanket or covering drapes the lower half of the figure, reminiscent of the red cloth the Empress sits on, as well as the red banner of the Sun card. He is pierced from neck to hip with ten double-edged, straight bladed swords. The figure rests in the bottom quarter of the card, while the swords extend in the middle half of the card. Behind the swords is seen a lake tinged blood red from a sun that has already set. Above the lake are blue hills, then yellow sky, then gray and black clouds. The top fourth of the card above the sword hilts is solid black. The dreary atmosphere contributes to the dismal feeling of the card.
The basic image is straight-forward, signifying the end of something. I’ve heard the card successfully interpreted as “stabbed in the back,” pursue acupuncture, or seek out chiropractic for spinal alignment. Andy Boroveshengra, of the now-defunct Andybctarot on WordPress, asserted that because swords are associated with the element water (a common European association), the overabundance of blades signifies a flood, the waters pictured in the card. The English and American correlation of Swords to the element air and the mind or decisions, often create meanings for the higher Sword suit cards, such as the eight, nine, and ten, as being too much in the head, overthinking, or “paralysis by analysis.” This card usually comes up for my clients to indicate depression, anxiety, or stress (see my post on Difficult Cards for more info).
The Red Cloak
I find the red cloak to be an interesting symbol. Although many figures in the tarot are dressed in red, I’m particularly drawn to three characters. The Empress sits on a piece of red fabric. One of the figures falling from the Tower wears a red cape. The flag held by the child in the Sun card is red. I always imagined the red fabric in the Empress card to be symbolic of the menses, the life blood representative of generation. Likewise, the vigorous solar energy of the Sun card can be summed up in the swirling red streamer. On the other hand, our prostrate figure could be the end result of the tumble off the Tower. The red cloak in this card definitely gives the impression of the life force seeping away. If only there were a way to bring that warmth back into the body.
The Sun Gesture
One student asked me if I had ever noticed that the man is holding his hand in the gesture of the Hierophant. I said that I hadn’t. And I still don’t see the papal gesture — index and middle fingers extended, ring finger and pinky bent down to the palm, thumb to the side — in the loose fingers. But the comment made me wonder about various Indian hand gestures, called mudras. To me, it looks as if the index and middle finger are extended, and the thumb is holding down the ring finger. The pinky is bent at a right angle. I wondered if this could be a traditional mudra.
I researched a variety of mudras from the yoga tradition and found something very interesting. Most sites call this the Agni mudra, or fire hand position. Most sites also equate the Agni mudra with the Surya mudra. But the Agni mudra specifically touches the thumb to the middle phalanx of the ring finger, the tip of the ring finger touching the base of the thumb. One site I visited differentiated between the Surya mudra and the Agni mudra. According to this site, the Surya gesture holds the ring finger at the upper phalanx, as shown in the image of the Ten of Swords. Surya means Sun. A very interesting coincidence for our Ten of Swords: Sun in Gemini! The Surya mudra balances fire in the body, increases metabolism, and reduces anxiety. Sounds like a very useful mudra to use to counteract this card!
Title of the Ten of Swords: Ruin
Ruin is the tell-it-like-it-is title of the Ten of Swords. Curiously, the word “ruin” derives from a root meaning “to fall.” This heightens the equation to the red-cloaked man diving from the Tower. Just like the setting sun, there is a descent inherent to this card. Whether a psychological descent into melancholy or despondency, or a physical descent into destruction or loss, our hopes sink with this card.
The Astrology of the Ten of Swords: Sun in Gemini
I think everyone who has studied the astrological decans and the tarot cards agrees that this particular correspondence is one of the most contradictory. The Sun is bright and warm. Gemini is friendly and optimistic. The Sun in Gemini is an outgoing, positive placement. But the card image is opposite that.
Aleister Crowley attributes a different astrological correspondence to this card. The card image shows the Sun glyph over the symbol of the scales for Libra, while at the bottom of the card the lunar crescent of the sword hilt stands on a box that has the appearance of the Roman numeral II Gemini glyph. It would seem that the card references Sun in Libra and Moon in Gemini. Certainly the Sun in Libra, the fall equinox and the beginning of the six-month period when the nights are all longer than the days, would seem a more appropriate correspondence for the card. Interestingly, his Book of Thoth only references the Sun in Gemini attribution.
Austin Coppock in 36 Faces explains the disparity ingeniously. He suggests that since this decan leads into the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, it represents the culmination and completion of the Sun’s annual power. The ten days of the last decan of Gemini are the longest days of the year, peaking at the summer solstice on the first degree of the first decan of Cancer. Coppock goes on to relate the height of power and subsequent defeat to the Brother Battle mythology, in which Gemini-like twins alternately overthrow one another.
Mythology of the Ten of Swords
In one version of the brother battle story, the Oak King and Holly King fight for the crown. The Oak King rules the waxing half of the year, from Winter Solstice through Summer Solstice and the increase of daylength. The Holly King rules the waning half of the year. In the battle, the Oak King reaches his highest power, the Summer Solstice, at which time he is overthrown by the newly born Holly King. The Holly King’s strength then grows as the days get darker, and he in turn is overthrown at the Winter Solstice, when his power must begin to decline. The point of fullest success defines the point of decline. Complete victory is a one-way ticket to ruin.
On the other hand, the sunset and Sun mudra illustrated in the card remind us of the value of cycles. Daily, the Sun rises, peaks, sets, and descends through total darkness. But this process is reflected in an annual process as well, as the Sun ascends towards long, warm, bright days during this last decan of Gemini, and descending into low, weak, glaring days at the end of Sagittarius leading into the shortest day of the year at the Winter Solstice. The Sun is always born anew. The Sun always rises and returns. Likewise, daily defeats can still grow into annual victories. And annual defeats undoubtedly will come back to give us a second chance.
Ritual for Ten of Swords: Sun in Third Decan of Gemini
If you would like to work with the Sun, I’ve outlined a general ritual and a candle magic ritual, the latter utilizing a color breathing meditation. I’ll provide the correspondences for you and let you develop your own ritual based on our previous examples.
Statement of Intention for Ten of Swords: Sun in Gemini
Although this is not the type of card you might choose to embody, nevertheless it can inspire some very useful magical intentions you can use in your planetary workings for the Ten of Swords: Sun in Gemini. Let these inspire your own unique affirmations or petitions.
- Let me release that which is no longer needed and which holds me back
- May my scattered thoughts find a clear direction and focus
- Allow me to gather and concentrate my life force for health and well-being
- Help me to recognize my defeat in each of my victories, and my victory in defeat
- Remind me that I can still win major victories despite small defeats
- This chance is not lost and the opportunity for achievement will cycle around again
- Orphic Hymn to Helios; the Homeric Hymn here; prayer to Helios, or Meditation on the Path of Resh here (scroll down to the section “Sun Hymn or Prayer”)
- Color: yellow or gold
- Number: 6
- Incense: Frankincense, acacia, olibanum, cinnamon, copal
- Stones and Metals: topaz, tiger eye, citrine, gold
- Symbols: Lion, phoenix, cross of six squares
- Beverage: Chamomile tea
- Food and Flavors: Anything spiced or flavored with Sun-ruled plants, herbs, or spices, or expressing Solar attributes, such as as yellow color, blooms at dawn, ripens at the summer solstice, or looks like an eye. Chamomile, rosemary, saffron, sunflower, walnuts, honey, oranges. Baklava.
What has your experience with the Ten of Swords been? Please share in the comments!
Joy Vernon is widely recognized by tarot professionals as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup has grown into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher at Isis Books. To learn more, please visit JoyVernon.com.