Understanding Tarot: The Tens of the Minor Arcana

Cards Pictured are from the Rider Waite Tarot Deck

The Understanding Tarot series is written by Claire Chilvers. If you would like to read more of Claire’s articles or book a tarot reading, please visit www.clairechilvers.com or follow her at – @ClaireChilversTarot

Completion with the Tens

We have arrived at the end of our Minor Arcana adventures and with these number ten cards, we receive the gift that we were promised so long ago when the suits magically appeared in the sky. 

When I began writing these articles, I suggested that we all pick the Ace that resonated with us the most.

Take a look at these four number ten pictures now. Are you happy with how your chosen journey has ended? Does the scene depicted in your card resonate with the lessons that you have learned along the way?

The tens are summarising what it was that you needed to achieve to move forward in line with your soul’s path.

Each suit has given us trials, tribulations, lessons, and enlightenment and these final cards are reminding us how hard we have worked to complete this particular cycle.

No matter what the picture looks like, this is a chance to acknowledge and be proud of far you have come. 

As many of my clients know, when I offer tarot readings my guides often deliver songs or well-known film scenes in my head to portray a message or describe a situation.

As I pondered what to write for this final chapter, songs began playing in my head for each suit which, I think, sum up beautifully the messages that they have aimed to teach us. 

If ever there was a dramatic ending to a cycle it is displayed in the shocking finale of the Ten of Swords. When this card appears in a reading it is often met with a gasp because, in all honesty, no one wants to be put in this position, do they?

Ten of Swords

Throughout this journey the swords have never caused actual harm to a person, but, here we see the true intention of their invention – swords were created for causing harm.

But, within the Tarot, they symbolise our thoughts and the thoughts of others around us.

Consequently, this shocking scene is suggesting to us that the thoughts within our own mind, or sometimes the people who have influence over our minds have done this damage. Surely that isn’t possible, is it?

Well, for anyone who has lived through the swords journey they will no doubt be shouting an empathic ‘Yes’ to that question. 

The promise of the Swords was to give mental clarity and a rising up to another level of consciousness. Here are the results of that happening – this is final realisation that things can no longer carry on the way they are.

I mentioned before that swords are double-edged. As the harsh truth is now prominent and there is an acceptance that a way of life that our mind has become accustomed to is dying, the man lying on the floor has his head turned towards the horizon. We are reminded that even in this dark situation there is an opportunity to look to a brighter dawn which is approaching. 

The Ten of Swords is often compared to the Death card as it has a finality about it that is inevitable. But, with the Minor Arcana, this is often an internal shift rather than one that descends upon us. 

Taking a decision to end a toxic relationship with a partner, friend, or even a job that is causing you unhappiness can all be the moment where we say to ourselves that this way of life can no longer carry on. However, our own thoughts and behaviour can be what needs this abrupt ending and a fresh new start as we can feel just like the person in this card by constantly battling with crippling depression, anxiety, dependency on drugs or alcohol, or even self-harm. 

The most positive aspect of this card is that it signifies the moment when this cycle is ending and accepting this is the first step of accepting the gift that was offered by this journey; a clearer mind free from the mental anguish that is relentlessly swirling around our minds. 

A brighter future may have seemed impossible at the start of the journey. The swords have been challenging, but, the difficult lessons have been completed and now it is time to look ahead.

The song I have chosen to sum up the gift that was offered by completing the swords journey is No More Drama by Mary J Blige. The lyrics and video sum up the Ten of Swords ending beautifully as well as reminding everyone what a testing time the whole journey can be.

The Ten of Cups

The Cups gave us an emotional rollercoaster of a journey and the promise of understanding, and being in control of, all the emotions that we experience throughout our life.

This journey has certainly had its ups and downs, but, it was completed early in the Nine of Cups as a happy, contented man sat in appreciation of his own self.

At the penultimate stage of this journey, understanding the importance of self-love was the catalyst to move effortlessly to this final stage.

This Ten of Cups’ scene is a joyous one and in it we see reminders of the past. The river is still flowing as it has been since we decided to dive into it when the Ace of Cups appeared. The children who we saw in the Six of Cups are happily playing and our Two of Cups’ lovers are together again. 

The cups in this card are not owned by any one person but shining high in the sky giving the impression that love is all around, the underlying message that all the cups bring to us.

Having the benefit of hindsight and remembering how our emotions made us feel, gives the opportunity to acknowledge how love moved us out of the darker periods of our life on to something better.

For instance, those who look back at a period of grief they encountered can perhaps see how the love of their extended family and friends may have helped them move out of the darkness and now have much to feel thankful for.

When looking back at a crossroads or turning point that has occurred, it may have been the feelings from your soul that you deserved to be happy and loved which spurred you on to make the right choices for your path. 

The Cups teach us that love shouldn’t be feared and no one is excluded from the experience.

Of course, this card does not guarantee that life will always be happy and rosy, as I mentioned earlier, the cups are linked to the water signs and they are a constant, fluid, ever-changing force.

But, that does not mean they are out of control. By reaching the Ten of Cups we have earned the knowledge to understand how to go with the flow and work with the emotions that drift into our lives in a positive way that serves us better.

The song that I have chosen to symbolise the journey and completion of the Cups journey is All You Need is Love by The Beatles. A song with a beautiful message even more poignant as it is sung by a man who was taken from the world in such a tragic way.

But, although he is no longer with us, his words have been passed down from generation to generation almost as if they had been passed around in one of the golden cups that brightens up this journey’s end.

The Ten of Wands

The Ten of Wands can seem like an unfair ending for the fast-paced, adventure-seeking souls who took up the challenge of this journey. This does not feel like the final destination has been reached as the houses and trees are in the distance and there is no obvious welcoming committee as we have seen previously in the Four and Six of Wands. 

But, even at the start of this journey when we looked at the terrain ahead there was the inkling of an idea that this journey could continue forever and the adventure could never stop. 

For those who found the wands the most enticing of the suits the idea of being on an adventure that lasts a lifetime might sound like an amazing opportunity.

The wands portray life itself and the process of participating in it. Life can be exhilarating and exhausting in equal measures.

In the enthusiasm to experience life, we can forget to look after ourselves. The Ten of Wands is not suggesting we stop walking our path, but, giving the advice that we may want to look at what we are choosing to drag along with us!

There have been warnings and lessons to be learned all along the wands journey about the consequences of not creating good boundaries for ourselves during our lifetime. We have seen the cost of that in the Five, Seven, and Nine of Wands, showing these can impact our relationships, creative pursuits, or even our health if we carry on regardless. The downside to a journey based on taking action is there has not always been sufficient time set aside to plan or think things through. 

The Ten of Wands is a sign of success (after all the man in the picture has managed to obtain all ten wands on offer) but this card is also highlighting the cost. Was it worth it?

We often see actors or musicians being interviewed and talking about the price of fame and especially how difficult it can be to have their talents and work criticised or ridiculed affecting their own self-esteem in the process.

Although famous people have to deal with this publicly we can all relate to this in our own life and how our accomplishments can be spoiled by the opinions of others. 

The burden of success can play out in other ways, examples can be the trouble so many of us have with a work/life balance. It can also be seen in those who pride themselves as being a ‘Super-Mum’ or the ‘Group Organiser’, but this card represents the sudden realisation of how tiring it can be being the person who does everything. 

Wands symbolise energy but in this picture, the sheer weight and quantity of wands are causing this person’s energy to deplete.

If at the end of any stage in your life you feel worn out, disillusioned, burdened, or saddled then a new tactic needs to be used otherwise any new starts in the offering will not be met with the same enthusiasm as before, or not begun at all.

This is a time to shed what is no longer helping you pursue the path of adventure, action, and achievement wished for.

I often wonder what the man in this picture does next. Does he use the wands to start a campfire and spend the evening resting and reflecting by it, watching the weight he carried going up in smoke?

Or maybe he decides it is time to delegate responsibility and hand some of the batons to a group of other people who can carry them for him? Perhaps he is growing tired of them all and throws them aside as he seeks a brand new adventure in a completely new direction? 

The next step is very much up to the individual who hopefully has finally listened to the warnings that have been whispering in the wind on this journey all along. Everyone has free will and there is a choice to move on to the next adventure with or without all the baggage.

The song I have chosen for the completion of the wands’ journey is Shake It Off by Taylor Swift. If you have resonated with the wands journey and all the energy that comes with it, this song is a great reminder of how to look after yourself on this creative and energetic path.

Ten of Pentacles

And so we come to the very last card in this series, the Ten of Pentacles, and it is definitely true to say, ‘last but not least’.

In this picture, the idea of abundance can be seen in so many different ways.

Once again we see the now familiar full-bodied grapes which, once upon a time, were just an image for us to gaze upon, but now are a way to enjoy life and earn wealth.

This card shows a scene of belonging and community and all generations are pictured as they all bring something important to the gathering; children playing, friends interacting, and an older gentleman sits and pats two loyal doggie companions. 

The pentacles, much like the cups in their final scene, do not belong to anyone but are placed all around the card showing that this journey was never about material success or financial gain.

It is fair to say that our quality of life can be improved when money is available, but, as we have moved through this pentacles journey the message has been repeated that focusing on just money or material worth cannot give complete fulfillment. 

The understanding of our own self-worth was the penultimate lesson we had with the Nine of Pentacles and the knock-on effect of this can be seen in the Ten of Pentacles.

It shows how this knowledge of our own worth and importance in the world can bring a feeling of abundance that money cannot buy. What is more, we do not have to be rich or successful to obtain this. 

The pentacles have shown their association with the earth throughout this journey. We have seen the lessons of building solid foundations in the earth, and the harshness of the winter and being left out in the cold.

We have also seen how working with the earth and allowing things to take the time to grow can be beneficial in so many ways.

The Ten of Pentacles takes this message further to show us that we are all connected, within this picture we have the plants, animals, people, and buildings that we create on the Earth all combined, but, no one part is overshadowed by the other. 

The idea that this environment is appreciated and shared by everyone is a wonderful sentiment.

The Pentacles promised us a feeling of abundance, it also warned us that the journey would be harder than we may have anticipated and patience would be needed.

It may well be the young character who we saw juggling and struggling to make sense of his world is now the white-haired old man that we now see in this picture.

Maturity has given him the benefits of wisdom and the gift of future generations to pass his knowledge on to. I am sure we have all had at least one conversation with a senior citizen who views the world from a very different perspective and can provide us with gold nuggets of information that will help us understand what is truly important.

My last song that I have chosen for the completion of the Pentacles journey is What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong.

The video (albeit a commercial!) which accompanies it shows how it is not just humans who are busy working their way through life, but it also shows the abundance that can be found on the earth and how truly blessed we all are to be a part of it. 

I hope you have enjoyed these articles and they have helped you resonate with the Tarot and your own life’s path a little bit more.

Don’t forget as one adventure ends … another one is beginning so if you have resonated with one suit, perhaps it is time to pick a different one and start all over again.

If you would like to read more of Claire’s articles or book a tarot reading, please visit her website

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About the author

Claire Chilvers

Claire Chilvers is a writer and tarot reader and lives in Essex, UK. She offers tarot readings to clients in the UK and around the world via video calls (Skype usually), if you would like a reading please contact her at clairechilverstarot@yahoo.com. Claire also has a Youtube Channel where she shares daily readings- https://www.youtube.com/@dailytarotwithclaire