10 of Pentacles

consider the legacy that you’re creating

Ten shows the fullest expression of the suit + Pentacles represents the ways that we as spirits navigate the physical world

from the Spiral Tarot

And so, in its centered aspect, the Ten of Pentacles depicts the soul supported in having a human experience. As the final pip card, it speaks deeply to our own mortality and asks us to consider how we will be remembered. In the Smith-Waite depiction, we see the kabbalistic tree as a spiritual reminder that a full life doesn’t need to be complicated or lavish. The inheritance so often attributed to this card speaks of familial lines; this is the family, the legacy, the ancestors, tradition, mortality — perhaps even a healing of generational lines by our standing in our power and doing our soul work. Cultivate the community and tools to be supported in that work. As the book for the Dali Tarot points out, individuality cannot be achieved in isolation.

For those more spiritually inclined, this may also be a reminder to do ancestor work. By honoring those who have come before us (whether familial, occupational, spiritual, geographic, or other), we may learn from them.

In resistance, we may mistrust abundance or have lost the security of family ties. Perhaps we have been disenfranchised.

In excess, we may be cloistered in ethnocentrism or choosing material comfort over more spiritual pursuits.

Questions we may be prompted to ask when this card comes up include

  • What will you be remembered for? What are you doing right now to build that legacy? What stops you from doing so?
  • Are there familial relationships that need tending right now?
  • What ancestral baggage are you shedding?
  • Are you still clinging to outdated family values passed down to you that exclude others or enable their disenfranchisement?

What else? There is vast meaning in this card and you may have other insights. How has it come up for you?

10 of Swords

develop new thought patterns

Ten finds us in the fullest expression of the suit + Swords represents the mental realm of thoughts and belief systems

from Herbcrafter’s Tarot

And so, in its centered aspect, the Ten of Swords indicates that we can go no further engaging with our thoughts or beliefs the way we have been. We may learn the hard way, but something must change. Have we been so cold, rational, or suspicious in our approach that we’ve excluded other functions (intuition, feeling, sensing)? Have we been so fixed in our beliefs that we’ve excluded other possibilities? We must transform old thought patterns if we want to get back on our feet, because we cannot continue in the direction we’re headed without doing something different.

In resistance, we refuse to adapt our thinking, and fail to evolve.

In excess, we adopt a defeatist attitude.

Questions we may be prompted to ask when this card comes up include

  • Where have you found yourself at a dead end, historically?
  • What belief or attitude is preventing your evolution to the next phase?
  • Can you adapt your approach?

What else? This can be a challenging card, but offers various angles and you may have other insights. How has it come up for you?

10 of Cups

take joy in what you have

Ten shows the fullness of the suit as we integrate its lessons in preparation for the next cycle + Cups represents our emotions and how we relate to others

from the New Orleans Voodoo Tarot

And so, in the centered aspect of the Ten of Cups, we’re invited to appreciate the contentment in our lives, accepting ourselves and others for what we are. There’s a sense of emotional fulfillment, here; yet we’re often so busy pushing forward that we neglect to take joy in what we have, and we’re reminded to be present for whatever that rainbow may be in your life.

This card also reminds us that sharing the wealth offers fulfillment. When we feel joy and contentment, allow it to spill over onto others.

In deficiency, we’re disillusioned by expectations of perfection, never satisfied and always searching for bigger and better.

In excess, we focus on the positive at the expense of recognizing valid feelings (emotional / spiritual bypassing).

Questions we may be prompted to ask when this card comes up include

  • How easily are you satisfied?
  • Do you have idealized expectations that are never met?
  • Are you always focusing on the positives in order to bury disappointment?

What else? This card seems simple but can offer more complex challenges, and you may have other insights. How has it come up for you?

10 of Wands

ask for help or delegate where you can

Ten shows us the full power of the suit as we prepare for a new cycle + Wands represent our energy and how we use it

from Sola Busca Revisited by Tarot by Seven

And so, in the centered aspect of the Ten of Wands, we find ourselves spent. Our determination shows, but we’ve reached the limit of what we can take on and it’s time to ask for help or to delegate some responsibilities. This is unsustainable and it’s time to level up. Perhaps you’ve amassed abundance and can share the wealth by bringing others in to help share the load.

In resistance, we refuse to accept help, struggling under the weight of our burdens but insisting on carrying it all ourselves; or the martyr with the “allow me to suffer the burden” demands for sympathy. Perhaps we’ve acquired an attitude of servitude, content to take on the demands (or baggage) of others.

In excess, we are the workaholic who thrives on being overcommitted, who gets a charge out of having all circuits firing. What is it that we’re actually trying to prove (or avoid)?

Questions we may be prompted to ask when this card comes up include

  • Where do you feel burdened? What or who is holding you down?
  • What do you continue to tolerate?
  • Do you have a hard time saying no? Does a part of you feel guilt? How can you establish better boundaries?
  • Do you feel that you are responsible for taking on all of the roles? Are you afraid to delegate? Why?
  • Are you preventing others their own success?
  • Does perfectionism play a role in your workload?
  • What is it time to purge?
  • Does overcommitting yourself allow you to avoid something else?

What else? This is a loaded card, and you may have other insights. How has it come up for you?

9 of Pentacles

bask in the grounding nature of the surroundings you’ve created for yourself

Nine shows a solitary moment to gather ourselves in the gifts of the suit + Pentacles represent the physical realm

from Touchstone Tarot by Kat Black

And so, in the centered aspect of the Nine of Pentacles, we enjoy the surroundings and lifestyle we’ve created for ourselves. So often translated as material wealth and independence, I see it in a more spiritual sense. It signals contentment in our physical surroundings (e.g., a love of nature or setting up our own space in the home) and with our path. It’s a place of independence, of self-satisfaction, of self-sufficiency; but we don’t need wealth to thrive, and material possessions do not make a self-possessed life.

The suit of Pentacles is a very grounding one, and here we may be reminded to ground by experiencing nature.

In resistance, we don’t allow ourselves time to fully be with ourselves. We may not feel that we can or should. Perhaps we’re not comfortable in a place of abundance, or even in our own skin; or we feel guilt for not being “productive.”

In excess, our only concern is our own comfort or self interest. Perhaps we’ve become so independent that the environment we’ve created is entirely under our control — even down to the hooded falcon doing our bidding.

Questions that we may be prompted to explore when this card comes up include

  • Are you comfortable in the solitude of your own company? Do you allow yourself that time? If not, why?
  • Do you enjoy leisure time? How do you view it?
  • Is luxury an important part of your life?
  • Can you give up control of your environment?
  • Are you in need of grounding?

What else? What observations and insights have you had on this card? How has it come up for you?

9 of Swords

question your demons

Nine finds us in a solitary moment to gather ourselves before completion + Swords represents the airy realm of thoughts and beliefs

from Art History Tarot for Past Lives

And so, in the centered aspect of the Nine of Swords, our thoughts persist in a sort of torment of the mind. We found ourselves trapped by our beliefs in the Eight, and without direct action, our anxiety may persist in insomnia and nightmares. We often ascribe fear and worry to the Swords because the mind can get lost in over-thinking — especially as the numbers ascend through the cycle and build; but the lesson here is that our dragons may be slayed by questioning them. Truly think about it. Defy your demons. This is an invitation to evolve in understanding our thoughts and how we deal with the mind’s creation of fear and worry; to turn on the light, look under the bed, and open the closet door to see that there are no demons residing there, after all.

In resistance, we deny its presence or refuse to face our fears. Seeing the card literally, we may have a hard time getting up.

In excess, we obsess over our anxiety, perhaps so much that we descend into self-pity as a security blanket.

Questions we may be prompted to ask when this card comes up include

  • How do you torment yourself? What part does shame play?
  • What does it serve to be in this fear? What part is activated and what is it protecting? How can we tend those parts?
  • Is this fear actually true? How do you know?
  • How are you managing your anxiety?

What else? This card brings up a lot in people; how has it come up in your readings? What insights have you found in exploring its meanings?

9 of Cups

consider what you wish for and nourish that dream

Nine prompts reflection before emerging to culmination + Cups represents our inner world of emotions and dreams

from Isidore Tarot

And so, in the centered aspect of the Nine of Cups, we realize a sense of self and are satisfied with what we’ve attained.  There is an overall sense of mindfulness inherent in this card, and a reminder of gratitude.  Traditionally known as the “wish card” in predictive reading because it indicates desires fulfilled, it invites us to check in with what we wish for and to build intention, nourishing our dream toward fulfillment. There is an inherent reminder in this card to “be careful what you wish for,” which pertains also to being specific in your intentions.  Consider them carefully.

In resistance, we don’t believe that we’ll get what we want, or we feel undeserving. Do we deny ourselves pleasure? We may be waiting for the other shoe to drop, and this is a reminder to examine those fears.

In excess, we overindulge in that which brings us pleasure or satisfaction (in order to keep things bottled up? Or, out of selfishness, we satisfy only ourselves, unconcerned with the welfare of others.

Questions we may be prompted to consider when this card comes up include

  • Are you preventing your personal growth in some way? How?
  • Have you been complacent in your intentions? Why?
  • Do you fear that your dreams will never be attained? What parts feed that fear?  What can you do now to take a step in their direction?
  • Do you overindulge, either as a way to avoid success or because you lack limits? How does that serve you?
  • Are you concerned only with your own fulfillment?

What else? This card can be an emotional powerhouse and you may have other insights. How has it come up for you?

9 of Wands

rest where you can in order to persevere

Nine nears the end of the cycle and we pause for a moment to steady ourselves for culmination + Wands represents our energy and how we use it, our vitality

from Proletariat Tarot

And so, in the centered aspect of the Nine of Wands, we’re approaching completion and take a moment to refresh our stamina. Amid the action of Wands, we rest — weary, but ready to persevere with resolve. This is the survivor; things may be busy or challenging, but it’s important to nourish ourselves in order to endure the final push or try again in anticipation of the challenge or change to come. Remain aware of your surroundings and protect the progress you’ve made, but take a break where you can before the last leg of this journey.

In resistance, we retreat or surrender. Overcome with fatigue or helplessness, we just can’t muster the inner fire.

In excess, we’re overprotective of our wands, perhaps stubbornly distrusting and hyper-vigilant. Paranoid that they will be taken away, we’re unable to relax, not letting our guard down, or clinging to them despite that they no longer serve our needs. In Smith-Waite, the bandage on his head indicates that he’s been through a battle. Was he headstrong and belligerent?

Questions we may be prompted to explore when this card comes up include

  • Is your inner critic telling you to throw in the towel? Whose voice is it? How do you respond?
  • Are you dealing with a battle that’s gone on too long? Are old wounds resurfacing? How can it be resolved?
  • Do you feel alone in this battle?
  • Where do you feel overprotective? What may happen if you let down your guard?
  • Are you in manic mode? Where can you take a rest and recenter?

What else? There are various aspects of this card and you may have different insight. How has it come up for you?

8 of Pentacles

show up

Eight emerges from the uncertainty of seven with momentum or direction + Pentacles represents navigating the physical world

from Darkness of Light (1st ed.)

And so, in the centered aspect of the Eight of Pentacles, we pursue the daily hands-on work involved in the mastery of our craft (including our spiritual craft). As Lindsay Mack said, “the true essence of soul work is not in the outcome but in showing up every day.” Persistence pays off. It’s through repetition that we progress.

Remember also to take joy in the details; the spirit with which we work is in the result, and the essence of this card lies in the desire to express ourselves through our work.

In resistance, we lack the motivation or discipline to put the effort in.

In excess, we fear not being perfect. We get caught up in the details or become driven by the expectation of perfect mastery.

Questions we may be prompted to ask when this card comes up include

  • Do you lack self-discipline?
  • What patterns do you repeat over and over?
  • Do you get stuck in attention to detail, driven by perfectionism?
  • What are you obsessing over?

What else? It seems pretty straightforward, but no card has a singular, simple meaning, and you may have other insights. How has it come up for you?

8 of Swords

step free of limiting beliefs

Eight brings new direction or realignment + Swords represents the mental realm of our belief systems and communication

from Tarot of the Holy Light

And so, in the centered or balanced aspect of the Eight of Swords, it’s time to step out of the mental constructs and limiting beliefs which hold us back. The blindfold in the Smith-Waite card indicates denial; if we choose to remain confined by fears, doubts, and judgements, it’s self-imposed, and we’re invited to liberate ourselves from thinking that we’re trapped or bound in some way. There is a way forward. Breathe and step into it

(This is not to make light of the fact that some are truly imprisoned and/or oppressed in some way, and this card can certainly come up in those situations; but in keeping with the focused inner lens of shadow work here in this series, we’ll save that for another post.)

In resistance, we remain in denial of our own autonomy, our inner development paralyzed.

In excess, we play the damsel in distress. How does that serve us?

Questions we may be prompted to ask when this card comes up include

  • What beliefs limit your momentum?
  • Are you allowing others’ judgements to impact you?
  • What fears hold you back from speaking your truth?
  • Is your ability to communicate stifled? How or why?
  • Where do you need to step up?
  • How has playing the victim served you in the past?
  • Is there an exiled part ready to integrate and take on a new role?

What else? You may have other insights into the complexities of this card. How has it come up for you?