10 of Swords Purgatory

Purgatory is defined as an intermediate state after death for expiatory purification specifically : a place or state of punishment wherein according to Roman Catholic doctrine the souls of those who die in God’s grace may make satisfaction for past sins and so become fit for heaven.

Dante’s Inferno is about the poet’s journey into Hell. Guided by the poet Virgil, Dante descends through the Nine Circles of Hell, eventually arriving at the center where Satan himself resides. After escaping Hell, Dante and Virgil will go on to Purgatory and then Dante will go on to Heaven.

The main meaning of the Ten of Swords is that it predicts disaster. It is a card of destruction. All is lost in a situation once the Ten of Swords makes an appearance.

10 of Swords Mary El Tarot

The Ten of Swords is said to indicate a major disaster of some sort. It shows that a certain force of extreme magnitude has come to hit you in your life – one that you may have not foreseen. There is a sense of betrayal that is indicated here, for the character is stabbed in the back. This seems to be a reminder that despite how much we try, we cannot control everything – there are things that are beyond our ability to change. Here, this situation is unavoidable.

This depiction of the 10 of Swords by Marie White, as seen here, captures the desolation, grief and sorrow associated with this card as few other renditions can.

Ms. Folbigg’s life has been troubled almost since the moment she was born. She was born illegitimately on June 14, 1967 to Kathleen May Donovan and immigrant hoist driver and petty criminal, Thomas Jack “Taffy” Britton. In 1968, when she was just 18 months old her father, Thomas Britton, murdered her mother. His wife, Kathleen, had walked out on them over a money dispute. He stabbed her on a public footpath in Sydney in a drunken rage.

Labyrinthos suggests that “The Ten of Swords depicts that situation where your mentality is ‘poor me’, you feel like there is nothing you can do”.  It advises that one “Pause and remember that as with the death card, the end of something means a new beginning. Let go of what you have lost, and focus on the new path forward because that is where your life is meant to go”.

This may be sound advice for the average person but try telling Catherine Folbigg this. Branded at her trial in 2003 as “Australia’s worst female serial killer”, Folbigg has already spent nearly 18 years in prison after being found guilty of the manslaughter of her firstborn Caleb, and the murder of her three subsequent children, Patrick, Sarah and Laura.

All along, Ms. Folbigg has insisted that she is innocent, and that her children were all victims of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Unsurprisingly, behind bars this familiar assertion doesn’t cut the mustard and she has been subjected to beatings by other prisoners.

All these years later, the only hope that Folbigg has of actually proving her innocence, of ending her prison sentence and starting over lies with the 90 medical experts who filed a petition demanding her release.

The medical experts claim that there was a genetic mutation in Kathleen Folbigg and their two daughters which was “likely pathogenic” and was the actual cause of the deaths of the two girls, Sarah and Laura. Further research into Caleb’s and Patrick’s genomes has revealed that they had separate rare genetic variants, which in studies with mice have been linked to early lethal epileptic seizures.

This very public challenge sets up a tense standoff between some of the world’s top medical minds and a criminal court system that rarely overturns convictions. It’s a story of judges putting more weight on the ambiguous musings of a mother’s diary than on rare genetic mutations, and of scientists who are determined to make the legal system respect cutting-edge expertise.

Caught in the middle is Ms. Folbigg, who is now 53. More than 30 years after her first child’s death, her story has not changed, and she maintains that she will be vindicated.

Re frame the Ten of Swords

I rise again because there is a golden light on the horizon. Hardships often prove to be for my greater good.

Despite the extreme image, especially given that you only need one sword to kill someone, this does not necessarily represent death. It may simply signal that its time of release, time to give up on a lost cause.

In her book ‘Holistic Tarot’ Benebell Wen points to the distant golden light on the horizon suggesting that it symbolizes potential regeneration. There is no doubt that having the ten appear in a spread, while disconcerting, does not have to signal catastrophe of the ongoing kind faced by Catherine Folbigg. Indeed, rummage through some of the guide books that come with your Tarot decks and you will find that various readers and artists provide interesting perspectives on how to interpret this reviled card.

James Ricklef points to “the numerological meaning of the number Ten as “endings that lead to new beginnings” and the Swords suit association with thoughts, beliefs, and ideas. Thus, as he quite rightly says “this card can say that we need to let go of old concepts and ideas in order to embrace new ones. It can herald the realization that some things cannot be explained or understood; they have to be taken on faith. And it may say that after reason has been exhausted, we will find the value of our intuition”.

A reader on Quora notes that “An upright 10 of Swords is an excellent card to draw as a final outcome card. I would say ‘congratulations!’ You have succeeded in passing through a perhaps difficult and challenging time in life. This card indicates transformation and a new beginning. You can kiss the past issues goodbye and move on”.

Likewise, the fun Affirmators Tarot offers a pragmatic approach to facing this death by a thousand cuts card.

Welcome to rock bottom, home of the famous “how the hell did this happen to me?” Pulling this sword from its sheath is a dramatic way of saying things haven’t gone your way, and now you gotta deal with those awful feelings of (pick two) betrayal/failure/victimhood. Luckily, unless you have access to a steam shovel, the only way forward is up. And thank the universe, things should start getting better now, because the ugliest part already happened. Now get the nerve to get up – so you can get on with getting on.

Affirmators Tarot by Suzie Barrett