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UPRIGHT: Burden, extra responsibility, hard work, completion
REVERSED: Doing it all, carrying the burden, delegation, release
The Ten of Wands shows a man carrying a large bundle of sticks towards a small town only a short distance away. His back is bent and he appears to be weighed down by the heavy load he is carrying, but he knows he is almost at his destination and will soon be able to release the heavy weight he is bearing.
NOTE: The Tarot card meaning description is based on the Rider Waite cards.
The Ten of Wands notes that you are taking on an extra burden, a heavier workload, or greater responsibility. Even though it is weighing you down and making things tougher for you, you understand it is only temporary, so you are willing to put in the hard work now to accomplish your goal and reap the rewards later. For example, you may work extra hours to save up for a family holiday. Or you may help out a friend with moving house, knowing they will return the favour when you move later in the year. Or you may care for a sick family member, adding to your responsibilities at home but knowing your loved one deeply appreciates it.
Sometimes, the Ten of Wands appears when you are unconsciously taking on extra responsibility and finding yourself feeling weighed down, exhausted and burnt out. You may try to do everything at once, even though you know it is adding extra pressure to your daily life. The Ten of Wands asks you to stop and examine your current lifestyle or work. Assess which activities or tasks are urgent or important, particularly concerning your broader goals. You may need to use various time management or prioritisation methods to determine where best to spend your time and which tasks you can drop. Your goal needs to be higher efficiency while also freeing yourself up for rest and relaxation when you need it.
The good news is that the Tens in Tarot represent the completion of a cycle, and with the Ten of Wands, the end is in sight! You have been pushing yourself to your limits and working very hard towards your goal. Now, you are taking those final steps on the path to realising your dreams. Sure, you might collapse in a heap of exhaustion when you get there, but you know it will be all worth it and well earned!
The Ten of Wands can also show that even with the achievement of your goal, some significant responsibilities and commitments come with it. When you reach a point of completion, you become starkly aware that you must now carry on with the duties you have laid out for yourself, to ensure ongoing success. The trouble is, however, that these responsibilities may become too much to bear and you are struggling to let go. It is like the business owner who creates a flourishing business but is unprepared to delegate some of his or her responsibilities to the staff and ends up working seventy to eighty hours a week. The inspiration and creativity that came with the initial goal or vision disappear and everything becomes hard work all too quickly. Thus, it is essential to let go of or delegate some of your responsibilities to free you up to still enjoy life.
When the Ten of Wands reversed appears in a Tarot reading, it is often a sign that you are trying to do too much by yourself. In your effort to be everything to everyone, you have found yourself struggling under the weight of it all. Delegate and share the work – you don’t have to do it alone. And be firm in saying no to the things you know you can’t take on. It is imperative you put your self-care and personal well-being first; otherwise you’ll burn yourself out and be of no help to anyone. It’s just like they say, 'Put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others'.
Similarly, the Ten of Wands reversed suggests that you are carrying a heavy weight on your shoulders, but you are keeping this private and are unwilling to share your burden with others. You may be grappling with emotional trauma, carrying a dark secret, or dealing with increased responsibilities. However, you do not feel comfortable sharing this with others, by talking about it or asking for help. In effect, you are pushing away the people who can help you. It may also be a huge relief to you when you do share some of this burden with others, as they are ready and willing to support you.
Sometimes, the reversed Ten of Wands shows that you are holding on to this burden when you do not need to do so. If you are feeling weighed down by your present circumstances, look at ways you might lighten the load. Can you delegate certain tasks and responsibilities? Are you worrying about matters that do not concern you or cannot be changed? Do not become a martyr and take on more than you can realistically handle. On the positive side, if you are going through a challenging time, then the Ten of Wands reversed assures you that this time will soon pass and you will be able to set down this weight.
You may also be actively identifying those activities that do not bring you any value in your life, and you are releasing yourself from these additional responsibilities. Consider going through a purging process, clearing out old clothes and selling old furniture, to declutter and simplify your life. You will benefit from better organisation and prioritisation and enjoy the lightness that comes with such release.