Mary El Tarot - Ten of Swords

Bat Chicken

The Pale horse carries the Grim Reaper:
When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, "Come and see!" I looked and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.

Revelation 6 : 7 - 8 ( N I V )

The mixture of the image of Death with the traditional 10 of Swords (Ruin) is indeed a dark combination. Something material, a project or and idea has come to an end might be too gentle. Or here we are at rock bottom with only one way left to go….

Birds fly in the background and “Death” is the skull and body of a raven corpse – the raven is a recurring theme in the Mary El. Odin had two ravens he sent into the world - Huginn is Thought, and Muninn is Memory. The raven is also said to be a guide to the Otherworld. Ravens are also scavengers, cleaning up the remains of dead animals. The death of one, supports the life of another.


I find this image really powerful. My first thought when I look at it, is how much the image reminds me of a song by Emily Portman called 'Hide'.
In the song a proud woman refuses to submit to her husband and he decides to teach her a lesson. He kills his old mare and, knowing that the neighbours might have something to say if they see him beat his wife, he takes the skin and wraps his wife in it. He beats her so badly that he kills her and he leaves her body. After he has gone, life begins to return and she forms a new creature, blending with the skin of the horse. Her husband hears hooves thundering on the ground coming towards the house. She has turned into a 'night mare'.

It makes me think of of those 'nightmares' which come to haunt us and how sometimes they represent the reaping of something we have sown.


Very interesting card. I would say that you have experienced it all, the ups and the downs and now is the time to get up and ride that horse with all the strength available to start afresh. Ride that horse with the sword of knowledge and fight again. The tough times are over and this is the start of something new and positive.


Ten of Swords

Death, destruction, change, transformation, night, nightfall, harbinger, foreshadowing.


The raven is also said to be a guide to the Otherworld.
Ravens live long lives, some say they can see death. With their black plumage they represent the cosmic void, the black emptiness of the universe [the abyss]. Many traditions hold the crow and raven flew out of that emptiness into our reality, and can carry you into and out of that dark matrix. (David Carson, Find Your Spirit Animals, 2011)

Ravens are scavengers as well as hunters, as is the eagle described in the book. The raven here, as the rider on the pale horse and carrying a scythe is clearly representing death. However, the scythe also symbolically cuts away illusions and opens the gateway to truth. If we think in terms of reaping, it is not simply a cutting down, but a collecting--harvesting that which you have sown and invested time and resources in. It is a time for separating that which is beneficial and valuable from that which is no longer needed.