Day of Ruin: 10 of Swords + the Tower

First daily acquaintance draw was fun. And by fun, I mean wow. Look at this selection: the 10 of Swords from Book of Azathoth, and the Tower from XIII. For once they seem to be agreeing on something.

10 of Swords

A figure lies on the ground on eir front, eir face turned away from the viewer. Ten swords skewer em along eir spine, from neck to posterior. A dark liquid, probably blood, seeps from underneath eir body. Eir visible hand is making a gesture with the thumb tip touching the tip of the ring finger. It reminds me of an odd ‘a-ok’ gesture. The sky is black and clouded, the landscape desolate save for a distant chain of mountains on the horizon.

It looks as though some random event struck this figure down. I don’t know how swords would fall from the sky with such precision but it seems they did. The hand gesture of the figure, so reminiscent of ‘okay’, makes me think ey was expecting it — at the least, even if ey wasn’t expecting to be skewered with so many swords, ey has made peace with it. The way eir gaze is towards the mountains on the horizon, across a bleak landscape, puts me in mind of a hopeless endeavor, one that was perhaps doomed from the start, but still speaks of a longing for something ey cannot have. The image evokes resignation, acceptance, peace, melancholy, bleakness, yielding, and a loss of hope or ambition. Overall, the mood is one of resigned melancholia.

Intuitive Meaning: Some kind of disaster (ruin) — the depression or melancholy from a failed venture, desire, or plan — wallowing in melancholy or depression — needing to accept some failure and work past it.

Verdict: It seems my natural interpretation of the 10 of Swords varies greatly from the standard — or at least, from the way Joan Bunning interprets it. She calls attention to the excessiveness of 10 swords, and the way it makes the situation a little ridiculous, a little hilarious. I missed this aspect entirely, focusing instantly on the figure’s melancholy. Bottoming out, nowhere to go but up, martyrdom — I could see these meanings. Victim mentality escaped me entirely. I don’t know if I can actually see a victim mentality in this image — I can only see distant, sad longing.

The Tower

A vast building, architecturally evocative of a medieval gothic church, sits on a cloud. In the centerpiece there is an angel figure, with hands clasped before em around the handle of a thick sword, perhaps a claymore. The headdress, or perhaps halo, glows red — the image is unclear on which it is, or where exactly the angel’s head is. At either side of the balcony upon which the angel stands are two nude figures, hunched over uncomfortably and apparently integrated into the stonework. They each face the angel. Behind the angel’s spread wings, lightning strikes the structure, and one of the two tallest spires is crumbling.

This building looks like a place of worshipful oppression. The angel stands guard over both the intricate structure and the people who are hunched and trapped inside of it, but ey is oblivious to the destruction of eir authority that is taking place just behind em. I see ignorance, stress, hubris, and pride in the feeling, and myself feel awe at the size of the structure and the vastness of the angel’s wings, and shock at the lack of notice for the crumbling tower — but the prevailing mood is one of shock and awe.

Intuitive Meaning: A collapse of some well-maintained structure — failure of an entire system, probably due to outside forces — overconfidence in some system leading to ignorance of the dangers — overconfidence in the security of your position.

Verdict: When it comes to the XIII’s version of the Tower, I at least remain quite true to the original spirit of the card. Sudden change, release of emotion, downfall of some structure or power, revelation — all of these feel intuitive for the image XIII presents, and I can easily adjust and add them to my repertoire. I find it difficult to read the church-like structure, accompanied by the angel, as anything other than an oppressive or dysfunctional establishment being changed, revealed to be not all that great, or overthrown — but the structure I see could easily be internal, as well, in a challenge of somebody’s beliefs or methods of dealing with situations, or a break in their chosen image resulting in an emotional outburst.

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