In Margarete Petersen’s Ten of Flames I see a phoenix rising out of the furnace. I can still make out parts of the embracing couple from the Two and Six of Flames, but now they appear to be mostly consumed by fire. A blood-red skeleton sits in front of them. The word ‘oppression’ is often used with the Ten of Wands – the sense of being overwhelmed, of feeling burdened or overstretched. I’m not sure I’d use the word ‘oppression’ here, based on the imagery alone; I’m picking up on a sense of surrendering to the flames in order to rise above. A sort of Death-Tower-Hanged Man crossover!
The accompanying book talks about cleansing and purifying fire, with all the negative emotions having fed the fire. Throwing off compulsions, growing stronger through both triumph and defeat. Redemption and enlightenment. The up-side of oppression, perhaps?
Looking back to the beginning of this journey, the Ace was very much a single flash of fire, the initial creative (some might say divine) spark. By the time we reach the Ten, the fire is all-consuming, burning the embracing couple (representing whatever it is that needs cleansing/purifying). Yet they - and the heart of the fire – are off to the side; the rising phoenix dominates – the potential of the Ace has been realized and is now being transformed into something ‘beyond’, ready to start a new cycle.
Surrounded by flames,Wins and losses become one;
Surrender and rise.
Flames dance, brilliant –From spark to consuming heat
The phoenix takes flight.
Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA, 2004. www.tarotworld.com