Upright: Painful separation, sorrow heartbreak, grief, rejection
Reversed: Releasing pain, optimism, forgiveness
The Three of Swords is a simply illustrated card with a difficult message. A heart, suspended in the air, is pierced by three swords. The heart is symbolic of emotion and beauty, while the piercing swords reflect the ability of logic and power to harm the physical body and the emotions of a person. The sky is heavily clouded and rain pours down violently, representing a grim moment in time.
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The Three of Swords represents rejection, sadness, loneliness, heartbreak, betrayal, separation and grief. Such events feel so painful because they are unexpected. However, the Three of Swords often serves as a warning sign to show when one or more of these are possible. By preparing for this difficult event, the emotional blow can be minimised or even prevented entirely.
That said, pain, sorrow and grief are often a necessity in the journey of life. Without pain, there would be no challenge and no lessons learned. Pain can be a great motivator because it encourages you to surmount obstacles and ultimately learn from your mistakes. Each challenge you encounter creates that initial pain, which is inevitably turned into an opportunity to grow stronger and to change the direction of your life as a result of the lessons learned. While the pain may cloud your vision for a certain period, it will eventually allow you to see clearly and to put the past behind you. Though life seems meaningless at the time, recovery can and will occur. It takes faith, self-love, forgiveness and time. Count your blessings.
The Three of Swords therefore serves as a reminder that if you can start to see pain as a learning opportunity, life will suddenly become less painful. You need to really get in touch with pain and sorrow. Challenges remain but once they are no longer perceived as negative or ‘bad’, they lose a lot of their impact. This card is therefore encouraging you that you have the ability to conquer any pain that comes your way. Understand how the pain can help you grow. If someone has betrayed you and you do not think you can ever love again, challenge that belief. Do not be surprised when your heart emerges from darkness, capable of loving even more than before.
Similarly, the Three of Swords speaks of loss and difficulty, of sacrifice and broken relationships. It follows the difficult decision required in the Two of Swords, where you may be avoiding the necessity of making a tough choice. In the Three of Swords, the choice has been made, and you are now experiencing the consequences of your action. Often the choices make involve choosing one good over another, or one evil over another, and thus when you have finally made your decision, you are still left with the pain of losing the option you have not chosen. Often, however, the pain of losing something you once valued (such as a ‘comfortable’ relationship in which you are no longer growing) is necessary in order to prepare you for a more fulfilling experience in the future.
The Three of Swords is also about release. When you have suffered a major setback, or loss, it is a good time to have a good cry, which is all part of the cleansing process. Expressing your sadness and letting it all out will then help you to move on to better times. However, it is also important that you continue to focus on the future path ahead. There can be a risk that you may become overly absorbed in the loss and the surrounding emotions that you lose sight of the need to just let go and move on. The loss becomes your focus rather than the recovery. It is time to accept the loss and then move forward with your life.
In its reversed position, the Three of Swords indicates that you have recently gone through a difficult patch where perhaps a relationship has ended or has experienced challenging times, a loved one has passed, or you felt hurt from a situation that affected you deeply. Thankfully, this time has passed and you are on the path to recovery, realising that with behind every cloud is a silver lining and there are indeed other things in your life which you can feel happy about. You have reached a point where you can accept the pain and hurt and are ready to move on.
On the flipside, the reversed Three of Swords can also suggest that you are finding it very hard to move on from a recent loss or heartbreak. This card suggests that inside you are still suffering emotionally from a previous loss and need to go through an emotional purging process to allow yourself freedom from your past. You are doing your best to leave this behind and make a new life but it is still a long journey ahead. Be careful that you are not getting ‘stuck’ in the moment of grief, and instead you are focused on leaving behind your past and embracing new opportunities. It is always hard to bear the pain of separation or understand why you have been inflicted with such sorrow. Learn to accept your situation so that the healing process will not become blocked. Allow yourself to experience the pain, give yourself the right to grieve and release the heartache. Let it go, and then, once the upset, pain and tears have gone, open the door to new experiences.
If you are experiencing challenges in your relationships, the reversed Three of Swords serves as a reminder to be the peacemaker. Never be afraid to say you are sorry. Always think before you speak so that you will not later regret what you have said.
When you see the reversed Three of Swords, ask yourself, “In what ways am I suffering? What do I most feel sorrowful about? What can I do to release this pain and learn from it?”