Hard Card: 3 of Swords

Hard card is back and exploring one of the most infamous cards in the tarot. The 3 of Swords! This card features three swords piercing a heart and it looks seriously painful. But, like all things in the tarot, this card has more meaning than just plain old "ouch". 

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A Card of Heartbreak & Deeper Lessons

For many, when this card appears they shrink away from the pain that this card communicates. Traditionally, this card is an indicator of heartbreak, loss, suffering, and emotional trauma. It can make an appearance in romance readings to indicate a break-up or business readings to show stagnation and unhappiness. The Ghosts and Spirits Tarot by Lisa Hunt has a very haunting story to go with the image, one where a woman died after being scorned by the man who held her affections. She got her revenge in the afterlife by being the first to greet him on his own deathbed where they could finally be together forever, much to his horror. 

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Are We Damned to Doom & Gloom?

There are moments when we can certainly feel destined to darker times when this card makes an appearance. And the Three of Swords implies a certain message but in the end there is more to this card than meets the eye. 

To start off, the number is only a lowly three. If we look at the rest of the progression of the cards, there are more cards further up the ladder that offer more permanence. If we ascribe the three to the domain of the Empress-the third Major Arcana-then this experience is all about growth, self-love, and a greater understanding of why we went through/are going through this particularly nasty situation. 

A fellow reader once pointed out that no matter who or what put those daggers in my heart, it was ultimately my responsibility to remove them. This would also be the case from the ghost story above. Had this woman been able to see that this man was no good to her, and that she was causing herself more anguish by hanging on, perhaps her ghost would have found peace rather than waiting around for him to come to her. It can be easy when we are hurt to want to lash out, but there is a higher calling in this card for compassion and grieving before ultimately growing, that bears discussing. 

I think that of all possible keywords this card could hold, the one that brings it the most destructive power is petty. How often have you seen or been a participant in an argument or fight where one of you is stood on one side and the other is across this seeming chasm between you? The two sides rarely back down and it becomes bigger and bigger, the original source of the hurt lost in how conflated the issue has become over time. Now, I am not saying that all arguments are petty. Far from it. What I am saying here is that because this card is so low in number, it should be something that we can learn from, move on from, and remember later in life. But, like the petty issues that this card can exacerbate, this card inspires terror wherever it goes, when the reality is a lot less dire than the Three of Swords would have us believe. Sometimes it is simply a matter of stepping back, reflecting, as the swords would encourage us to do, and passing this dramatic card by as it exits from our lives. 

Until next time! 

—J. Ryan