3 of Swords | Weekly Tarot Card Pt 5: Defining

This is the fifth and last installment in this Weekly Tarot Card series. The next series will begin on Monday. However, if you’d like to get caught up on the rest of the week, you can use the following links:

The 3 of Swords is a notoriously difficult card. It’s one of those cards that’s deemed as negative, right up there with the Tower, the 10 of Swords, and the Devil. I suppose it doesn’t help that the common depiction of the 3 of Swords is a heart with three Swords stuck into it. However, the key thing to remember with these difficult cards is that no card is inherently evil, bad, or damning. They all have different aspects to them that can be blessings in disguise. Each of the 78 cards of the Tarot have different levels of difficulty—some in unexpectant ways, and some more obviously so.

Monday looked at simply observing the card to see what you noticed first. I believe this should be an often repeated exercise as it helps you to realign with your cards. If what you notice differs from last time, why? How? What new insight does this give you?

On Tuesday we spent some time reflecting on what it is that is outside of us that is really a projection of what’s going on inside. This meditation required some questioning and answering, and I hope you’ll revisit this exercise as well.

On Wednesday we began to take the 3 of Swords apart, looking at the element and number of the card. Thursday we carried on the exercise by taking apart and defining the images commonly shown in the 3 of Swords.

Today, we create a definition with all we’ve experienced this week.

Defining the 3 of Swords

When defining the 3 of Swords, or any card, we need to look at the various components of it. The first and easiest components to look at and use as a compass are the element and number. The element of Air denotes thought and communication. This implies that a lot of what the Swords is about is mentality. The 3’s are about creation, creativity, and projections. The One’s are what’s within, the two’s are what we reflect, and the three’s are then what we allow to take shape. Thus, the application of Air and the 3, is allowing thoughts to manifest and take shape.

However, in traditionally depicted 3 of Swords, there is a heart in a raining sky, saying that thoughts are muddled with Water—emotions—which begs the question of whether the two can be separated. Often when our thoughts are muddled with our emotions, it helps to walk away from the situation, at least for a little bit. This helps to detangle the mind from the heart, allowing the heart to heal and the mind to come back down to earth, where it can be grounded.

Divinatory Meaning

The Three of Swords shows clouds and a grey sky, in which suspends a red heart with three blue swords crossing through it.

The swords bring a brutal reality to the energy of the heart. This can be looking at ideas that we hold dear or loved ones and critically analyzing them. This does not mean giving them up altogether, but instead that we must be brutal with our decisions, and that we must let our intellect override emotion. Likewise, the Three of Swords can indicate heartache that comes with new information.


Keywords: heartbreak, grief, using intellect over emotion, a low point.

Next week we begin our final chapter on the 3’s in the Minor Arcana: the 3 of Pentacles. Afterward we will look at the 3 in the Major Arcana, the Empress.

In the meantime, I invite you to spend some time experiencing the 3 of Swords through the exercises provided, and I hope that you find some beauty in this card, just as there is beauty in all the other cards of the Tarot.

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