Our sorrows and wounds are healed
only when we touch them with compassion.
– Gautama Buddha
Alas, this week we receive one of the simplest, most obviously unhappy cards in the Tarot. It is with admitted misgivings that we are visited by the Three of Swords.
As one of the very few Tarot cards with no human figure depicted, there is not a lot to describe. Even a child can see that this is a card of tears, strife, and hurt. Three swords pierce a heart. Against the background of storm clouds, rain falls.
(Because so many new folks new to the Tarot have asked, I will also point out that the odd-looking symbol in the lower right corner is not part of the card’s meaning. It is a “chop” of artist Pamela Colman Smith’s initials, and is found in all of her illustrations).
The Three of Swords sometimes relates to love triangles; but remember this is an Air card, meaning that its energy focuses on words, thoughts, ideas, communication, and intellect. So there may be sorrow and pain because of misunderstanding, gossip, false beliefs, or making a wrong choice. There could be a betrayal, or grievous words exchanged.
As the recent suicide of Robin Williams has recently highlighted, there are many people who may appear to be fine, even to have it all. But below the surface, a toxic combination of depression, stress, and loneliness may be coming to a crisis point.
If this is the case for you, please reach out to someone, or allow others to come closer to you. Although the Swords can convince our intellect otherwise, the truth is, you need not suffer alone.
Breaking Open Our Hearts
I often think of this card as a reminder that heartbreak can be a message from our Higher Self to open our hearts more. The Wisdom within us may break our hearts, in order to widen our perception, cultivate our compassion, and claim our priorities.
Instead of the wounding itself, it is how we examine and process our pain.
You might begin by considering, then, from the detached viewpoint of the Swords, if there are emotionally volatile memories that are in need of your consideration.
What relationships (current or past) need healing? In what ways might your emotional pain be in danger of taking over, resulting in the temptation to hurt or control those around you?
What wounds need to be understood? What is the core cause of your deepest heart’s suffering right now? What healing rains might bring cleansing, compassion and forgiveness?
Sometimes, the only way to move past our preoccupation with our own pain is to serve others, binding the wounds of those in greater need. Who else in your life might be grieving, and can you help?
What tenderness are you in need of? What kindness can you offer?
Acceptance and allowing sorrow to teach us is sometimes the only way forward. Let this week be an opportunity to touch with compassion the heart that needs you.