Three of Swords Tarot Card Meaning - Upright, Reversed & More

Three of Swords upright

Three of Swords At A Glance

Keywords: Heartbreak, trauma, healing, moving on, grief, separation, forgiveness, recovery, reconciliation
Season: Spring
Element: Air (thoughts, ideas and communication)

Three of Swords Tarot Card Description

The Three of Swords is the third card within the suit of Swords and a minor arcana card within tarot. Its original art is quite famous and recognizable outside of tarot within the mainstream world. It features a bold red heart with 3 swords stabbed into it on a gray background with clouds and rain pouring down behind it.

Its graphic yet vivid appearance and thick bold black lines collectively make it a very popular choice for tattoos and many classic and neoclassic tattoo designs are inspired by this art work even today. Due to the popularity of its artwork the Three of Swords card’s meaning is also understood by the world outside of tarot. Most people will be somewhat aware that this card stands for heartache and healing.

This is because the artwork very clearly describes the universal feeling we have all experienced. Regardless of our individual age, language or culture, we have all been through heartache at some point in our life and all the elements of this design clearly communicate this feeling.

Three of Swords Upright Meaning

When upright the Three of Swords is highlighting the pain and trauma that we have experienced and it gives us a space to safely feel the affects of and in time learn to accept these feelings. Societally we are often told to put these feelings away and not show our emotions but when we are greeted with this card it is like the universe holding us and saying to us “do you wanna talk about it?”

There can be a lot of fear around tarot cards like this as Hollywood films and media often uses tarot as a plot device to foreshadow, meaning many people believe tarot is only used to predict the future. This is one way of reading but it’s not the most commonly used method. So when a card like the Three of Swords appears for a reader there can be fear that the sadness and heartache the card mentions are on their way into the reader’s life.

But in reality tarot is much more nuanced and the most popular way to read tarot is not to predict the future but actually to be mindful and introspective, to assess our internal landscape. So in this case the Three of Swords doesn’t predict future sadness but actually comforts and supports us regarding sadness or heartache that we have already experienced.

“This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.” - Elizabeth Gilbert

Three of Swords Reversed Meaning

Three of Swords reversed

When reversed the Three of Swords is an incredibly positive card. Upright it discusses themes of heartache and sadness but reversed it suggests we are healing from the negative past events we experienced. This healing can be mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially or any area of life that we have asked our question about. There is a lot of hope within the reversed meaning of the 3 of Swords because it implies that the worst is behind us now.

So even if we aren’t completely healed yet we can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. This hope renews our motivation to keep going with the healing actions and plan that have been helping us so far. It also reminds us that even if we do feel better we still need to continue with the healing steps we are taking because they are often not tasks we can just do once and forget about. The healing journey needs our commitment for it to continue working.

For example if we begin meditating to calm our anxiety and then start to feel better we might be tempted to stop meditating but over time this causes the anxiety to return. This card asks us to commit to these steps for the long term and to switch our mind frame from one that sees these steps as a chore to one that sees them as a healing gift we give to ourselves each day.

“I’d rather love a million times and have my heart broken every time, than hold a permanently empty heart forever.” - H.C. Paye

Three of Swords: Yes or No

The Three of Swords is a very strong no card. It suggests that saying yes at this time would lead us down a very difficult and painful road. If reversed then it is a yes but only if we feel healed enough to take this on.

Let’s Break Down the Three of Swords In Our Lives

Tarot card meanings can differ when answering questions about different areas of our lives. This is how the Three of Swords in particular changes.

Three of Swords In Love

Receiving the Three of Swords card in relation to a love question is probably not at the top of the list of what any tarot reader wishes to see. But tarot gives us what we need and not what we want. In the case of this card it shows us there is a power in admitting to ourselves how we truly feel.

There is mental resistance and friction that is instantly lifted from us even if nothing else in our life changes. We now understand the cause of our sadness and can eventually create a map out of this. But for now just to acknowledge it is a very big step.

Reversed we are being guided to forgive. Whether this means forgiving someone in our lives or more commonly forgiving ourselves, now is the time to start flirting with the idea of moving on. Forgiveness does not automatically mean we keep the person in our lives nor does it mean we must forgive FOR them.

This is something we can decide to do on our own and for ourselves because holding on to resentment or hatred is bad for our mental and emotional health. It also means that forgiving someone can happen without an apology from the other person. We are not forgiving them because they have asked us. We are forging in them because it is the best course of action we can take for ourselves.

Three of Swords With Money

This card in reference to financial queries suggests we may need to divide our finances or resources. Right now we are being warned not to put all our eggs in one basket and that we should diversify to earn within additional income streams.

Reversed we have overcome a huge financial hiccup. It took a long time but we can finally see our money situation changing. This can be because we have changed our spending habits, saved money each month, created a budget or any other positive action. Either way our financial health is now or will soon be thriving because of our own hard work and the changes we made.

Three of Swords At Work

When we see the Three of Swords regarding a career question we are being guided to process trauma or stress that we have encountered in the work place. This could be past events or ongoing situations that continue to cause stress. The situation will need us to confront it head on in order to be solved, this won’t go away on its own so we shouldn’t ignore it.

Reversed the Three of Swords at work is suggesting we establish better working practices and processes which are more efficient. It then guides us to take the increased time or resources this efficiency has given us and utilize it for increased mental wellness in work.

For example if we work on a task and finish 15 minutes earlier we can use this found quarter of an hour to meditate or do desk yoga. These small changes don’t seem like much on their own but once added up they can have a big impact on how we feel in general whilst at work which creates a positive spiral that continues to benefit us.

Three of Swords With Others

The Three of Swords with others can be described easily by the following quote: “Once bitten, twice shy.” We are feeling hurt by others and therefore tentative about trusting again. This can be about intrapersonal relationships but it mostly means others in a general sense: the world or society at large.

We feel unsure of our place within it and are unwilling to contribute. We are being asked to stop viewing society as a big intimidating whole and instead find our own micro community which centers around hobbies or interests we have in common.

Reversed says we have been slowly repairing our thoughts surrounding community and society. Slowly we are feeling like we are part of it instead of being used by it. We are comfortable with our place within it because we feel secure in the way we contribute towards it. We feel less like the lone wolf because we have found our people.

Three of Swords With Self

Seeing the Three of Swords when we have asked an introspective question can signify the need to stop and process any recent sad events. At the time of the event we felt somewhat fine considering what we were going through. However now the event is over we feel worse. This is because the shock begins to sink in. Now it is passed and we are safe we are feeling the emotions rise because we are being guided to process them thoroughly.

Reversed the 3 of Swords can indicate the desire we feel to internally let go of negative emotions so they no longer constrain us. We know this might hurt temporarily but we are motivated because on the other side of this process we will feel free.

Three of Swords As Feelings

The Three of Swords feels like pain and sadness. A very strong feeling which is universal among all people regardless of individual background or experience.

There is also hope because these feelings will pass in time and we believe with all our being that we will smile again.