A Closer Look: The Three of Swords


When reading for someone, the card that most people (aside from the Ten of Swords) cringe at seeing is the Three of Swords. Although this card can conjure up feelings of fear of heartache or loss, there is an opportunity for growth the Three of Swords offers that can only be appreciated after experiencing a separation.


Of my three decks, the Three of Swords for Crow Tarot follows the imagery of the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith deck most closely. My focus during this time was on the bad relationships that I have traveled in and out of and my role being on each side of the sword. Betrayal stung, but over time I valued the healing process as it provided an opportunity for me to discover that my strength runs more deeply than any cut. Then there were the times that I wielded the sword—not to inflict pain without caution or care but as a means of freeing myself from someone or a situation that was not healthy or that didn't honor my spirit. My goal was to convey not only the feeling that comes from heartache at the hands of another but also the power we all have to hold up the sword of truth and cut the cords that are attached to those who do not hold our hearts with love and care.


The Three of Swords for the Wise Dog brings betrayal, but it is at the hands of time. We will all fall victim to it, and in many ways through our lives, from relationships to jobs to places we live, with time—change is inevitable and too often heartbreaking. It is also time that is the essential component in healing. For the Wise Dog, I included cherry blossoms as a sign of renewal and spring. They are a sign of birth and hope, and with that, with each end, there is a new beginning.


For the Grimalkin Tarot, my inspiration for the Three of Swords comes from The Wounded Deer by Frida Kahlo. Although hurt, the face on the cat speaks of strength as it stares with a look that is part defiant and part acknowledgment as to who inflicted the pain. The blood that drips from the wound on to the lotus symbolizes a connection to spirit, and to one's higher-self. It represents our ability to extend compassion inward as a means of healing. Out of a painful event, there is an opportunity to bring something new and beautiful into existence.

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© 2019 by MJ Cullinane