I know you may be thinking "heart- break, sorrow and sadness". Or even worse "a three way love triangle." As a professional tarot reader, a lot of my questions are to do with relationships and affairs. Hurt people asking about love.
Yet this is a card I am often glad to see in a reading.
Really look at the card, forget all the keywords you've read and actually look.
Do you see the simplicity of the design, the symmetry in the card.
Notice how the heart is open and unguarded.
See the rain falling in the background.
Notice the beautiful, vital red colour
Lets look at what the symbols could mean (symbols are very subjective after all)
If you know tarot, you know that the suit of swords is a difficult suit. It represents our words and mind- and most people are very harsh to themselves in their quieter moments.
I think the influence of water (representing the suit of cups, and our emotions) softens the meaning of the card. This is a card where the emotions are still softening the mental pain. There is still change, movement, growth.
I see the water as symbolic tears, washing away and releasing the sadness and pain. For me the water (emotions) represented in this card lets me know that the person is still feeling, even if a large part of that is emotional pain.
The open heart (not in a rib cage, or behind a padlock or in a box)
This confirms my thoughts on a feeling heart. My experience of life is that it is a mixed bag of happy & sad, love and loss. Personally I would rather have the mixed bag, than switch my feelings off to a dull grey.
I have read for many people who describe their emotions as "switched off" or "locked up" and the 3 of swords often pops up for them later in the spread. It indicates the moment when they start to feel pain, start to allow themselves to process the difficult emotions that they had previously felt unable to deal with.
I would like to note that I may refer to myself as a tarot counselor, but in these circumstances I often suggest people seek out a professional therapist to guide them through what can be a very difficult process.
The vital red colour
The background may be grey. Right now life may feel painful and difficult, but the bold red colour speaks to me of passion, anger & vitality. These emotions will return.
Emotions are like the weather, they drift in and out. Changeable, and not always predictable.
The symmetry of the swords thrust through the heart.
If I unpick the symbolism I see swords (words) struck through the heart. For me the answer is to speak honestly of your pain, whether to a friend or counselor. Speak your truth, express your pain.
And then my thoughts become more personal, for the symbol the swords make is a rune, and a rune I have worked with a lot. It is the hagl rune in the younger futhark. For me this represents the basis of all runes, and is the the teaching rune. (also to be found in the 2 of swords)
When I first started working with the tarot cards I strongly felt this meant the 3 of swords was a place- not to embrace as such- but a place to learn and grow in.
I'm not going to say I love this card (like say the 3 of cups or wands) but, I would rather feel pain and sadness, grow with them and feel love and joy.
Than feel nothing.
And sadness passes, pain lessens, happiness creeps in when we least expect it.
The 3 of swords reminds me to keep in touch with my emotions, to weep, laugh and love.
So I am glad to see this card crop up. It shows someone who is still feeling.
To me that is a blessing.