Three of Swords Tarot Card

Three of Swords Tarot Card Meanings

What does the Three of Swords card mean in a Tarot Reading?

It’s time for the not-so-pleasant Arcana – 3 of Swords. This is one of the cards of the suit of Swords. It is foreshadowing something bad, painful, difficult. But you do not need to be afraid of it. With the correct understanding of the meaning of the card in the spread, you will be able to determine the correct further path for yourself.
Against the background of rain falling from heavy clouds, a heart is depicted pierced by three swords. These are “three griefs”, three problems that torment a person. To find out what they are, you should draw three more cards, each of which will correspond to one of the problems.
This card is usually drawn by a person who focuses all his attention on one problem, while he actually has much more problems. In any case, what he grieves about is not the most important thing for him now, but he does not know about it or does not want to think about it.
The pessimistic atmosphere of the card very accurately conveys its meaning: melancholy, resentment, frustration, failure.

Goal: The Wisdom of Restraint
Element: Air
Planet: Saturn, Mars, Moon
Astrological sign: Libra, Aquarius


In the sky hangs a heart pierced by three swords. Thunderclouds are gathering menacingly in the sky and it is raining. This card is traditionally called “The Lord of Sorrows”.
(For a detailed depiction, analysis of the Symbols and all Elements of the Three of Swords Tarot Card, click here).

The Main Meanings of the Card In an Upright Position

Key Words and Phrases

Emotional thunderstorm. A loss. Chagrin. Emotional pain. Lost love. Relationship problems. Violent emotions. Narcissistic resentment. Irritability. Quarreling. Conflicts. Misunderstanding. Alienation. Disharmony. Coup. Nervous behavior. Sadness. Pain. Bad luck. Surgery. Upsetting changes.

Three of Swords Tarot Card Meanings

Well-being depends on the weather (feelings change like the weather). Stress. Tension. Disease. Cry. Grief. Sorrow. Darkness before dawn. Depth of feelings. Crack. Separation. Divorce. Rejection. Refusal. Loss of a loved one. Tears. Miscarriage. Heart problems. Abortion. Funeral. Obituary. Death. Painful news. Touch the inner core.

The main meanings of the card in an upright position

do not dwell on one problem, as there are many of them;
3 problems (to clarify each, draw three more cards);
broken heart;
stormy weather in search of love;
quarrel with a partner, family quarrels;
conflict, break;
advice: conduct honestly the affairs of the heart; open up to new things;
ordering chaos;
a choice made against feelings;
unhappy love;
emotional thunderstorm;
narcissistic resentment;
surgical intervention;
well-being and feelings depend on the weather;
miscarriage, abortion;

Three of Swords. Witchcraft Tarot by Ellen Dugan
Witchcraft Tarot by Ellen Dugan

misanthropy, rudeness;
“love triangle”;
removal, absence, elimination, scattering (clarification), distance;
neglect, disgust, repulsion, hatred, loss of taste, disgust;
incompatibility, opposition (opposite);
resistance, lack of communication;
absence of something, painful loss;
the need to abandon the past;
separation, misfortune;
new opportunities;
parting, breaking up relations (love, business, friendship, relatives);
heart drama, love triangle, treason;
conflicts with others, confrontation;

Situation and Advice

Three of Swords says that you have something to grieve and something to cry about. You are under stress or are very worried about the fact that a loved one has left you. It is very important to consider where your sadness will lead.

Three of Swords. Tarot of Consequences by Corrine Kenner, Pietro Alligo
Tarot of Consequences by Corrine Kenner, Pietro Alligo

Perhaps you need to break up with someone or get out of the situation if such a relationship brings you nothing but heartache. This card can predict illness or say that your well-being in the near future will be closely dependent on the weather. This is a card of a gap, a necessary clipping of unnecessary ones. Sometimes it indicates a major surgery or complex dental problems. Be careful and don’t push your loved one away just because you feel tense and irritable.
Sometimes the Three of Swords portends death. We can talk about death if there are several cards in the spread that portend it, for example, Tower, Death, cards with a large number of Swords, many cards in an inverted position, etc. However, most often the presence of the three of Swords in the spread indicates that the questioner will receive the news of the death of an acquaintance or loved one.

Persons designated by Upright Three of Swords Tarot Сard

Abandoned people. People in grief. Annoyed people. People under stress. Those with a bad heart.

The Main Meanings of the Card In a Reversed Position

Key Words and Phrases

Recovery. The worst is over. You have experienced separation, but the pain continues. Less painful breakup. Unwillingness to let go of the pain of the past. Long-term regret and depression. Uncomplicated surgical operations.

The main meanings of the card in a reversed position

a situation of many problems is already in the past;
a loss;
the worst is over;
unwillingness to let go of the pain of the past;
simple surgical operations;
delusion, insanity, mental disorder;
mental pain is even stronger than with the upright position of the card;
delirium, insanity, extravagant behavior;
disorder in business, mistakes;
bitterness, prolonged mental anguish;
obsessive experiences, self-pity;
resentment and disappointment;
regrets about the past and what cannot be changed;
error, defect, detour, evasion.

Three of Swords. Guardian Angels Tarot
Guardian Angels Tarot

Situation and Advice

The pain in the heart subsides. You have experienced a rather painful situation that is already coming to an end. The suffering was unbearable, and for some time it will continue. There is nothing you can do to restore a broken relationship. Now that the worst is over, recovery awaits you. Although parting is inevitable, it will still not be as painful as if the three of Swords were present in the upright position. If your question was about health, then you may have a minor surgery or a visit to the dentist. A meeting with a person with whom you once made a compromise is possible.

Persons designated by the Reversed Three of Swords Tarot Сard

Rejected loved ones. Nun.

In the Spreads

The general meaning of the card is clear from its image. Arcana conveys sadness, a broken state, unfulfilled desires, mental pain, depression. This is a difficult period in life when you just need to hold on, take care of yourself and wait for the situation to improve.
The simplest and most obvious explanation for this card is that it represents a broken heart. When looking for love, stormy weather awaits you. There are conflicts and strife in the family, and lovers may part as a result of a quarrel. In addition, this card can indicate general concepts such as separation, rupture, dispersion and conflict. However, this card also has a positive side. It urges us to conduct affairs of the heart with integrity, to be faithful and direct in our relationships, and to shy away from emotional manipulation of our beloved. The Three of Swords also denotes the ordering of chaos, so here we are invited to open our hearts to new understanding and perception of the situation in order to get away from the established views or belief systems that we firmly adhere to.
The upright and reversed values ​​are similar, but there is still a difference. It is especially remarkable in that the reversed Arcana is often more positive. Details below.
The card means sharpness in communication, intolerance and incompatibility. There are many quarrels, worries, grievances, minor troubles. Anger at life, people. The card portends a life lesson. Testing the strength of relationships and people.
The Three of Swords rips off the masks, shows the essence of the matter as it is. All illusions and idealizations collapse. The truth of life is perceived painfully and acutely. The bleeding heart on the card symbolizes the refusal to accept the situation. You need to take the final step, to make the last decision it will be very difficult to do emotionally.
The man made a choice without taking into account his feelings, and used only the rational thinking. Whether this was done out of fear or for practicality, you can find out by looking at the other cards in the spread. There are two possible interpretation options: either feelings are suppressed by reason, or with the help of reason a person gets out of the dependence of his feelings.
The value of Three of Swords depends on other cards in the spread. At the same time, the step that needs to be taken is necessary to resolve the situation. The card indicates long, painful partings, separation, departure, heartache, worry, if there are Six of Swords or Eight of Cups in the spread.
It may indicate the absence within reach of something important for a person, alienation, emptiness in the soul, reclusion, distancing from everyone. Surrounded by a large number of negative cards, the Three of Swords indicates grief, trouble that will be difficult to survive. The nearest cards will show with what resources and how quickly it will be possible to get out of the situation. If there are Pages, Knights or Eight of Wands in the spread, then the card indicates an unpleasant message.
It is not always clear what troubles the Three of Swords promises. From the outside it may seem that a person is doing well. To precise this, you need to take three more cards to clarify the situation. It may not be just a disaster in the material world. Most likely, in this situation, there may be some kind of negative feeling that scratches in the soul, but cannot come out or a harbinger of trouble on the intuitive plane. Perhaps there are many small problems in a person’s life, but he is fixated on one and cannot solve it in any way, not noticing others. All these troubles hang like a continuous veil over a person for so long that he stopped noticing them, resigned himself and learned to live with them.

In an Upright Position

Three of Swords is an unhappy card that speaks of deep sorrow. In the life of the client, there is a conflict that causes mental pain. The reason for it is a break with a business or personal partner. Like Death in the Major Arcana, the Three of Swords shows that the end of one event can mean the beginning of something new, especially if the client soberly evaluates his problems. Change will undoubtedly bring resentment and a sense of alienation.
The value of the card Three of Swords is parting, separation, rupture, divorce. The severance of personal and business relationships. Crushing property and power. Quarreling. Infidelity. Sorrow. A “love triangle” is possible. A third party (or a new event or interest) appeared on the stage and caused the breakup. Parting will not be amicable. Be prepared for quarrels, anger, even hatred.
The Three of Swords in a direct position in fortune-telling and spreads speaks not only of sadness and grief, but also of active conflict, seething feelings of anger and irritation. Arcana carries information about human weakness, lack of will, about the collapse of illusions and intentions, about helplessness in the face of problems and difficulties. The Three of Swords always symbolizes the pursuit of an unattainable ideal, the rejection of reality and, at the same time, the inability to escape from this reality. Or, in other words, an attempt to solve a problem in inappropriate ways.
In the upright position, the Three of Swords indicates a serious mental wound. The presence of this card in the spread may mean that people you trusted insulted you, offended or betrayed.
It can be about cheating on a loved one, cheating on a business partner, betraying a close friend, or simply about painful disagreements, conflicts and quarrels. In any case, the Three of Swords means deep feelings, injustice, a break or crack in a relationship with a loved one, a conflict.
However, the Arcana testifies that, despite the severity of the experiences that have fallen, they are like a thunderstorm that passes. Let the wounds of the heart be deep, but time can heal them. The main thing is not to lose stamina and fortitude.

In a Reversed Position:

If the Three of Swords card is in an Reversed position, it means the strengthening of the negative qualities of the upright card. The client feels the mental anguish deeper, the separation is more painful and fierce, and this whole gloomy situation drags on for a long time.
The meaning of the reversed Three of Swords Tarot card is confusion, mental disorder. Errors, absent-mindedness. You may find it difficult to figure out what to do. In this case, the loss will be even greater. This is the breakdown of partnerships. Remember this, otherwise you will lose too much.
In a reversed position, the Three of Swords further enhances its negative aspects, complicating the problems with various kinds of consequences. The situation can become chaotic, confusing, or unmanageable. Strife is multiplying and threatens to turn into open violence. A person is not able to figure out what is happening and makes more and more mistakes.
In the reversed position, the Three of Swords indicates that heavy grievances have ripened in your soul. Perhaps these are grievances against life, or maybe we are talking about specific people. However, no matter how well-founded these grievances may seem to you, the reversed Three of Swords indicates that they are largely contrived.
Try to look at the situation from the outside and honestly answer the question: are you exaggerating? Or maybe it is time to forget some things, as their due time has expired?
In any case, remember that with your grievances you can harm yourself first of all. The Three of Swords tells you that it is the time to let them go. When you get rid of longing and fruitless experiences, you will be amazed at how everything will change!

In the Spreads for Different situation

In an Upright Position:
Three of Swords of the Tarot in the spreads for a situation means failure, bad luck, unfulfilled desires, frustration. What you are waiting for is unlikely to come true now. Better to wait for a better moment for action.
In a Reversed Position:
A difficult situation or unfavorable circumstances will soon disappear. It will be difficult for you for a while, but in the future everything will change for the better. Engage in the restoration of the soul, work on further plans.

In the Spreads for Relationship

In an Upright Position:
In love, 3 of Swords means a broken heart. It can be both quarrels or misunderstandings, betrayal, infidelity. Parting with a partner or divorce is possible. If you want to keep the relationship, it’s best not to make any big decisions right now.
In the sphere of relationships and love, the straight Three of Swords most often denotes unhappy love and a love triangle.

Three of Swords. Black Grimoire Tarot
Black Grimoire Tarot

This is disappointment, and resentment, and mutual reproaches, often ending in a break in relations due to betrayal and dishonesty of a partner. Sometimes the card symbolizes the fear of losing a loved one, mental suffering and anguish, hopes that are not going to come true.

In a Reversed Position:
A reversed card in the sphere of relationships will most often also mean a difficult period, but it will be temporary. If there is a quarrel, then there is a chance to make up. If there is a break, then come together again, etc. It can symbolize the end of feelings, mutual cooling or unwillingness to solve problems. Other cards of the spread usually indicate this value.
Often, a reversed Three of Swords indicates an initially fragile union, obviously doomed to rupture. But traditionally this is the cooling of relations, and the almost complete impossibility of their restoration. This position of the card indicates that harmony in relationships cannot be achieved under any circumstances. At the level of events, the Reversed Three of Swords denotes revealed betrayal, unpleasant details of the past that have ceased to be secret, or carefully hidden moments of life.

In the Spreads for Dates

In an Upright Position:
Perhaps disappointment in love, but only temporary. All goes to good.
In a Reversed Position:
You are gnawing at a relationship that didn’t work out.

In the Spreads for Family

In an Upright Position:
Recent troubles have brought your family together.
In a Reversed Position:
Some of the family members may die, or leave home, or simply go far enough, or something similar happened quite recently.

In the Spreads for Friendship

In an Upright Position:
You left your friends behind, or it will soon be, because you are pursuing your own goals. You will lose friends, but have no regrets. You are very excited about the possibilities of the future.
In a Reversed Position:
You feel incompatible with your friends and it hurts you. Remind yourself that we are all different and that we find ourselves isolated at times. This is part of growing up.

In the Spreads for Money

In an Upright Position:
Losses, money losses, bankruptcy.
This is a good time to settle financial problems.
In a Reversed Position:
There will be delays, obstacles and frustrations.
The financial condition is average, there are possible monetary losses, unplanned expenses.

In the Spreads for Education

In an Upright Position:
Your reputation and grades are not so good right now, but you are determined to work and will be able to improve your grades.
In a Reversed Position:
You may have started attending a different school or transferred to a different class. It’s never easy at first, but give yourself time. The situation will improve.

In the Spreads for Career

Three of Swords. Mirage Valley Tarot by Barbara Moore
Mirage Valley Tarot by Barbara Moore

In an Upright Position:
Here the card predicts a lack of prospects, bad luck, failures, project disruptions, sometimes even dismissal. If it is possible to minimize negative consequences, now is the time to work in this direction.
In this area, a straight Three of Swords means that at work you will have to go through any troubles that may end in dismissal, significant losses, conflict with business partners or with work colleagues. Sometimes Arcana reports the collapse of a project or transaction due to force majeure. The most negative meaning of the card is bankruptcy and complete failure of the plan. However, the straight Three of Swords does not always carry such a gloomy prediction. In most cases, the card denotes losses or cessation of the receipt of funds from additional sources of income.

In a Reversed Position:
Indicates a lack of pleasure in work, dissatisfaction with the results of work, disappointment in the chosen profession, etc. Everything leads to a state of dissatisfaction and fatigue.
Being one of the undoubtedly negative Arcana of the Tarot deck, the Three of Swords in a reversed position means scandals, misconceptions about business partners, complete alienation in the work team, which, most likely, will not be based on emotions, but will be the result of concerted collective actions of people interested in this. Contracts can be broken, partnerships broken.

In the Spreads for Health

In an Upright Position:
For health reasons, it usually indicates heart problems: heart attack, chronic diseases, heart failure, other abnormalities of the cardiovascular system.
Prolonged depression, poor health, heart disease.
In a Reversed Position:
The reversed Arcana Tarot of the 3 of Swords, justlike the upright one, symbolizes problems with the cardiovascular system. Moreover, they can be quite serious, it is better to check with a doctor.
Kidney and urinary tract stones, unsuccessful surgery, sometimes death.

Answer to Yes / No Tarot Spreads

In an Upright Position:
No and cannot be
In a Reversed Position:

Self-Development Lesson

Wisdom and understanding are born from suffering. Love is possible only when honesty prevails in the relationship.

Type of person in an upright position:

The card means a rude, cynical, even cruel person. Openly hates and despises others, uses people for his own purposes without any twinge of conscience. His dreams and whims are so contradictory that angers him even more.

Type of person in an reversed position:

It means a person who seeks to deeply analyze everything that happens around. In disputes, he prefers to keep neutrality until he is convinced who is right and who is wrong. He is distinguished by a humble disposition, a desire to stay away from conflicts and strife.

Three of Swords. The Tarot of the 78 Doors
The Tarot of the 78 Doors

Arcana’s warning

Don’t let the pain destroy your psyche and body. You need to be moderate in your sadness.

Final Advice of Arcana

Don’t let your sad thoughts rule your life. Treat failure as a new experience. Difficult circumstances won’t last forever.

In an Upright Position:
Do not keep negative emotions and experiences in yourself. Weep tears for what was lost and start rebuilding life.
In a Reversed Position:
Do not shake the air in vain, tears will not help grief. While wandering in the ruins, do not try to collect debris.


Three of Swords is a card of rupture, separation. Alliances, previously formed, fall apart due to discord, opposing interests, conflicts between parts. From the very beginning, the alliance was fragile and based on the self-interest of at least one of the parties. Now they are diverging. In this crash, defend your interests, because that’s what your old partner is doing. You must stay at the top. It will be a stressful and frustrating time, and things can go wrong as a result of this crash if you don’t look straight ahead.


Discover other Minor Arcana:

2 thoughts on “Three of Swords Tarot Card Meanings”

  1. I don’t know about anyone, but I have the three of swords – it was a period of great sorrow, scandals, breaking of old ties, material deprivation and spiritual trials for me and my loved ones, because this pain affected everyone in the family. This was a period in life when literally everything was bursting at the seams… it was a “knot” hardened by time, which should have been untied long ago, and many years ago it would have been much easier to do this, until dust rolled over and cemented onto it . This is a difficult stage that you need to go through courageously and with dignity, without getting dirty in the mud that envious people and rivals will pour on you over those three swords with which they will mercilessly pierce your soul at a favorable moment for them, wanting to get rid of you secretly and openly, by any means, when you don’t expect it at all… (it’s not for nothing that in many religions the heart is the seat of our soul).

    By the way, during this stage of life, one of the participants also had a micro-infarction, but everything turned out okay.

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