Three of Swords – Lord of Sorrow

The Three of Swords is the Universal archetype of Sorrow and Negative thinking. This is the state of sorrow which is held and re-worked in the mind,  thinking about the past, in particular dwelling on past experiences that produced a sorrowful heart and mourning for the past. The Swords piercing symbolize sorrow that has pierced to the very core of our nature.


  • Grief, Sadness
  • “Lord of Sorrow”
  • The second decade of Libra from 3 October to 12 October.
  • Astrological equivalents: Saturn in Libra, Aquarius and seventh house.
  • Mars / Moon as a symbol of insulted feelings.
  • The aspect with Mercury – where a decision taken contrary to the senses.
  • The occult significance – the gap.


“Without forms or reason, the mind must give way to a consciousness higher than itself. The Three of Swords represents the wondrous trance of sorrow that first enlightened the Buddha. We should all be so lucky to draw Sorrow from the deck.”

– Understanding Allister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot (Lon Milo DuQuette)

General Meaning in A Spread

Three of Swords always puts on a kind of incompatibility issues, unnecessary sharpness of communication. The card is generally cheerless; it portends a tense unpleasant time. Three of Swords brings quarrels and anxieties, anger, and conflicts of interest. This is test on your “emotional lousiness” (sorry, rough but accurate). It carries an unpleasant thoughts on life lessons. If cups  represent color of a heart, then Swords represent “color of the head.”

What a person feels goes on a second plan, a person goes over a fog of emotional idealization, and sees how things really are. The 3 of Swords is a card of a “head”, but showed bleeding heart. It is when your heart and thoughts go separate ways, and you are unable to make a decision because it will be equally painful.

It is more likely that a person makes a choice in spite of his or her feelings (a person has to give up, to renounce something that is very dear). It is hard to judge where what he or she does is cowardice, or, conversely, a step forward, it can be understood only by knowing it all. Somebody’s feeling brutally suppressed by the mind – when the mind dictates to escape from any dependency. This step, though painful, but necessary.

In old readings, it was said that a person was awaiting a very painful farewell because a person has to leave, and a person suffers from this decision most.

Personal Feelings

It describes a person who goes (1) over suffering and/or (2) a person is causing suffering. In the first case, a person goes through pain, sadness, severe emotional conflict. In the second case – he is to sacrifice both his and another’s person heart. He is ruthlessness and will not hesitate to inflict deep wounds. Often a person simply behaves this or her “natural” way, and does not understand what he or she is doing. A person is not happy how he or she acts, and a person does not realize the depth of the wounds he is causing to others. He rationalistic, critical and do not believe in unrequited love. His or her cup is drained, dried, cracked and broke.”). A person is capable of destroying all that is dear to her or her own heart – and destroy the other person’s heart.

A person has constant frustration, disagreement with reality, failure to perceive reality because of gravity of the heart. A person can feel  antipathy, and act unsociable, feeling mismatch with those who are close, contrasting himself or herself to them . A person feels like he or she is forced to move in the direction that a person does not like to go.

A person is now in a state of crisis. A person does not know what he or she wants, since mind and heart are at odds. Intellectually he might be aware of what steps to take, but in his or her soul everything rebels against it.

On a Deeper Spiritual Level

Three of Swords is always symbolizes a desire for an unattainable ideals, rejection of reality and at the same time a failure of letting this reality go. A person’s attempts to solve a problem by unsuitable means. A person needs to obtain a mystery of initiation and change himself or herself inwardly.

The second decade of Libra expresses an idea of ​​determining the boundaries of thought: the identification of logical laws that allow the mind to bring a clear judgment on any issue.

Saturn in this position is reflecting the ability to comply with established rules for the sake of overall harmony. A person has strong aspirations for inner completeness and perfection. The problem is that a person has a fear of novelty or any uncertainty.  A person of Three of Swords can be peculiar of excessive self-restraint, distrust of an outside world and other people, as potential sources of bringing disharmony to his or her life.

A Life Lesson of This Card

It is important to timely switch from searching of harmony within ourselves to sea the harmony in a world of dynamic relationships. Our thoughts, developing, moving; — as well as a constantly changing life. We can see a heart pierced by three swords. Reflecting heart’s sadness from the clouds is a rain in the background. This picture as it reminds us that a world is based on contradictions, and its attainment of knowledge, connected with sorrow: any law, even a law of life, imposes severe human responsibility. Human thoughts should humble before laws of the universe – and a person ought to accept that before it did not fit into his or her consciousness.

Behind these seemingly abstract words is the simple truth. One of the most painful conditions of a person is “loss of illusions.” Behind this, could be a collapse of a whole what a person allowed himself to believe in.He wanted his illusions to be true at some point. Each of us has a heart, and everyone has dreams. We practice a concentration and meditation every day, enjoying an idea of what a world should be. But then we feel that we are nothing in comparison with a world, which is different, huge, – different that we imagined it to be. The lesson of the card is – stop being afraid, stop being worried, – wake up and make an effort to see the world for what it really is and be happy.

We can race a world heads-on with our brightest dreams, but we should not expect that a world will turn away first.  We need to make an effort to get rid of the fog of our views and understand what the world  actually is, we will be able to see how it becomes a more similar to our dreams.

Light and Shadow (tips and warning)

Tip: drink a bitter cup of truth.Take sorrow pierced the heart and rejoice. You need to apply modesty, patience, and humbleness. The dilemma of the heart won’t be resolved until  you find a way to establish a lost balance (Libra).

Warning: Do not attempt to take a decision contrary to a heart. In that case, whatever you think is wrong and changing. The broken heart cannot think. Practice concentration and meditation until you mind becomes peaceful and happy again and then your heart will know what to do.

Professional Environment

Countering businesses, delay. Poor prospects. Swords are “the suit of the head” – with a presence of Three of Swords headache is guaranteed. Failures, loss or damage. The threat of bankruptcy. Firing. Breaking business relations. Termination of contracts. Crushing power.

Disappointment in choosing a profession or at current position in the office – something that was very appreciated before, and now is inconsistent with the expectations (“disillusionment”).

This card may show a growing aversion to work – duties seem heavy and unpleasant. A person barely drags himself to work, cursing – bosses, clients, and colleagues. Loneliness, depression due to a need to be engaged in what his or her soul does want to do. It is time to open eyes to what a person really needs, and to give strength to follow a new path!

Personal Relations

Meaning of a broken heart Three of Swords clear to everyone, even to those who first sees it – love torment. Sometimes Three of Swords indicates only a fact that at present a questioner feels anxiety, fear, pain and loss, although there may be for any reason for it.

A traumatic encounter has happened. Relations laid a shadow, or even a deep emotional wound. Three of Swords shows incompatibility of a situation due to conflicting interests despite of desperate attempts to achieve harmony.

The situation possibly started as a love triangle. One of the parties got a third-party that caused the rupture. A partner knows “the whole truth”. Inability to select between the lovers and nobody is leaving. Broken heart, disappointment in love, sorrow. Now the union is fragile.

According to Three of Swords a person can feel a heartbreaking longing for what a person is lost. Interesting, the suffering usually is the one who actually decided to get involved in other relationship having everything perfect before and just minor unsaid truths.

One of the oldest interpretations is monasticism – after such a drama  in life, people cannot get involved with any more partners.

It is interesting that, in practice, this is the card is a widower card and more severe for a man than a woman.

A man who has lost his ability to love, and lives out-of-mourning even his former love is next to him. A man is a brilliant expert in the prime of his life aware of what causes condemnation and lack of understanding of society, but he feels like there is no one for him any more. There was no “then”, there was no “after”.

Reversed card

Partnerships alienation, resistance to pain, unwillingness to acknowledge the sadness, which makes it difficult to heal. Heart is frozen, and a person does not feel anything, even pain.

In reversed position, Three of Swords a negative aspects are enhanced, giving a complete mental confusion (swords still suit “head”): illusions, delusions, hallucinations, distraction, distraction, and fatal errors. Miscalculations, loss, confusion in the affairs (which may well be the cause of a broken heart). At least here, a person makes mistakes and probably abuses relations, yet he or she does not realize it.

It is also a possibility that a person made a compromise between his heart and his feelings.

Sorrow is knowledge. They, who know the most,
must mourn the deepest over the fatal truth.
The Tree of Knowledge is not that of Life. Byron

“The Three of Swords reflects a tendency in the mind to rework the old bones of the past, and particularly the parts of the past that contain sorrow or negativity. This is sorrow that could have resurfaced in the last three months… how we will handle subsequent triangles, whether they are friend-co-worker-friend, or friend-sibling-mate or friend-lover-mate.”

– Angeles Arrien (The Tarot Handbook)

“This card is dark and heavy; it is, so to speak, the womb of Chaos. There is an intense lurking passion to create, but its children are monsters. This may mean the supreme transcendence of the natural order. Secrecy is here, and Perversion.”

– The Book of Thoth (Allister Crowley)


Keywords – distance. personality conflict. Separation. Concerned about the love. Shadow business.
Direct  – removal
Reversed – misleading
In Direct position, Three of Swords promises tears and sobs, broken love. conflict, egoism and selfishness, also shows that a questionnaire  commits a dishonest act and tries to justify means. Three of Swords means that something is lost at this point in time, delayed for an indefinite period of time.
In the reversed position, Three of Swords foretells various kinds of errors, inquiring a questioner’s view of things a little conformable to common sense. In business, there prevail or is already a mess, mental confusion – not in the physical sense, but something obviously causes a person to do stupid things, and conflicts are coming. The war is not far off – even if it is a storm in a teacup.
With the Wheel of fortune – luck gets tired quickly
With Lovers – friends marriage is under attack, though it could be just a quarrel – look at positive cards.

Positive Path of Three of Swords

A person needs to fulfill his promises of the past. Then a natural cycle will bring renewal confession, generosity, breakthrough mirth in Platonic pleasures; faithfulness in promises in the future, concern honesty in money transactions, the whole according to dignity.

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