Key Meaning: Sadness
The Three of Swords means you feel sad or disappointed. Allow the tears to flow and when you are ready, you will move forward again.
Number 3 Meaning In Tarot
All threes, including the Three of Cups, Three of Pentacles and Three of Wands represent external movement. When events begin to happen. Of course, not every event in life is a happy one, like saying goodbye to someone, a place, a dream or a time in your life. Yet, goodbyes are an inevitable part of life. The 3 of Swords represents sadness and the release of emotions like hurt, sorrow, disappointment or loss.
Three of Swords Keywords
😒 Upright: Separation, grieving, disappointment, moving on
🥰 Reversed: Recovery, healing, spiritual knowledge
Three of Swords Description
This description is based on the Rider Waite Tarot Deck. A heart is pierced by three downward thrusting swords. Heavy rain is falling, implying that tears need to be shed. The image was taken directly from the late 15th century Sola-Busca deck and so it is a truly historical tarot card. In a rapidly changing world, one thing has not changed, and that is heart-break. Tears have been a universal human companion throughout the ages.
This card recognises that some problems can’t be solved. Your suffering may be the result of a life-alerting event such as the loss of a loved one, a relationship breakup or a job loss. Or it could reflect something less dramatic like hurt feelings, or disappointment at not getting the job or winning the prize you wanted.
RELATIONSHIPS: What does The Three of Swords Mean when You Ask About Love?
When the 3 of Swords turns up in a love reading, the meaning will depend on whether or not you are in a relationship.
💖 If you asked will I find love? – the answer is, unlikely in the near future. You need healing, and are gently guided to focus on loving yourself first.
💖 If you asked how does he or she feel about me? – unfortunately they are not interested in pursuing a relationship with you. Either they don’t feel you are the right person for them, or they are not interested in a relationship with anyone at this time. Just remember, what or who is meant for you, won’t pass you by. Keep smiling.
💖 This card can indicate a separation or divorce. However, it can also indicate the physical separation of a couple due to work or other issues – it may be that one person in the relationship travels frequently or lives in another city but that they miss each other – the relationship may be perfectly strong and happy.
Other Relationship Messages (romantic, family and friends)
💖 You miss someone and feel lonely. It could be a partner, a child who has flown the nest, a child you miscarried, or someone who has passed over. This too shall pass.
💖 It is time for you to be more up front about telling people what you want from them, what your own needs are. You can take this a step further and ask them what their needs might be. It is possible that you think you already know. This card is a warning to think otherwise.
Grief: What does This Card Signify when You Ask About a Loss?
This card often signifies moving on spiritually – you feel in your heart that you have changed and that there is no going back to the way things used to be. This may have been triggered by an emotional loss, like the loss of a loved one, or a standard of living. Or it may simply be, that you realize there is more to life than simply breathing.
Right now, you may still be feeling lost and maybe confused or lonely.
If so, let me put your mind at rest: You cannot lose your way in a purposeful universe conspiring in your favor. Although it may not appear that way, contained within your uncertainty is the opportunity to reconnect with the spiritual part of yourself. It is time for your spiritual journey.
Common Reasons for Grief represented by The 3 of Swords
Divorce or relationship breakup
Losing a job
Loss of health
Loss of financial stability
Death of a pet
Selling the family home
Loss of a cherished dream
A loved one’s serious illness
Loss of a friendship
Loss of safety after a trauma
CAREER: What does This Card Signify when You Ask About Work?
If your question relates to work, business, career or study and you receive the Three of Swords, then the guidance is:
⭕ You experience a disappointment, perhaps you don’t receive the exam result or college placement you wanted as your first choice.
⭕ You don’t get the job or receive the project, client, promotion or payout that you want.
⭕ You may experience a job loss, or you are retiring or accepting a redundancy. There is a sense of saying ‘goodbye’ (even if you want the change) which is sad.
⭕ Careers and industries associated with the 3 of Swords include: Counseling, human resources, law, insurance, self-help, health & safety, compliance, fraud detection and security.
MONEY: What is the Meaning of The 3 of Swords in a Money Reading?
💲 If you asked the Tarot about money and finances, and you receive the Three of Swords, it means you experience a financial loss. Perhaps investments don’t do as well as you hope, or assets are being divided in a divorce. Or it may simply be that someone takes something from you, or does not pay you back.
💲 When you are ready, it is time to put a plan in place and rebuild your finances.
Tarot Card Combination Meanings
“3 of Swords combined with Lovers” – A painful or difficult divorce or separation.
“3 of Swords combined with The Sun” – This sadness sets you on the path for a happier life.
“3 of Swords combined with The Empress” – Successful pregnancy after miscarriage.
HEALTH: What does The 3 of Swords Mean when You Ask About Health?
When you ask about health and the 3 of Swords turns up – it can signify disappointment. Maybe your health is not as good as you hoped, and it requires treatment or surgery. Or, you may simply be aware of failing health and this saddens you.
YES/NO: Does The 3 of Swords Mean Yes or No in a Reading?
❓ When you ask a Yes or No question and the Three of Swords turns up, then the answer is NO.
TIMING: Does The 3 of Swords Predict any Particular Timeframe?
🕔 This card is only a timing indication when you specifically asked a timeframe question. For example, if you want to know if something will happen, and when, then you need to draw two separate cards. These are in fact, two separate questions. This is a fundamental principle to understand if you want an accurate tarot reading – and it is core to my teaching in my book Tarot in 5 Minutes.
🕔 Using my timing method, the Three of Swords is about 3 days. If the card is reversed, timing will be slightly longer – so up to 5 days.
Karina’s Timing Method:
Swords are days. Wands are weeks. Cups are months and Pentacles are years. Please note this is my personal timing method. Feel free to adopt it (or not).
What is the Meaning of The Three of Swords Reversed?
When the 3 of Swords is upside down then it becomes a much happier card. It means:
✔️You are moving past your disappointment or grief. Your heart is in recovery and there is acceptance.
✔️Your spiritual journey has deepened your awareness of your purpose and understanding of the world. Now you are ready to share with others.
✔️It may be necessary to give someone a bit of tough love.
Share This Article
3 of Swords Symbolism
Read Next!– Three of Swords Symbols
Complete List: Tarot Card Meanings
Karina, author of Tarot in 5 Minutes.