Exploring the Three of Swords

Welcome to Tarot Thursdays! This week we will be exploring the Three of Swords and how it can be used as a prompt or brainstorming in our writing.

Tarot is an interesting thing. It’s based upon symbolism and metaphors through imagery. With these images the subconscious mind is tapped into through the story provided. Not everyone gets the same thing from a piece of art. Each piece will influence each person in a slightly different way.

Introduction of the Card


The Three of Swords is card number 52 in the deck and the third card of the Sword Suit in the Minor Arcana of the Tarot.

Let’s take a look at the following examples of this card below.

Card Examples

L-s3Notice the similarities between them and take note of their differences. Do any of these move you more than the others? Take your time and allow these cards to tell you their story.

My Analysis of These Cards

In many decks, this is a very dramatic card visually and most people find it upsetting to see. I think it’s because for many people it’s easy to identify with it.

In the Mythic Tarot, there is the depiction of a betrayal going on. In the Universal Tarot, we see a man collapsing onto the ground from the pain he’s suffering. Really the it’s the Dragon Tarot one that feels distant to me emotionally, like the dragon here has just shut down and closed out the hurting as if to deny the pain exists.

The one I find truly striking here is the Tarot of Dreams card. The graceful nobility depicted in the woman suffering here. It’s clear she’s in pain and that’s she’s feeling it, but she’s trying ever so hard to keep it contained and to herself as if to not trouble anyone else with it.

How many of us have done that? I know that with all of these cards I have felt at one point or another this way and I think that’s what makes the imagery for this card, regardless of the deck, so powerful. It’s a universal experience unfortunately.

Themes of the Card

Each card has a set of keywords associated with it that serve as themes for its image. These keywords will vary somewhat depending on who you ask.

According to the Learning the Tarot website, the keywords associated with the card are:


You can learn more about what this site has to say about this card here.

According to the Biddy Tarot website, the keywords associated with the card are:


You can learn more about what this site has to say about this card here.

What this Card Means to Me

I know I mentioned this before over on the Chaos Pen how I felt this card is related to an old saying I grew up with that, “Hell is knowing the truth too late.” And there is also an old cliché going around of “The truth hurts.”

This card captures that pain and struggle. It doesn’t matter how you discover this “truth” or what this “truth” is, because it’s about how it’s hurting you and how you need to overcome it and heal from it.

It could be a choice you made back in the Two of Swords based on false information that has now come to light. It could be that the choice you made was rejected or shot down by others. Or even worse, this was something you knew was coming but understood it had to happen anyway and that’s why it hurts.

There are a host of reasons why the truth of something could bring pain. Unfortunately it’s a fact of the human experience that this is a part of our growth and development. This is just one of the many challenges that the journey through the Swords Suit represents for us all.

The key phrase I choose for this card is: PAINFUL TRUTH.

Music Playlist

In this spirit of all this, these are the songs I have picked out for this card.

The Writing Exercise

This exercise is a free write. Permit yourself to write whatever comes to mind based upon the theme of this card. Choose a keyword or key phrase and run with it to see what you come up with.

I would love it if you linked or pinged back what you wrote so I could see where you went with this.

Happy writing!

Mythic Tarot by Liz Greene (Author), Juliet Sharman-Burke (Author), Tricia Newell (Illustrator) © 1989
Dragon Tarot by Terry Donaldson (Author), Peter Pracownik (Author) © 1996
Universal Tarot by Lo Scarabeo (Author), R. De Angelis (Illustrator), A. E. Waite (Designer) © 2001
Tarot of Dreams by Ciro Marchetti (Author), Lee Bursten (Author) © 2015

2 thoughts on “Exploring the Three of Swords

  1. Pingback: Exploring Setting with Three of Swords – The Art of Chaos

  2. Pingback: Self-Care with Three of Swords – The Art of Chaos

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