Three of Swords Tarot Card Meanings

Three of Swords tarot card image
Meaning Indicator


Three of Swords’ Upright & Reversed Meanings

Three of Swords (Reversed, Lacking)

Ideas: Kindness, mend, support

Traits: Empathetic, forgiving, gentle, honest, inoffensive, lovable, sensitive

Emotions: Caring, compassion, gladness, relief, tenderness

  • Actions:
    • Following what your heart desires
    • Leaving a toxic situation that is soul-crushing
    • Moving past heartbreak to embrace a painful truth
    • Silencing your inner critic
    • Standing up for what is right for you
    • Stopping lying to yourself
Three of Swords (Upright, Balanced)

Ideas: Conflict, disaffection, heartache

Traits: Blunt, critical, contradictory, deceptive, precise, patient, tough

Emotions: Disappointment, dismay, displeasure, hurt, nervousness, uneasiness

  • Actions:
    • Acknowledging that things don’t always turn out as planned
    • Being brave enough to see things as they really are
    • Being your own best critic
    • Enduring the pain
    • Exercising your critical eye
    • Hitting the nail on the head
Three of Swords (Upright, Excessive)

Ideas: Harshness, offense, wreckage

Traits: Cruel, disrespectful, inhibited, insensitive, intolerant, repressed, unlovable, vulnerable

Emotions: Despair, humiliation, insult, misery, neglect, rejection, sorrow

  • Actions:
    • Allowing yourself to be completely crushed by the thoughts, words, or deeds of another
    • Holding yourself to an unrealistic standard of excellence
    • Insulting yourself
    • Judging yourself too harshly
    • Wallowing in despair
    • Wearing your heart on your sleeve while carrying a chip on your shoulder

Three of Swords’ Advice

Personal Growth

If at first you don’t succeed, try again. It’s an old cliché, but an important mantra for anyone determined to make the most of what he or she has been given. If recent efforts have fallen short, you must make a choice: despair … or embody the spirit of determination.


If things aren’t turning out as planned, it’s time to adjust your expectations … or look elsewhere. Don’t allow rejection to deliver a fatal blow; you’ve lots to offer those who can appreciate it. It’s okay to mourn the loss of a friend or lover—but don’t let mourning become a way of avoiding further growth and new experiences.


You may find yourself playing the role of the lone wolf; for now, that’s okay. Things don’t always turn out as planned. Rather than pull out your hair, retrace your steps and identify objectively what went wrong. This information will come in handy in the future.


In the midst of heartbreak, it’s not always possible to sit back and ask, “What lesson does Spirit have for me in this situation?” Give yourself time to move past emotional responses; once you do, you can think in terms of what an event might teach you.

Three of Swords’ Symbols & Insights

The Pierced Heart

This imagery, adapted from one of the earliest illustrated decks, doesn’t require a great deal of interpretation; it’s meaning is clear to everyone who sees it. In your own situation, what role does disappointment play?

The Rain

Few things dampen our spirits like a pouring rain, particularly if we’re already distraught. Talk of silver linings may do little more than irritate us when the clouds are directly overhead. Still, it’s good to realize that the weather will change, and that the rain won’t last forever.

Variation from Expectation

Many disappointments are rooted in unrealistic expectations. How might letting go of expectations help you think more clearly about the realities of your situation?

The Marseilles Image

The hardy blossom we saw on the Two has been split and destroyed by the arrival of a straight, solid Sword. Have any of your own decisions had unintended consequences lately? How might your own decisions have contributed to the setback you’re facing now?

More About Three of Swords Tarot Card

Breakups and infidelity abound.
What hurts now, though, will turn out to be good for you later on.
Between October 3 and October 12
“I learn from failures and setbacks.”
Numerology Number
(the result: expression, productivity, output)
Astrology Element
Astrology Planet in Sign
Saturn in Libra
The main character sees the error of his or her ways and changes course.
Questions to Ask
How can I get past my depression?
To what extent are my emotions a matter of choice?
How can I learn from the mistakes of the past?
Related Pages
Tarot Card Meanings Guide
Exploring Today’s Tarot
Consulting the Tarot
Traditional Tarot Card Meanings
Thirteen Fun Things to Do with Tarot Cards
Where to Go to Learn More
More Tarot Card Meaningss