The Three of Swords often appears in a reading when we are feeling a deep hurt or great sorrow; this is often as a result of how we have been treated by someone, or several people, around us. Sometimes this is a situation that has come on suddenly, and there may be a shock in the mix of our emotions, too.
The card advises us to look our pain in the eye: there can be no denying such anguish, and to process our emotions rather than repressing them. Now is a time to cry, or grieve, or withdraw for a time if that is what we need to do to get through the storm of feelings that we are experiencing. However, the Three of Swords has another message, which is intrinsically tied to the first: that of hope. The heart has been pierced, for sure: but, once the swords are removed, this will allow light to flow into the wounds, which will seal themselves once more. The Three is a promise of better things: as in the picture, the rainclouds will pass, and our hearts will be even stronger when they do.
Often, the reversed Three of Swords is asking us whether we are accepting the things that have happened and suggests that, if we know in our hearts we have not, this could be blocking us from being able to fully heal. The card can appear, too, when we remain committed to the pain to the point of not wanting or being able to see our way out into the world again. Where this is the case, the Three asks us to take steps to release our heartbreak, through counseling or seeking new experiences, for example, to tread the path laid out for us once more.
Either upright or reversed, the Three of Swords’ message is that the sorrow we may be feeling is a temporary one and that we can survive it. Our hearts may bear the scars of the wounds that have been inflicted, but such scars are part of the unique tapestries of our lives and experiences.