A Fresh Look at Old Tarot is an on-going series that features a Tarot card whose traditional meaning is examined and a fresh new meaning is offered for consideration and thought. Join me as I slap a fresh coat of meanings on centuries old Tarot!
For the maiden post in this series, I thought I would deconstruct the most heartbreaking Minor Arcana card there is, you guessed it, it’s the dreaded 3 of Swords! Any Tarot reader can tell you that the Three of Swords indicates pain, heartbreak, loss and suffering. Worse than that, it’s all fresh. Ouch! That cut’s still bleeding and shows no signs of clotting or drying up. Here’s the catch: that pain, loss and heartbreaking suffering is emotional.
But Genevieve, the suit of swords deals with mental acuity, thoughts, logic and reason. So why is this particular Tarot card an emotional one?
For starters, and forgive me for stating the obvious, there’s this great red heart pierced by three swords in the center of the image. Then, as if that were not enough, there are the storm clouds that rain down around, and on, the heart. Thanks a lot, Storm Clouds! :’( (For those not familiar with ASCII emoticon art, that’s a crying face.) On the heels of those storm clouds are gray and gloomy skies. All in all, a perfect rainy day! Or one filled with heartbreak, as A.E. Waite so thoughtfully decided for the rest of Tarot all those years ago in 1910. Or so we are told, at any rate, a cursory Wikipedia search turns up nothing to answer the question of who wrote the traditional Tarot meanings we all know and love, or love to hate as the case may be.
At any rate, that’s the traditional meaning: loss, sorrow, heartbreak and pain with a side of sadness. The perfect “Woe is me!” Tarot card. However, I am about to really spin your fans Tarotists and Tarot enthusiasts!
That sad and dreary 3 of Swords need not be interpreted as such at all. I put forward, as food for thought, that the Three of Swords is merely exposing the heart of your (my, our, their, etc.) desire(s). Like Luke Skywalker who cuts open a Tauntaun on the icy planet Hoth to survive until Han Solo can erect a nice suitable shelter for the both of them.
This is why we Tarot readers squirm a bit. It’s a visceral image. But not at all saddening. On the contrary, the heart of our desires is fragile but stable, silently and quietly beating away. Thrum. Thrum. Thrum. It’s easy to miss, but make no mistake, it’s job is the most important of all. To call our attention to what matters most to us. The hope therein is that we will be inspired to wake up and take action to transform ourselves!
Next time this card shows up, apply a fresh look to a centuries-old Tarot card and transform your life!
Blessings to you!