Tarot for Self-Care: Three of Swords

Cards from Left to Right:  The Fountain ,  R-W-S , and  Mountain Dream  Tarots

Cards from Left to Right: The Fountain, R-W-S, and Mountain Dream Tarots


The three of swords is a straightforward card. Frighteningly so. Three swords piercing a heart: as clear a representation of pain and suffering as you can think of.

I’m an optimist. I like to look on the bright side, to see the upcoming sunrise in the darkest hours of the night.

But sometimes things just hurt. Sometimes rushing through the pain is disrespectful. We feel pain for a reason. It alerts us to suffering, injustice, and wrongdoing. It has a message and it begs for action. When the pain grows too acute we can’t ignore it. Something must be done.

So what happens when we gloss over the pain compulsively? In our culture, if we grieve we are weak. We are supposed to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and steamroll over the bumps and difficulties. Act as if they never happened. Our suffering, in this line of thinking, is a personal failing.

My response? That's garbage.

We do not exist in isolation. We are families, communities, nations, and humans. We are responsible for each other.

The three of swords has been on my mind this week. Two more black men have been killed by police. Their names are Keith Lamont Scott and Terence Crutcher.  

I am angry. I am filled with sorrow. I am fed up. And I am immensely privileged to take a break from this reality.

There are two parallel worlds existing in our country right now. I get to walk through one, feeling seen and protected because of my whiteness. People of color are trapped in another, where injustice is baked into its very structure. For them, there is no guaranteed safety, there is no guaranteed justice, no guaranteed equality. 

To turn away from another’s pain is to deny their humanity. To rush to a brighter interpretation is to gloss over another’s reality simply because it is different from your own or makes you uncomfortable.

We can’t do this. We can’t support a world that marginalizes others and erases their experiences. I don’t have a solution. I do know, however, that in order to move forward we have to acknowledge the swords placed in our hearts and the hearts of others, holding space for their grief and accepting responsibility for the world we live in and create.