As a general practice, I like to cut right to the chase when more apocalyptic-looking tarot cards make an appearance in a reading. For this week we have the stabby Three of Swords and the cataclysmic Tower. Not doing a whole lot to lighten things up, the Ten of Wands concludes our array for the week.
It's rough stuff at first glance, but you'd be surprised that I breathed a sigh of relief when I turned over these cards.. There's a deep layer of meaning here that I'm glad to see, and an overarching theme of movement in an area of our lives that has long been characterized by stagnation.
We've been holding something close to our hearts that's no longer doing us any good. The Three of Swords speaks to the immediacy of our pain. Umistakably, this card shows us that when we're wounded we suffer. This experience serves to protect us (in feeling pain we can learn to avoid it in the future) as well as to summon our energy so we can begin to heal. Our body and mind are drawn to the source and, with our attention focused, we can see what's causing the wound, remove the source, and allow our bodies to do their work.
Without this experience we wouldn't have as rich an understanding of the world and of ourselves; pain and suffering help direct us towards our own path. There's a great deal of wisdom there when we peel back the layers. (And, yes, it's still painful - there's no denying that).
Interestingly, we also can remove some power from the hurt through experiencing and exploring it. Think of a toddler falling and scraping their knee. The shock of the fall and the pain makes them wail in the way only toddlers can: with wild abandon and piercing volume. Once calmed down, they find it's just a small scrape and, after a bandaid is slapped on, they scamper off on another adventure.
But what happens when we don't allow ourselves to process our pain in real time? Detatching from ourselves and holding onto the initial shock of an experience can cause it to become overpowering. What started as a scrape if we had only looked down and treated it becomes seen as a lethal wound. We may hide our pain, try to ignore it, or become afraid. All this effort is exhausting.
There's a tender side to the Three of Swords. In its simplicity, it can represent the vulnerability of our childhood selves and our original wounds from this formative stage. There's something bubbling up from our past experiences - a Three of Swords moment - that needs to be evaluated. This can be a tired, limiting family role or a feeling of powerlessness. Examining the deeper root of our unpleasant feelings this week will be illuminating.
And here's the good news: As adults, we can now reach down and comfort our distressed selves, put a bandage on our knee. Now is a time to direct healing energy and understanding towards our inner child, soothing some of the pain around an early hurt that's showing through in our daily lives and providing room to move forward.
When there's a big buildup of repressed emotion around an experience it often leads to an erruption. And that's what brings us to The Tower. In this situation, The Tower reprsents an inevitable and ultimately healing moment of catharsis. An experience this week will send us tumbling back to our younger selves and the suffering we experienced at that time. Rather than avoid this moment, we can lean into it, knowing that some old feelings need to be discharged and that kindness towards ourselves is key for both comfort and growth.
This is not easy stuff, yet there's a sense that this is it's time and we're ready to rise to the challenge. The Ten of Wands shows us reaching the end of a journey of self-care. Reconciling our current selves with past suffering - learning how to love, soothe, and ten to our inner child - is the final piece of the puzzle. While we may feel exhausted at times, we can trust that this is part of our journey. What's more, we're now armed with a wealth of knowledge about how we need to care for ourselves.
It's a winding road of practice and patience; knowing ourselves the way we do, however, gives us the strength to see and experience the Three of Swords and The Tower not as threats, but as essential parts of life that allow us to grow our roots even deeper and emerge as our own best advocate, friend, and healer.