Saturday, 7 August 2010

Three of Swords Spread

Over the last few weeks I have been thinking about grief in my life.  I also recently responded to a comment on a previous post by saying I don't see any cards as negative, and even like the Three of Swords.  This is, in part, the case because several years ago I used a number of different variants on the Three of Swords in a ritual to ease sorrow.  Then, in July I attended the TABI Conference and really enjoyed Barbara Moore's workshop on spreads.  The three events together - thinking about grief, writing about the Three of Swords, and taking the workshop - made me think: "I'll do a Three of Swords Spread!"

I decided to base the spread on very traditional RWS imagery.  Three swords pierce a floating heart, with rain washing the heart.  So, here's the spread design.  Three cards fanned out on top of a fourth card, with a card beneath for the raindrops.  For the fifth card I used a small size deck, to emphasise that this is the first drop of rain, or the single teardrop in some variations of this card, that begins the process of washing away some of the pain.

1+2+3 - Things I need to know about this heartache
4 - What I need to know about my heart
5 - What can help wash away the pain

In her workshop, Barbara Moore talked about ways in which we can be more or less structured, even within the structure of a spread.  So, with the first three cards, although I think it would be feasible to interpret them in a structured way - either as three aspects causing pain, or as three types of emotion associated with the sorrow - for myself in this case I decided to leave their definitions unstructured, and just see what came up.

As ever, no sooner devised than tested.  For this reading I used Juliet Sharman-Burke's Mythic Tarot, and the mini-R-W-S.  The cards dealt were:
1) Page of Swords
2) Emperor
3) Page of Pentacles
4) Queen of Pentacles
5) Temperance

What a lot of court cards!  OK, so, in the lead up to the situation that is causing me pain, I was very Page of Swords-y.  I was focused on communication questions, all gung-ho and enthusiastic, working on being multilingual, and perhaps a bit smug about it all.  Although it is normally the King of Swords that is associated directly with my birth date, the Page of Swords isn't far off.  Communication has always been very important to me, and I can get rather enthused about it, though I will also admit to having some issues around it - I can speak four languages fluently, yet still manage to breed misunderstandings with people, even in English.  In part, the importance I laid on this aspect made it all the more painful when it completely fell flat, and communication was incredibly difficult.

Interestingly, I did a reading on the situation before it came to fruition, and remember very clearly that the Emperor also came up in that reading.  I saw it then as representing the other person's energy - them being very structured and stubborn, and making me have to comply with their demands and requirements though it might not suit my airy nature at all.  That has certainly been born out, and causes me plenty of grief.

Thirdly, the Page of Pentacles.  This is a situation where I need to continually be willing to learn and try new things, in a very practical way.  I don't like that this is the case; I'd like to sometimes feel I have a grasp of what's going on.  But that's not the case, nor likely to be any time soon.  Get used to it, and get on with it, says the Page of Pentacles.

So, what of my heart?  Well, here we have the Queen of Pentacles.  To me, she has always been the most maternal of the queens - practical, down-to-earth, nurturing and loving.  This is how I would like to be in this situation, but my pain, sorrow, anger and resentment sometimes get in the way.

What cure do the cards recommend?  What will help wash away the pain?  Ah, Temperance.  Not necessarily the easiest of cards.  Some people love it, for the element of balance and getting the right mix of ingredients in a necessary situation, others hate it for the aspects of control and restraint.  What I notice in this card today is the crown over the path to the left of the angel.  It reminds me of the fact that one path of yoga is called Raja Yoga, or Kingly Yoga.  This is the path of meditation and study.  That, added to the aspect of finding a correct balance, suggests to me that it may be through meditation, and perhaps also finding out more information about the situation, that I will help wash away the sadness I feel. 

These cards feel very appropriate, though their lessons are things I sometimes don't want to hear.  Since doing this reading I have started trying to meditate daily.  We'll see...

Images: 3 of Swords from Hanson Roberts Tarot, Page of Swords, Page of Pentacles, Emperor and Queen of Pentacles from Mythic Tarot, Temperance from Mini Rider Waite Smith.


  1. Thanks, Viv :-) I've also thought about doing a heart-shaped overlap in the centre, which might look quite nice and could be read like the centre of the celtic cross but with reference to your heart...

  2. What a wonderful spread! And great lesson (not easy, but great). I am one who loves Temperance. :-)

  3. Why am I not surprised, Barbara? ;-) You like all the toughies - like the Hierophant!

  4. Very interesting spread. Thanks for sharing.

  5. How cool is this! Great spread! I really like the Three of Swords, too. I haven't found a reason to dislike Temperance yet, either. I'm so glad I stumbled across your blog tonight. I have a lot of catching up to do.