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Maat Tarot study group - 3 of Swords

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Maat Tarot study group - 3 of Swords


The Maat Tarot 3 of Swords is assigned to the first quarter moon in Capricorn, which in 2006 began on Sept. 30.

Per the Maat Tarot book: "The first quarter moon phase symbolizes the power of reconstruction. After foundations are destroyed rethinking and reconstruction of a situation is brought to the forefront."

An image of the Maat 3 of Swords and more info can be found at this link (scroll about half way down that page).

This 3 of Swords depicts a rather graphic variation of the RWS traditional 3 swords penetrating a heart, but in this case the swords are impaling a white dove in bloody detail. The hilts of the swords depict symbols of 3 major patriarchal religions:
- Cross: Christianity
- Crescent Moon and Star: Islam
- Star of David: Judaism

Per the Maat book, the dove "is the white dove of the 'spirit' or the love Goddess. This image implies the strong-armed dogma of organized religions suppressing spiritual growth and human unity. These religions tend to use human mortality and the fear of the unknown in manipulative ways to control the masses."

A similar but subtler approach to this imagery is depicted in Margarete Petersen's deck.

Julie clearly has strong feelings about this card and this topic. She was working on the sword cards for Maat around the time of the 9/11 attack, and took a 2 year hiatus from her tarot art after that event. From an interview on Tarot Passages:

"The violence in the external world combined with the violence in the swords was very harsh. I could not master the dove impaled by the three swords."

The intense imagery of the Maat 3 of Swords seems both cathartic and emphatic. Julie is not holding back at expressing her anguish over the destructive impact that religious fervour can have over the free flight of the Spirit. By putting her heartbreak on canvas, she acknowledges and focuses her strong reactions, and then continues on the path towards reconstruction.

From Robert Place's Alchemical Tarot:
"Remember that pain has a purpose and opens the way to growth."
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Thanks Strange2, for starting the Maat Study Group with your insightful post on this - for me - difficult card.
The card is growing on me. I get a different feeling from this card as from the traditional 3 swords - the heart pierced by swords.
In the traditional card I feel frightened, or sorry for myself, it has to do with me and unhappiness that is coming to me, one person.
In this card - I feel sadness, but not so much sad for my own sake, it is more sad over what the bird stands for: "the oppression of the spiritual by the dogmatic" (quoted from the book).
I think this card - and the description in the book - can help us take our personal grief to another level. It helps us to connect with the world again, instead of wallowing in our grief and cutting ourselves off from the rest.
I come to this conclusion through what she writes about the 3 swords as well:
"Our heart breaks when we feel loss. But science tells us there is no loss, that energy cannot be destroyed it can only change form. [...]Love does not die it only changes form.[...]If we love without needing to possess or control, if we can love with an open hand then we could learn to love without expectations and far less pain".

Thanks to this deck I learnt something about a card I always had some kind of problem with.
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As I was walking yesterday and contemplating the 3 of Swords, I came upon a Maple tree that was in brilliant Fall colors. I picked up a few of the fallen leaves to admire nature's beauty. Suddenly it struck me how similar in shape, color, and theme these leaves were to the Maat 3 of Swords! (see attached images).

The 3 main veins on the leaf seemed to correspond to the 3 swords penetrating the dove (or heart), and the shape of the leaf itself was quite similar to the wings of the dove on the Maat card. The changing fall colors on the leaf also looked very blood-like.

The leaf was dying, its once vibrant green now transforming into blood red. And soon the leaf will crumble and eventually return to fertilize the earth, where new life can take root, be nourished and grow.

As Julie mentioned in the Maat book: "...energy cannot be destroyed, it can only change form."

So even though change can often be traumatic, it can also be the catalyst for new ideas and growth.
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It's a perfectly awful image---and I see it as the death of trust. It is that terrible instant of heartbreak, that first sword through the blessed numbness, when you know the enormity of what you have lost. It's the killing blade.
after this, nothing will ever be the same.
This is both a personal and political card, and I am reading it as such.

I remember on 9/11 and days immediately afterwards, news commentators and talking heads kept saying that nothing would ever be the same. And I think that turned out to be true because that was the first foreign attack on American land since what? 1812? It's been a very long time since we have felt that kind of vulnerable in this country.

That dove was that vulnerable. War makes us vulnerable, love makes us vulnerable, fear makes us vulnerable. And because the major western religions (the swords) each claim to be the one "true" religion, with the one "true" version of the Word and Will of God, we have been battling each other for a couple of millennium now, out of our dogmatic determination to "win". If we win, it proves we're right, Right? By basing our differences in religion, we polerize ourselves and are prey to the knee-jerk reflexive reaction that bypasses any and all thought processes, until it is too late, and suddenly we are at war, one way or the other, once more. Bye bye Dove...

All of these religions have their fanatics, and all the fanatics are dangerous to more well balanced people. The Fanatics believe their version of God wants them to do whatever terrible deed they're contemplating. So they do it, and the innocent die, and any possibility of peace and goodwill and all of that recedes a little further.

Yeah, energy doesn't die, it just changes forms, but thats cold comfort when either your love or your hope for peace has just been brutally slaughtered. I find it very interesting, the way she has combined personal and worldwide heartbreak in one arresting image. God, she's good.
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My first impression of this card is about the swords. They enter and exit at the back. Give me the thought of a back stab, one when the shield is down. Now the bird is not able to use it's wings, not in this state, anyway. It don't pierce the heart of the bird.
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The dove is not only the symbol for peace. It is also Aphrodite's bird, the symbol of love: the heart, in other words. Our heart, perhaps, which justifies the image in the Maat which might otherwise be considered somewhat extravagant.

I don't know what all has died in us, collectively. One thing I lost was the unexamined assumption that a sort of easy-going ecumenism was solving the religious conflict issues. Dove-like meetings of the mind, I guess is what I thought. I forgot what happens when the heart is totally engaged in a larger conflict. I forgot what swords actually do.

What will replace the dove? So far it's been eagles. They don't need hearts; they go for lights and livers.
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IDS 3 of Swords


Card/Number: 3 of Swords/5

Card Image: see attached

First Impression: How bloody and terrible! The pain in this picture is like nothing I have ever seen before. What a horrible death.

Description: A white dove sits in the center of the card, bloodied and dead. Three swords pierce the dove and each bears a symbol of the three patriarchal religions: christianity, muslim and judaism. The background is black.

Feminine/Masculine/Neutral: feminine death, masculine swords

Colors: white, red, black, silver and brown

Senses: You can feel the blood spattering onto your face, your skin- the scent pungent, the taste like iron. The mournful death cry of the dove echoes in your ears.

Symbols: dove, blood, swords, cross, crescent with star, star of David

Story: Come sit with me and feel my sorrow and pain. Mourn with me, the loss of innocence. Weep with me, at the destruction and hatred. Why would man want to kill beauty and innocence? Why would he want to subjugate and overpower that which surrounds him? The three religious symbols before you denote a movement of man to take on a patriarchal religion that placed a vengeful god at it's reigns. Religions that support killing and controlling everything around them, including each other. Religions that support mindless wars, religious zeal in the murder of innocent lives. The blood of the Mother rests on their hands. You may wonder why they choose to follow blindly in such hatred. Remember child, hatred is born from fear, and they DO fear. For as they have cut away the Mother, so they now are lost. Their souls recognize this, but their minds refuse to listen. They will continue in their destructiveness, blinded by fear and hatred. But, fear not my child, all is not lost. The Mother will grow stronger from this battle, and the false god these men have created will fall. And you will see Her true consort and God be recognized, and together They will battle hatred with love.

Astrologic: First quarter moon in Capricorn

Element: fire

Keywords: sorrow, pain, loss of innocence by oppression

Meanings: sorrow and loss, followed by healing

Quote: no words, just silent tears of anguish
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Penthasilia View Post
Card/Number: 3 of Swords/5

Card Image: see attached

First Impression: How bloody and terrible! The pain in this picture is like nothing I have ever seen before. What a horrible death.

Description: A white dove sits in the center of the card, bloodied and dead. Three swords pierce the dove and each bears a symbol of the three patriarchal religions: christianity, muslim and judaism. The background is black.

Feminine/Masculine/Neutral: feminine death, masculine swords

Colors: white, red, black, silver and brown

Senses: You can feel the blood spattering onto your face, your skin- the scent pungent, the taste like iron. The mournful death cry of the dove echoes in your ears.

Symbols: dove, blood, swords, cross, crescent with star, star of David

Story: Come sit with me and feel my sorrow and pain. Mourn with me, the loss of innocence. Weep with me, at the destruction and hatred. Why would man want to kill beauty and innocence? Why would he want to subjugate and overpower that which surrounds him? The three religious symbols before you denote a movement of man to take on a patriarchal religion that placed a vengeful god at it's reigns. Religions that support killing and controlling everything around them, including each other. Religions that support mindless wars, religious zeal in the murder of innocent lives. The blood of the Mother rests on their hands. You may wonder why they choose to follow blindly in such hatred. Remember child, hatred is born from fear, and they DO fear. For as they have cut away the Mother, so they now are lost. Their souls recognize this, but their minds refuse to listen. They will continue in their destructiveness, blinded by fear and hatred. But, fear not my child, all is not lost. The Mother will grow stronger from this battle, and the false god these men have created will fall. And you will see Her true consort and God be recognized, and together They will battle hatred with love.

Astrologic: First quarter moon in Capricorn

Element: fire

Keywords: sorrow, pain, loss of innocence by oppression

Meanings: sorrow and loss, followed by healing

Quote: no words, just silent tears of anguish
As the dove is usually associated with peace, maybe this card could mean discord? A lack of peace?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soaring Eagle View Post
As the dove is usually associated with peace, maybe this card could mean discord? A lack of peace?
Absolutely- but my feeling when looking at this card was a loss of an innocent type of peace. It was only later that I read about Julie completing this card shortly after 9/11, and that really struck a cord in me- as that is the type of grief and sorrow that came to me from this card. It is the loss of peace, and also the loss of an innocence and child-like trust. A very powerful card- it is still affecting me.

Thanks for the insight Soaring Eagle.
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3 of Swords


The idea for the 3 of Swords came thru before 9/11 actually struck. This was the idea just coming thru. After 9/11 actually happened I could not bring myself to actually paint this picture. I put all the canvases away and took a two year break from all things tarot. By September of 2003 I realized the whole 9/11 thing was an inside job I was angry and I also realized there was no real danger out there. I had contracted rheumatoid arthritis the month after the towers fell and noted the symptoms of the self fighting against the self. As I began painting again I slowly recovered from the RA a full recovery. As I worked on the 3 the idea of adding the 3 religious symbols occurred to me, it was a reflection of my anger for what had happened because these doctrines seemed to be at the root of world problems. The 3 of Swords in Journey into Egypt is more about protecting the heart. The heart which was known to the ancient Egyptians as 'mother' it was the one organ that would betray an untruth or a lie to the self.
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