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The Thirteenth Moon
Join Date: 17 Sep 2001
Location: Pluto
Posts: 8,760
Cool This is about keeping secrets

Being the Bohemian Gothic, the deck does refer to horror stories, and these typically include killers. Certainly, our lady there might have been jealous of the love these birds shared and wanted to put an end to it--or maybe she wanted to love of the living bird all to herself, and killed the other bird so she didn't have to share. Or maybe, as you say, she was betrayed herself and acted it out.

But even if that is the story that created this image...the person getting this card shouldn't think this card is explaining to them why they were betrayed. Why not? Because the 3/Swords, in this deck or any other, isn't about explaining why the betrayal happened. The 3/Swords is about whether or not the betrayal is going to be kept a secret.

The other dove is mourning its loss, and the woman seems to be mourning with the dove. Are we going to tell the dove that its good friend the lady there is responsible for this? And if you have the 2nd edition, give the woman's expression a second look. She's gazing right at us, and her expression could as easily be read as saying, "Will you confess what you did?" Meaning that WE killed the dove and she knows it. Are we going to admit this to the surviving dove? Or should we fear that the lady's going to tell on us? (That's part of what's wonderful about this card...have you ever felt that fear? That someone had found out a secret of yours and was going to tell it?)

My point is, if we get all caught up in "why did she do it?" we miss the real message of the card...and my gosh, does this card get across exactly what we need to understand about the 3/Swords. Not WHY we betray or hurt others, because we do that for all kinds of reasons. We even do it unintentionally or stupidly. We hurt people, including those we love, sometimes for good reason, sometimes for bad reasons, sometimes with for no reason at all. Right? The gay person in the closet might not be telling his/her parents because he doesn't want to hurt them--and that's as much 3/Swords as anything. A killer secret that could destroy a family if known. And yet this secret "betrayal"--the surface all good, but inside all not good--wasn't done deliberately.

That's what matters here: the looming question of whether the secret is going to remain a secret. And you and I and everyone who is old enough to lie and keep secrets understands this card. We are the "third" sword here. Do we injure that living, mourning dove even further by letting it in on the truth of who killed its love? Or do we keep that a secret and let the dove continue to blindly trust the one who betrayed it?

That, not why the woman did it (or why we did it) is the only question this card asks us. And it's one hard question. Maybe if we tell the truth the living dove will die of grief. Or maybe it will fly away and not chance being killed itself--or maybe it will forgive the killer? Either way, the beauty of this place, the trust and love the dove had in it, will be shattered. Therein lies the dilemma of the 3/Swords. Keeping secrets is poisonous, but telling them leads to hurt and disillusionment, complications and break-ups...I think this is one of the most complex and difficult cards in the deck, and the Bohemian Gothic nailed it.
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