A woman sits on a bed, her head hanging in sorrow. Three swords have been driven into the ground at the foot of the bed. The bed is associated with a number of metaphors:
  • "you made your bed, now lie in it" means you created the situation and now you must deal with it
  • "a bed of roses" is a favorable situation or experience
  • "strange bedfellows" means an unexpected or unusual partnership or relationship
  • "let's put it to bed" means let's finish this

The man is standing in the doorway looking out into the night. The doorway symbolizes hope, passage from one state to another, escape from a bad situation and/or entrance to a new life and an opportunity.

A flower lays with its petals strewn across the floor. Flowers usually represent that which is about to blossom, beauty and hope. Strewn on the floor, this flower suggests endings, ugliness and despair.

The wall painting is of wailing women. Crying represents the release of emotions. It could symbolize a cleansing and could be associated with feeling sorry for what one has done.

Both people are nude. Their nakedness suggests that they are emotionally exposed to one another and able to be open and candid with each other without the facades they usually put up. It suggests exposing that which has been hidden and being laid bare to criticism or misunderstanding. "To see something with the naked eye" is to see something for oneself while "the naked truth" means that it's a fact.

I got this card once when I'd had an argument with a co-worker and effectively turned my back on him to end the argument.



Hey it only took four years to get an answer on this thread. Well, better late than never, they say.

Anyway, this is one of my favorite 3 of Swords cards. That's because it's the only version of the card I can think of that actually illustrates its meaning. Usually, even in illustrated decks, the 3 of S is just a big red heart pierced by three swords. Sometimes a little more art is added -- a thunderstorm, a touch of blood, a lot of red, or a sorrowful-looking person. But in the Ancient Egyptian Tarot, the actual cause of the sorrow is shown. This card looks like a still from a movie. It's a scene from a drama, and it gives us a visual example of what can lead up to the pain that this card has always symbolized.

We see a couple, and it is clear that they've had an argument. The woman appears to be in emotional pain. Her husband is looking away from her, turning his back to her. He takes no interest in her sorrow and has no desire to speak to her. He looks out the doorway (looks for a way out of the problem). A flower, a symbol of love, sits on the floor like a piece of insignificant trash.

The card adds its own take to the theme of sorrow. The woman is shown as being in a sort of mental isolation (her spouse won't talk to her). People feel sorrow most badly when they have no one who will listen to them, when there is no one they can share their painful thoughts (swords) with. So they have to hold them inside (in their hearts).