The Tarot of Eli: The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot- Three of Swords & The Thoth Tarot-3 of Swords-Sorrow

western hermetic qabalah, tantric, astrological, alchemical, and numerical Tarot Card Comparisons.

· Rider-Waite-Tarot

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rider-waite-smith-three of swords

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Again, the Rider-Waite-Smith Three of Swords card chooses to represent a more mundane approach as Waite didn't wish to expose arcane lodge secrets. The cloudy and crying sky, (Air is the element of this card) supports a Heart (Psyche) pierced by Three Swords. This implies the sorrow is deeply felt in the three states of mind. The Spirit, the unconscious and the consciousness. It is also the ternary goddess, Maid, Mother and Crone. In past blogs on the subject of Binah- the Great Mother Womb of consciousness, you may remember that Binah is the Third Sephiroth who is the intelligence behind the 3's, and is called: Understanding. She is also named the Sanctifying Intelligence and the Parent of Faith. Here is the implication that any religion of any sect, could not have a "church" without this underlying structure of Sanctifying Intelligence. As Mary is the Church, in Catholic doctrine, so is Binah the Parent of Faith...not the faith itself, but its intelligent parental creatrix in the Universal Collective Unconscious, that is the foundation of organization, structure and sanctity.

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You may ask what a sanctifying intelligence, has to do with sorrow? To make this simple, she is the Crone in this card, and the Crone is the death of the you that you think you are; and the Crone is all sorrowful for the destruction she must make on those creations she Loves into being. In your bright and beautiful soul resides this great sorrow of having to be both the life and death of your physical body. To have, to take or lose the life of one you love is a deeply sorrowful experience; for even the most evil of us Loves their body. Therefore all that Creates, is full of sorrow as well as love. The shadow image of love is sorrow. In the universe of things, you can't have one with out the other.

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As the concept of Virgin, we have Binah as the Priestess, as concept of Mother we have Binah as the Empress and in the Thoth 3 of Swords-Sorrow, She is as the beginning of Crone which forms in Geburah. Thus we have Maid, Mother and Crone represented as three Swords (states of creative mind) in the Sorrow card.

Let me explain: many of us think that "freedom of choice" is happiness, but we forget that in order to have "freedom of choice", we must have a beginning and an end, for form requires measurement. As Spirit, we just Are; infinite energy without measurement! In the One Energy there is no up, no down, no in and no out; We just are as timeless frequency, everywhere and nowhere at the same time. But as a Spirit who runs a material body, we are both Transmitter and the Transmitted giving us the freedom to choose up, down, in or out and/or our own identity. What few of us choose to remember is that freedom is really free-doom (Anglo-Saxon for "I choose my own death"), not only do we get to choose our own definitions of self, we also get to choose our body's death. Be it ignorant or intelligent choice it is still the Soul's choice. Freedom of choice also brings great sorrow and great joy, love and sadness etc. Again, we have bodies so that we may form the necessary "soft ware" to operate the "Wet Ware" of the Living Measurement of I AM; in other words, a discriminating operational personality called "Me". Spirit doesn't discriminate as all is of it, in it and as it and what is experienced through in- form- action becomes Knowledge which is neither good nor bad. Hence, Spirit's Self- Measurement begins as I AM, which denotes existence, but as what, hasn't been decided yet. Therefore, all "Me's" are and assumption. Only after much Wisdom (Chokmah) and Understanding (Binah) can "as what" be decided. Then Chessed, the 4th Sephiroth-Mercy, is the architect who designs "what" and Geburah, the 5th Sephiroth-Severity , who is ruling planet is Saturn, adds "Time".

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The Thoth Tarot 3 of Swords-Sorrow, the number of the major arcana--key 3 The Empress and to Her the great Sorrow of the Mother/destroyer is felt as "freedom of choice" is not understood by her children, who often confuse it with desire. Hence, she has given birth to Beautiful Children who often think themselves into ugliness and become monsters in their own "i's". This hurts a loving mother. Also the fact that those beautiful children, who excel, must also end; is yet another addition to the burden of sorrow, that arrives with every loving attachment in this world of matter.

Many of us know that to love is to end in loss but we will love after loss anyway. Love is our nature and loss, is the beginning of a new gain as energy progressively transforms itself. This understanding, doesn't lessen sorrow, it just helps us move forward with tears running down our face. Thus there is strength gained in understanding sorrow, where as, fear of sorrow weakens us.


is also called the Lord of Sorrow, so once again we get confused by sexual connotations. But energy is male in expression and female in reception. Plus the word Lord is Anglo-Saxon and originally meant, "Guardian of Bread" whereas, the word Lady meant "Doler of Bread". With little thought, we can see that She owned the bread and he guarded it. Hence, he became "keeper of the Grail". From this an interesting comparison is formed, as Love-Will to form- seems to be guarded by Sorrow's-Will to force. It is time to light up the furnace of perspicacity! For only the severity of a corrective force, can change what wishes to stay immobile.

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The Planet attributed to the 3 of Swords is Saturn in the sign of Libra. The Angels of the Decan are Hayayel and Hoquiam.

In the Three of Swords we have the influence of Binah in the Astral formative World of Yetzirah. The Power of Saturn is destructive and initiatory bringing a presence of pain and hardship. But as we may know, hardship and suffering are often where we learn life's greatest lessons. So the Dark Sterile Mother, is not evil, she is a Sanctifying Intelligence. In the Three of Swords, Saturn unbalances the Scales of Libra, in order that they may be rebalanced in an improved way. So we may understand the Crone i\as the perpetrator of "Tough Love". As we may know, for a Mother having to use tough love to teach her beautiful children, brings a sorrow to a her as well. This is implied as the Rose of Five Petals, Her heart-- if you will, is torn apart by the piercing of the three swords. The background of the Thoth card suggests the Dark Sea of Binah, a Womb of chaos and/or the Quantum Universe. This, aspect of the Universe, is called the "Uncertainty Principle": a phrase coined by Heisenberg. This principle of uncertainty, comes from the I AM, and all who have the ability to "identify" themselves, are governed by this principle. This is called "freedom of choice" in the mundane world, as an individual's freedom to be what ever is thought, is the very essence of Chaos. As Spirit, Mind and Body, we live in a paradise of Self- Image-making and/or Imagination. Our body's balance is not governed by our physic, but rather by our Psyche. Therefore, the Psyche should be under the control of spirit, rather than the body. For when the body runs the mind, we have the upside down pentagram, which is the sigil of the human being. This upside down thinking produces great sorrow in ourselves and our constructed world of imagination.

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When the Three/3 of Swords-Sorrow is thrown during a reading:

  • The querent is experiencing thoughts of sorrow.
  • reoccurring thoughts of sorrowful past events.
  • The sorrow of a triangular relationship that is out of balance or has come to an end.
  • Disappointment and heartbreak.
  •  A type of recognition where one must give up one thing to gain another.
  • Also, for initiates, who travel to the abyss, this sorrow is soul deep, for it is of the Sorrow of the Creatrix, who has to destroy to rebuild, an act that will happen to the personality that succeeds in traversing the Abyss.

If ill defined by the surrounding cards (Thoth) or reversed (Rider-Waite-Smith) it implies:

  • Here difficulty precedes power.
  • Releasing;  a gift of sorrow, allowing the querent to release and let out the pent up stress of feared emotions.

Thank you for your interest, comments and supportive donations. May you live long and prosper!