Three of Swords has been traditionally viewed as the grimmest cards. Indeed, when its imagery is considered; it is hard to say it evokes good feelings. Even so; it represents a stage where mental processes outstretch from potential to reality, and like all breakthroughs, that transmission is to make room for itself; sometimes to the detriment of what there before.
Three of Swords depicts a heart pierced by three swords. Behind the heart, rainy weather and dark clouds can be discerned.
The Swords; standing for the three different aspects of the mental processes might represent power, destruction, and intellect, and the heart represents emotions and subconscious. The sky implies the grim yet temporariness at the moment.
“Setbacks are just learning experiences.”– Beth Brooke
Three of Swords indicates sadness, heartbreak or grief and the pain caused by them. It does also stand for the benefits of this pain: It teaches and makes room for the better, creating an opportunity. This card also implies also or broken relationship, but after the pain of the first moments, that is to be revealed as a release. A person represented by this card would be sorrowful and might be inclined to focus on what is not working itself out n their life, and therefore might be unable to see good sides of the things. In a relationship context, this card represents a heartbreak; which might be anything from a mere disappointment to a break-up. It also calls for healing of the hurt of the past before taking any action romance-wise. Career-wise, this card indicates a failure, hurting the ego of one. As such, it calls for not exaggerating the setback but learning from it and moving on.
Progress requires setbacks; the only sure way to avoid failure is not to try.-Henry Spencer
Summing up, Three of Swords represent a setback; and advises one to see that setback as an opportunity rather than weeping over it.