3 of Swords – Heartache

The 3 of Swords show a heart suspended in mid air pierced by three swords. It is entirely surrounded by storm clouds and rain; there is nowhere to turn to for refuge. Such a vivid image requires little explanation. Anyone who has ever had their hearts broken will know that such emotional pain literally feels like the heart is being stabbed and the term ‘heartache’ is not merely figurative.

This card speaks of all the emotions that cause such pain – loneliness, betrayal, rejection, grief and disappointment. The storm in which the wounded heart finds itself describes the way we feel about our lives when we go through such turmoil. Everything seems dark and hopeless.

Do not let the frightening image of the card turn you away from the valuable lesson it has to teach, which is that pain is an inevitable part of life. Once we accept this truth, we may learn from our pain and grow from of it. Although it may feel like all is lost or that the pain is too much to bear, just like the storm surrounding the pierced heart, these feelings will eventually pass. When the sky clears, we can see that the storm has brought with it the rain that is needed for growth.

Give ourselves the time needed to grief and mourn. Allow ourselves to express and, thereby, release our sadness. All the while, have faith that we possess the strength to climb out of this dark pit of despair when we are ready to do.

Aside from expressing pain, this card may also signify that we are causing pain to others. It serves to remind us that we are all capable of cruelty, no matter which religion or political views we adhere to.

We should always bear in mind how our words and actions can affect others. While some people hurt others because they are mean and ill-spirited, most of us cause harm through carelessness and momentary selfishness. Be mindful that something as simple as a seemingly harmless joke may cause pain and humiliation to others.


Hexagram 59 – Dispersion

Wind above Water create the image of gentle spring wind blowing over the frozen rivers, melting it and dispersing their ice floes.

Some obstacle we face can be resolved through time and sheer physical effort. Many of our most difficult battles, however, require a different strategy because they are battles with ourselves. Much of the pains we experience is a direct result of our attitude and worldview. In such circumstances, people should imitate this act of nature and let love warm our hearts. Allow kindness to melt away our selfishness and negativity. Wash away our debilitating ego with compassion.

We all experience difficulties and pain. While these hard times are inevitable, they need not be permanent. The I Ching shows us that it is possible to remove obstacles even when they are as daunting as icebergs if we keep our spirits free of hatred and ill will. Once we rid ourselves of our blockages, our hearts may be free to follow our higher calling and revere the divinity that resides in each and every one of us.

Six on line 1:

Few people who do bad things make the conscious decision to be evil. More likely, they begin as seemingly harmless and insignificant bad habits – the tendency to join in on gossip, doing a little bit less work when we think no one is watching, or automatically assuming the role of a victim whenever something unpleasant occurs. Take note of such behaviours in ourselves in order to be rid of them as quickly as possible. Do not allow them to take root.

Nine on line 2:

Sometimes we tie support beams to saplings to assist with its growth. Likewise, we should seek out tools and support to help ensure that we don’t stray but grow true and strong. Such support may be our friends and family, our faith, or a clearly defined goal. Such tools may be as simple as an organizer to help us stay on track or a journal to express our thoughts.

Six on line 3:

It may seem ironic, but there are times when happiness can only be achieved by abandoning our preconceived notions of happiness. Examine our goals and desires to see whether they are guiding us towards fulfillment or if they are merely chains of indulgences. We must sacrifice our superficial selves in order to discover our true selves, hidden underneath the ego.

Six on line 4:

Just as we should abandon our false selves, we may need to part with our group identities and rise above partisanship. As important as it is to be loyal to our friends and family, we must not forget that we are citizens of the world and our actions should benefit the good of all, and not just a few.

Nine on line 5:

In times of chaos, when people are disconnected and mistrusting, an idea can serve as a rallying point. Discover common grounds, find goals that everyone can work towards together and focus on interests that we all share. Remind ourselves and each other how we are alike in order to disperse our differences.

Nine on line 6:

When a situation is beyond repair, the only thing that can be done is to walk away from it. Remove ourselves from things and people who can only bring us harm and pain. With great injury, we may have to sever a limb in order to preserve a life. No matter how difficult, we must separate ourselves from the danger before it consumes us.



Although pain is something that we try to avoid, it is one of life’s most invaluable experiences. Much wisdom and many virtues can be gained through the way we address it. When we face our pain in spite of how much it hurts and frightens us, we learn strength and courage. When we accept the things we cannot change, we learn how to make peace. When our own pain allows us to empathize with others’ suffering, we increase our capacity for love and compassion.