Sacred Circle,  Swords

Journey into: 3 of Swords

Written by: Emma Sunerton-Burl

Continuing her series, Emma Sunerton-Burl looks into the cards of The Sacred Circle Tarot, by Anna Franklin and Paul Mason, published by Llewellyn:

My first thoughts when looking at this card is of rock climbing when the weather is coming in – you can see the light changing, perhaps the sun will emerge and all will be well, but more likely its going to rain which means danger – we have to get off the climb quickly. I sense fear, uncertainty and a feeling it all might be a bit difficult technically. A very personal association, perhaps it will show some themes of discomfort with this card in the journey.

I walk into the card.

I find myself walking, rather than climbing, and feeling a little safer. I am going up a rocky path; the cloud is down; rain is very imminent. I walk on and up; it’s a bit of an adventure but certainly not the best of days. The tension brews and you can feel all the wildlife hide away in shelter for what might be a horrid storm, yet still it may blow over, sunlight is trying to make itself known. I feel a cold breeze on my face and look around.

First I decide to ask the rocks around me what their message is for me in this card.

“We are strength, the unchanging forces in a persons life and in their character. We do mold and change over time with weather – the repeated emotional situations – but in the main we are strong and hold the way for you to ascend to higher realms. We make it hard for you at times but your overcoming of the obstacles in your way, and on your path, is all part of your strengthening in life. So we are both your inner strength to deal with whatever comes and survive it, as well as your development and strengthening over time. This card shows someone their strength through conflict and also through their innate ability to survive the hardest emotional things and come out on top eventually, overcoming all difficulties and obstacles.”

“Thank you.” I say and understand the truth of this.

“Thank you for your support of me as I climb to the top.” I also say realising that the rock is supporting me as I walk forward and so often I am putting my trust in the rock to hold me.

“You are welcome” The rock replies, “Your knowledge of where to step and where not to is part of the trust – it is your discernment – and in this way too each person comes to know where to take their support as they cross difficult things in life. It is not a bad thing to have support at these difficult times.”

“Indeed.” I say and feel very warm towards this rocky path ahead of me.

I walk upwards and come to a cliff top and I stand out on it and look ahead of me and up to the sky. I see the cloud formations; each cloud has a silver lining and the sun is apparent even though the atmosphere is of darkness and gloom.

“Oh clouds will you share with me your wisdom?”

“Indeed we will.” They swirl and say. “We show you that though you feel low and heavy at the moment when this card appears, pregnant with tears and sadness, there is also healing and release if you allow the water to flow. The situation we represent has healing associated with it, the sunlight is behind the storm and you can see the sun behind us showing you our ‘lining’. It is indeed it is silver – perhaps even the ‘gold’ you seek in life. Allow yourself to experience us, the clouds, that hold your tears; let us rain upon you – and know the sun is behind and that through embracing us you can also embrace our silver and our gold and be closer to the sun of joy happiness and self esteem.”

“Thank you clouds I understand your message well here. Can I speak to the sun?”

“Only through us, as we are the passage you have to go through to see the sun. Once you speak to us we may move over and allow access or we may say ‘not yet you need more tears and release to be able to contact that joyful spark within you’ – but ultimately yes, we move out of the way to make room for the healing drying energy of the sun.”

I climb up into the gap in the clouds and sit on the silver lining and bask in complete sunshine. I see the power of healing that comes from going through the rain clouds and allowing myself to receive their healing. I allow the sun to warm me and then as I look below I see the three swords themselves. I ask of them their meaning.

“We are the symbol of discord and pain. Like two people going in one direction and you are against them, you fight for your own direction against the common flow of things. Conflict results and warring can also be indicated. We are also the third person getting in the way of a couple – so affairs, three sided relationships and conflicts involving jealousy are all our realm. It is harsh, but in many ways it needs to be experienced to heal from the pains of the journey. We are part of the obstacles in life that lead to finding the gold within.

Emotional discord is the theme for us all together here, the difficulty living as we want to – harsh terrain, and sadness – but also great rewards of joy for staying the distance and not running from the difficulty, but using it to go deep within your emotions and feel everything that is there. As you focus on the clouds in yourself you come through to the other side and find your inner strength in a way not possibly without the conflicts.”

I am drawn to the tree on the left – it is wiggly and old and I sense that its growth has been hard throughout its life – yet it is there, where none other are, and it is strong too. I ask the tree what it has to share with me.

“I am one of the high trees, many can’t survive up here in this terrain, yet for me it is home and though my growth is stunted and it is hard for me to find nourishment at times, it is also a place of great vision and sight over the world. I feel honoured to hold this place and grow in spite of the difficulties. I offer support to those who travel this way they can hold onto me and be helped by my strength and persistence. I have no hurry to be anywhere other than where I am. I move in the winds and am flexible; though it molds my shape I am still me. In the same way as the disruptions affect you and mold you in many ways, you are changed by your experiences and the things that you come up against. It doesn’t make you less you, but more you, and you also become a signpost and a support to others who travel your way – none of your tears or pain will be wasted by the universe -you can use your lessons to help others in ways you may not even know. Just know the struggle is worthwhile.”

I thank the tree and move on up to the top – there are patches of snow which are really white, deep and pure looking. I ask the snow its meaning.

“I am the purity of the universe, though cold and harsh to live in I am that which brings beauty to even the harshest terrains. I am the frozen tears, the way of letting go that bring beauty to the situation, the beauty of the change in form, of one thing to another. I capture a little of the light of the heavens to show that even at the darkest point there can be light to guide you. That spirit never forgets you. Once prepared through making the journey you can reach a place of understanding of the beauty of the process of transformation and change; tears become your friend and ally when needed.”

“Thank you snow” I say – I feel this journey has been very different from the others. The environment felt very personal to me – yet the messages less so. The fear I expected to be shown with this card was not there, it was more about sadness and conflict between people being a positive thing if you deal with it internally as part of your path and not as another’s ‘fault’.



Emma welcomes any comments on this article or the visualisations you do following this method. Email her on

Emma works as an intuitive psychic tarot reader and runs one to one online training courses on reading with the Thoth tarot deck using a unique blend of intuition and psychological techniques. This has now been extended to working intuitively with RWS style decks too. She also mentors other professional and non-professional tarot readers. She offers visualisation MP3 downloads for intuition development, tarot readings F2F, telephone or distance, and healing – see her website for details: 

Emma has a Bsc in Psychology and is a trained counsellor, counselling supervisor and trainer. She integrates this experience in her Tarot work, and in her self-written training courses for personal development, Tarot, and Tarot mentoring.


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