3 Swords Tattoo Meaning with Ideas & Designs

Inspired by the three of swords cards in the tarot deck, the 3 swords tattoo has become popular over the years among card games lovers.

 It is mainly depicted as three swords piercing into a heart. Sometimes the heart is not present.

 Three swords tattoo meaning was intended to show sorrow, but it can also show love and understanding in some instances.

Strength and ProtectionSwords are often symbols of strength, power, and protection. Having three might emphasize that strength or indicate a layered protection from various threats.
UnityThe number three can signify unity, especially in the context of family, love, or friendship. This could represent the bond between three individuals, such as siblings, best friends, or members of a group.
Past, Present, and FutureThe number three is sometimes used to represent the linear progression of time. The swords could symbolize challenges or milestones in one’s past, present, and future.
Conflict or StruggleSwords are instruments of war, so they could indicate personal battles, struggles, or conflicts someone has faced or is currently facing.
TrinityIn some cultures and religions, the number three has spiritual or religious significance. For instance, in Christianity, the number three is representative of the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Tarot SymbolismIn Tarot, the Three of Swords card often symbolizes heartbreak, sorrow, or a painful realization. Someone familiar with Tarot might choose a three-swords tattoo to represent a difficult period in their life or a profound understanding that came through suffering.
Cultural or Historical SignificanceSwords and the number three might have specific meanings in particular cultures or historical contexts. For example, the Three Musketeers in literature might inspire someone to get a tattoo of three swords.
Personal MeaningAs with any tattoo, personal significance trumps general interpretations. The bearer might have their unique story or reason for choosing this design.

3 Swords Tattoo Meaning

3 Swords Tattoo Meaning

In the tarot deck, the three swords card symbolizes suffering. A heart was freely floating in the air when it was punctured by three swords. The sky became dark and rained heavily to show grief. The heart is a sign of love, while swords are actions and words that can destroy someone’s emotions.

In relation to the card in this suit, the 3 swords tattoo illustrates some pain that you didn’t expect. Perhaps your lover cheats on you, or your best friend and confidant betrays you. It leaves you so disappointed and hurt emotionally and mentally. It could also mean you intend to hurt others, which is wrong in life.

Inking the three swords can be done upright or inverted, each design bearing different meanings. As mentioned before, besides sorrow and suffering, 3 swords could signify joy and happiness.

The 3 Swords Tattoo is not just a simple embellishment; it’s a powerful symbol imbued with diverse interpretations that vary across cultures and individuals.

  • Symbol of Power and Authority: Historically, swords have always been associated with power and authority. The three swords together might signify a tripartite authority, a powerful alliance, or an indomitable spirit that won’t easily yield.
  • Representation of Inner Conflict: In the realm of tarot, the Three of Swords card signifies heartbreak, sorrow, and internal conflict. Hence, the 3 Swords Tattoo may also symbolize a person’s internal struggles or past emotional trauma.
  • Emblem of Unity: The three swords can also represent unity or coming together. It may symbolize the unification of mind, body, and spirit, or the bonding of a group of three individuals or entities.
  • Element of Spirituality: Some perceive the three swords as a symbol of the Holy Trinity in Christianity. It could also represent the triple aspects of the divine feminine in pagan traditions, i.e., the Maiden, Mother, and Crone.

Each interpretation is personal and individual, making this tattoo a versatile and profound emblem, open to a spectrum of meanings.

Upright 3 Swords Meaning

A tattoo with three swords upright, whether piercing a heart or puncturing through each other at a common point, represents sadness that has gripped the wearer. It shows the pain you have felt from being hurt by someone you loved or trusted. This makes you isolated from friends and loved ones and could leave you in a mentally bad state.

Inverted 3 Swords Meaning

When inked upside down, a three sword tattoo signifies relief, especially from a feeling of sorrow you recently experienced. It is a sign of strength you showed during the difficult period and gracefully made it through it. You stepped back, analyzed your life, and didn’t let the situation push you into resentment.

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Why are 3 Swords Tattoo Popular?

It has become a norm to come across different ink designs drawn on the skin. Many people have gone out of their way to use tattooing as a means of self-realization, to express personal identity, and to show growth.

Life has both ups and downs, which makes it beautiful. We create relationships, both intimate and friendships that may not last long. You may fall in love with an emotionally unavailable person. Such things bring out the urge to have a tattoo to represent what you feel about someone or something.

Many people have used the three swords tattoo to show a feeling of disappointment, betrayal, loneliness, rejection, and isolation. If hurt by someone or something, you should give yourself time to experience the pain or sorrow, as only that will help you overcome it. Denying pain will not make it go away.

After addressing the emotional issues we face, we finally get the light and strength to move on. It is a show of healing and self-acceptance. At this point, an upside-down three swords tattoo is popularly used to show recovery. It symbolizes the strength and courage you used to take you out of a dark place.

Who is 3 Swords Tattoo for?                               

The three sword tattoo is commonly drawn by people in some pain after losing someone or something dear to them. It can be interpreted as a loss that you foresee, are currently going through, or in the past according to how you like it. It is also perfect for people who have lost opportunities or jobs.

If you are foreseeing a loss, this ink will symbolize strength. If you overcome sorrow or bouts of sadness, you can also draw upside-down swords to show that you’re a fighter and came out strong. It becomes a symbol of joy and happiness in your life. It is a way of appreciating the healing process.

Best Placement for 3 Swords Tattoo

Most people drawing this tattoo prefer to have it on the arm, but it can be drawn on any part of the body for different reasons. It is a sign of boldness and enthusiasm when drawn on the forearm. You can have it tattooed independently or as part of a large sleeve tattoo design.

Another popular place is the lower leg and knee, where it can be seen too. If you wish to have it less visible, you can have it on the back and chest. When inked on the chest, it resonates with the pain felt in your heart from whatever tribulations you are going through.

3 Swords Tattoo FAQs

Let’s tackle some common queries about the 3 Swords Tattoo:

Is the 3 Swords Tattoo painful?

The level of pain experienced during tattooing varies according to individual pain tolerance and the tattoo’s location.

How much does a 3 Swords Tattoo cost?

The cost depends on factors such as the complexity of design, size, color, and the tattoo artist’s expertise and location.

How should I care for my new 3 Swords Tattoo?

Proper aftercare includes keeping the tattoo clean, moisturized, and protected from sun exposure.

Can I customize my 3 Swords Tattoo design?

Absolutely! In fact, customization is encouraged. You can collaborate with your tattoo artist to design something unique that resonates with your personal journey or beliefs. You could add elements, incorporate colors, or create a stylistic blend that represents you.

Does the direction of the swords in the tattoo have a meaning?

It can, depending on the individual’s interpretation. Some believe that upward-facing swords represent victory or achievement, while downward-facing ones might symbolize defeat or sacrifice. Again, this is subjective and varies from person to person.

I’m not religious or spiritual. Can I still get a 3 Swords Tattoo?

Definitely! While the 3 Swords Tattoo does carry certain spiritual connotations, its meanings are not confined to that realm. It can signify power, unity, or personal struggle, making it a relevant design for anyone, irrespective of their spiritual or religious inclination.

Is it essential to understand tarot to get a 3 Swords Tattoo?

Not at all. While the 3 Swords Tattoo does have ties to tarot symbolism, your connection to the design doesn’t have to be based on this. If you appreciate the aesthetics or connect with any other interpretation of the design, it could be a perfect choice for you.

How long does a 3 Swords Tattoo take to heal?

On average, surface healing occurs within 2-3 weeks, while complete healing can take up to 4 months. It’s crucial to follow your tattoo artist’s aftercare instructions to promote healthy healing and longevity of your tattoo.


Like in the tarot deck, three swords tattoo symbolizes the pain you may experience in life. This includes rejection, betrayal, reversed fortunes, and abandonment. Some of these pains happen when you least expect them. If you’re a body art lover, you can get tattooed with the three swords to signify grief or to overcome whatever life throws at you.

About the author

I’m S.R Bhuiyan, a proud Tattoo artist. I will share the body art journey with you here in PrettyJust. I have 10+ years of experience in the field of tattoo, piercing, nail art, and skincare. Check out my bio which has my tattoo studio/cat/travel pics!

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