Short meaning: The Three of Swords shows a painful situation. You feel let down or even betrayed by someone close to you; an inevitable but upsetting part of life. There is little you can do other than to accept the situation and allow time to heal.
In-depth meaning: When the Three of Swords appears, a deep-seated argument or disagreement has occurred with someone close to the Subject. This has been building for some time and the outcome can be painful; in some cases it can refer to a betrayal or a separation.
The Subject will be left feeling emotional, hurt and confused. Although heart-breaking, the Subject can now make better decisions about their future. If this particular set of events had not taken place, the Subject would have been trapped in an unhappy situation with no hope of improvement.
So whilst this situation is unwanted, the positive message is that they now have hope of finding true happiness because they are freed from the conflict that has been binding them.
Notes on the image: The Swords are not aligned in neat rows but are at angles and pointing in and around, with one facing directly down between the other two. This represents conflict between two people and the possibility of being forced apart because of the conflict. The clouds are extremely stormy and turbulent which represent a difficult time which, just like the weather, has to be endured until the storm is spent and better weather follows.