The Empty House
March 11, 2009 § 2 Comments
3 of Swords – Mourning
Believe it or not, the 3 of Swords is one of my favourite cards in the Haindl – for its powerful yet simply imagery. This is one of those cards where I appreciate Hermann Haindl, the artist. The 3 of Swords in many decks depicts a heart pierced by three swords, or some scene designed to show heartbreak, betrayal, etc.; but next to Haindl’s those cards seem crude and overly explicit. This image makes me feel sad when I look at it. Like any great work of art, it has been created not to show or tell, but to evoke feeling in the viewer.
The background is taken from a painting of cats hunting mice (the same as is used for the background of the 10 of Wands). Rachel Pollack writes that “the detail is so close we lose a sense of the original painting”. When I look at the card, I see a damp wall in an old, empty house. The card is titled “Mourning”. It is a card of tragedy and ghosts. Empty houses are always sad because a house is designed to be a home – to hold people just as a heart is designed to hold love. The teardrop in the centre of the card seems to come from the wall itself, as if the house is crying.
The arrangement of the swords is also sad. The single sword is separated from the others. The space between, with the teardrop falling, speaks of a division that is too painful to cross. Things said, things left unsaid; whatever the situation, it feels too difficult and painful to make things right. The image speaks of isolation and loneliness. It used to be “us”. Now it’s just me.