Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Three of Pentacles

An archway, beneath which are 3 more archways. 3 circles within 3 circles--3 pentacles within the circles. Three is the number of creativity, results and achievement, and that's what this card is about.

The pentacles are worked into the stonemasonry of a church--they are not coins. This the only card in which the pentacles are not depicted on gold disks. To me this means this card is less about money and more about the actual labour of our hands, its products, and how we get the concept of the work out of ourselves and manifested as a finished thing. The creative process, then the physical process.

In the left arch stands a stonemason. He is elevated on a crude wooden bench, in the middle of doing some carving. His head is above the heads of the other figures in the scene--possibly because as he is the one who brings the vision from idea to reality, he is the superior--he is the one doing the magic of craftsmanship.

There are 2 figures in the right archway. One is wearing a rather outlandish cape and hood in blazing red and orange. Perhaps he is dressed in the 'current fashion' of his age, which always denotes affluence and looks very impressive at that moment, but also always looks ridiculous a few years later. He is probably wealthy and he obviously has his own ideas about how the mason's work should look. He is most likely the architect of the design, or a patron--but he lacks the skill to bring his idea to fruition. He might represent creativity or creative spark.

The other figure is a cowled monk. This is his church. He appears to be listening very intently to the exchange between the mason and the man holding the plans. In some ways, he is caught between the two of them--he can neither design nor create. And yet, he is still very important. He has the power to veto everything, stop the project entirely. He is the last word. He also seems to represent tradition and authority.

The card seems, then, to represent tensions:

  • fashion/trends/fads vs tradition/ authority
  • the inner guide of the artisan vs constraints from the outside
  • seeking guidance from the two (creativity/trends and tradition) yourself
The three figures might also represent the three aspect of the self: the physical (mason), the mental (the architect), and the spiritual (the monk)--but that to me seems quite forced. The pentacles are in the stonework, so the mason is the star of the show here.

So this card is about how you approach your worldly concerns--the way you make a living, the way you approach worldly things. Whether you seek guidance or follow your own inner guide. Whether you follow the latest fad or go with the traditional route. And what the outside world thinks of your work--and how you let that affect you.

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