Three figures—a stonemason, a monk, and a nobleman clutching a manuscript —are engaged in conversation in the vault of a church. Three Pentacles are carved into the central column.
As with all the Threes, the Three of Pentacles suggests a religious influence in the form of the Trinity, even in the material world, hence the setting of this card and the presence of the monk. It also speaks to the threefold nature of our physical existence, symbolized here by architecture: the stonemason builds and the monk consecrates, but neither of them can accomplish their tasks without the aid of the architect who draws up the blueprints—the manuscript the nobleman consults for guidance—and who supervises the construction. So too with our “inner architecture.” Our physical body builds the temple with diet and exercise; our unconscious religious impulse calls upon spirit for guidance; and spirit, in turn, provides the Divine architect—the creative mind—with the spark of inspiration He needs to envision the temple, and endow the work with a higher purpose.
Meanings of this card can include: Industry and work, fruitful labor, purposeful work, the consecration of the House of God, the Holy Trinity made manifest on earth; but also laziness, poor workmanship, shoddiness, labor without purpose, the desecration of the House of God, or separation from God. “By the sweat of your bread shall you eat your bread,” God scolded Adam. Sometimes, however, the sweat of our brow can be a blessing if we answer a higher calling in our working lives. If not, however, we can find ourselves mired in a pit of our own design, as we’ll see in tomorrow’s reading.