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With the Three of Pentacles appearing in the reversed position for this free tarot reading, we’re turning our attention to professional matters. Upright, this card suggests a presence in the work world and all the toil, success, frustration, and recognition that come with it.

But in reverse, the Three of Pentacles means you’re feeling removed from all of that. Are social distancing and self-isolation keeping you outside your normal work-life pattern during the COVID-19 outbreak? Or have you been removed from your professional life for a while? In either case, this tarot card invites you to shed some light on the feelings that come up for you when you think about the distance between you and your work as a way of being in the world.  

First, we unpack the imagery of the Rider-Waite version of the card. Then we translate that meaning into your fortune.

Three of Pentacles tarot card meaning from the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith deck
Three figures representing an artisan, noble, and monk stand beneath carved stars, in the Three of Pentacles card.

The Three of Pentacles card in the Smith-Waite Centennial tarot deck

In the iconic Rider-Waite-Smith version of the Three of Pentacles, we see three figures beneath an elaborate church archway. Now interestingly, in this card, the three Pentacles or Coins are not actual golden coins—unlike the other cards of this earthly, material suit. Instead, we see the likeness of three coins etched into the stone at the top of the window, above one of the signature roses that appear throughout the deck as well as the backs of the cards

As far as fortune-telling meaning, we can infer from this symbolic representation of coins something of a removal from the intensely material meaning of the Pentacles suit overall. The suit tends to deal with the material world and literal wealth. But because of its abstraction, the Three of Coins is more conceptual. It represents wealth and material success as a goal. Otherwise, you can think of this card’s meaning as the idea of money—even our obsession with it—rather than money itself. And if you’re feeling preoccupied with questions about your career or professional success, then the Three of Pentacles is the tarot card for you.

The professional meaning of this card is also clear from the three figures themselves. We see an artisan, a noble, and a monk. Remember that this is a Three card. And in this case, the triplicate meaning echoes the Three Estates of pre-Revolutionary France. This system divided all of society into three groups: the clergy, the nobility, and the commoners. We see every facet of this feudal work system represented in this tarot card.

The artisan—a commoner—is working on the church building. The monk represents the clergy, overseeing the secular work in this holy space. And the noble is the managerial class—or, more generously, the patron funding this work. Essentially, the Three of Pentacles presents us a snapshot of work in action—even if it takes an antiquated form. Everyone here has their role in the professional system. And they have come together through labour relations to disperse and generate wealth.

The Three of Pentacles reversed and professional alienation

But our approach on how to read tarot cards in reverse suggests that today, you’re not feeling like you’re a part of this system. Instead, you’re on the outside. You’re looking at the professional world without the ability to participate. So what kinds of feelings does this alienation bring up for you?

In times of peace, of course, a little distance from the daily grind is a more-than-welcome privilege. Time off is essential. And it’s important for us to have space to live outside of labour relations—even just for a few weeks of the year.

Are you feeling removed from the work world?

But then there are times of crisis. Today, this tension could easily take the form of the coronavirus outbreak. It has laid so many of us off, and it’s obliged all socially responsible people to remain home as much as possible. But more broadly, this chaos can also take the personal form of unemployment or broader crises of recession in capitalism’s unsustainable crashing cycles. From disability to ill luck, there’s no shortage of factors that can remove us from our ability to earn money and engage in the professional world.

Your invitation from the Three of Pentacles is simple. Ask yourself if you’re feeling cut off from your career or your professional ambitions right now, and then simply listen. When times get tough and our bodies kick into survival mode, we can lose track of our own feelings in the panic. Confronting these anxieties head-on is scary. But is it possible instead to make a little viewing port and just look at what comes up for you? Don’t worry about changing or correcting anything today. Simply note what you see.