As a reminder, the suit of Pentacles is driven by feminine energy and represents values related to stability, growth, and material aspects in the life of the Querent or subject of a reading. Scholars and academics have connected the suit of pentacles to the classical element of earth, and most of the cards from that suit embody the symbolic attributes of this element, one way or another.
Three of Pentacles card: Traditional meanings
The three of pentacles represents a desire to build something that will stand the test of time, something larger than what the Querent or subject of the reading might achieve on their own. As such, it highlights the benefits of teamwork, and of several skilled people working together towards a common goal.
All should keep in mind that every single member of the team is essential to the overall dynamics of the project and that together they are greater than the sum of their parts.
Upright: Teamwork, creativity, creation, learning, and skilled work.
Reversed: Ineffective design, lack of harmony, a black sheep within a group, and working alone when you need help.
Upright Three of Pentacles card
The Three of Pentacles in the RWS tarot deck illustrates a scene happening in a church or cathedral (as evidenced by the classic architecture of the columns and archways, one of them bearing the three pentacles of the suit as if they were a stained glass picture or a bas-relief.
The main character seems to be a sculptor at work on the left side of the picture. He is currently receiving advice or instructions from the two other characters, one in a flamboyant outfit, and the other obviously a priest or abbot.
Within the suit of Pentacles, the core meaning of the three of pentacles echoes what happens in the scene, highlighting the power of teamwork when working towards a common goal. What is important to notice is that the three characters on the minor arcana card all seem to bring something different to the mix: the sculptor brings his craft, the priest brings his vision, and the third character with a plan in his hands seems to be an architect offering suggestions on how to bring it all together.
The three of Pentacles is also a card of learning, and of fruitful collaboration. This usually refers to the first steps in a collaborative plan, once the final goal has been set and a reasonable plan to reach it has been designed and agreed upon by the various members of the team.
There is also a dimension of learning to be found in the three of pentacles, as each member of the team will probably learn and grow from shared experience with the other members who all provide specific areas of expertise to the project.
Reversed Three of Pentacles card
All the focus and harmony brought by teamwork in the upright meaning of the three of pentacles are broken down when this minor arcana card appears reversed in a reading. It usually represents someone working alone while clearly unable to perform a specific task on his or her own.
It could also represent a surge of disharmony rising up within a team. In that case, the other cards drawn in the spread will usually point out to the source of the problem, and a potential way to deal with it before it festers and puts an end to the actual collaboration. Combined with one of the court cards in any suit, it might draw attention to one element of the team not pulling their weight and dragging the rest of the team down with them.
Three of Pentacles and love
When the three of pentacles is drawn in a love-related reading or spread, usually it does not really focus on the feelings or relationship itself but rather on what the partners can achieve together. It might represent a couple working on improving their home, or a romantic connection extending to the professional domain, like a couple working together in the same company, or even building their own company together.
Unless the card was drawn reversed in the spread, this is usually a rather positive card to find in a tarot reading and as such tends to imply that any professional collaboration would probably be successful or profitable for everyone.