Updated: Apr 14, 2021
Assemble your Squad!
I don't care for American Football, but I have always loved the saying "huddle up." And that is the essence of the Three of Pentacles, y'all. When it shows up, guaranteed your problem is one that is so big, so challenging and multifaceted that you need some help overcoming it. And pssst...just a little hint here: the help you need is definitely people shaped. Whatever your challenge or project is, you will benefit greatly from bringing in some outside help--and not a solo contractor, either. The Three of Pentacles' message is that you can make change and manifest something that is real, magnificent, and lasting on the physical plane by being in collaboration with others.
In the Rider-Waite Smith Tarot card illustration, we see a builder, a monk, and an architect working together to build a great cathedral. They bring their individual skills, multi-faceted talents, and many resources to bear to create a beautiful structure that will stand for centuries. The job of building such a timeless, powerful edifice simply cannot be done without the combined talents and effort of each individual player. Anyone else picking up Ken Follet, Pillars of the Earth vibes here? This Tarot card is so useful in the age of Zoom. Whenever I'm dreading a long Zoom meeting or online class, I find the Three of Pentacles from whatever Tarot card deck I have at hand and clamp it to my laptop. It's a great reminder that no matter how tired or annoyed I am, I am here for a reason. My skills and talents are needed to make whatever task or project I'm handling work.
This Tarot card resonates so very deeply for me because of what it can mean for abuse survivors. Women suffer in silence, sometimes for years, because their abusive relationship got too big for them to handle alone just at the moment they realized how completely, utterly isolated they'd become. This is all the more dismaying for women who are themselves privileged and blessed with talent, intelligence, and are professionally successful in their own right. And intimate partner abuse can be particularly paralyzing and bewildering for women who are otherwise mentally and emotionally healthy--they've simply never had to actively reach out for support before. Just grappling with the realization that you are in an emotionally abusive relationship is paralyzing in and of itself. How many women have looked in the mirror and thought, "I can't believe that this is where I am. I had the world at my feet, and now I'm being abused. I'm the one thing I swore I'd never be: a victim. And I can't get out. I don't know how."
Society does such a heartachingly efficient job of shaming, stigmatizing, and labeling victims as "weak" and "pathetic" that even the most rational, well educated and well-resourced survivors are so shocked and baffled by where they find themselves, the very idea of asking for help seems laughable. And the worst part? By this point, women are often effectively cut off from everyone that they know and love.
How does this happen? Very gradually-in much the same way slow moving water can eventually up cut out a deep valley. Abusers isolate by systematically destroying your support system. Why? Because an abuser cannot convince you that only "they"care about you when you have regular, loving and supportive contact and communication with other people. It's difficult for him to make a compelling case for being the only person that really loves you when your Mom, Dad, and big bro are constantly aiming love beams at you at family gatherings or over Zoom. If you waltz in from Girls Night Out (remember those?!) walking on air, feeling fierce and powerful, you're less likely to wilt under his scathing looks and subtle slights and insults. So, after initially charming the pants off of your parents and good girlfriends, the abuser begins the slow work of convincing you that your friends are ______ (insert misogynistic, patriarchal slurs here.) Your family is _______ (insert slanderous synonym for the words "dysfunctional, manipulative or abusive" here.) Or the abuser is such an openly nasty, passive-aggressive nightmare that you up distancing yourself from your friends, family, and supportive coworkers just to spare them and yourself the embarrassment. The work is slow and insidious, but by the time survivors realize just what kind of spiders' web they've been trapped in, they are also realizing how efficiently their abuser has separated them from everyone they really love, depend upon, and trust. And this is where the energy and spirit of the Three of Pentacles can make its own miracle.
If you are a survivor and this card appears, it's time for you to begin to assemble (or reassemble) your squad. Now is not the time to be shy. Believe me, your good friends and family are missing you! If all you can manage (and I know how mentally and spiritually wearying the abuse can be) is a text saying, "Hi," then by all means do it. Also, don't be afraid to widen your perspective and think outside the box. Sometimes a "helper" can take the form of a doctor, doula, yoga/ fitness instructor, energy healer, teacher, or nurse practitioner.
Singer and dancer FKA twigs told her story of heartbreak and abuse survival in the New York Times last month. Although she is talented, beautiful, and financially independent (I'm not joking, this woman has performed in front of millions, and was once engaged to actor James Pattinson from the Twilight saga) twigs realized, way too late, that her abusive boyfriend, Shia LeBoeuf, had slowly cut her off from almost all of her friends, family, and even employees. One of her dedicated staff noted that while she actually spoke to twigs often, her abusive boyfriend had her boss in such a state of fear that she felt a million miles away. Eventually, with the support of her therapist, twigs got the support she needed. She not only escaped the abuse but is now suing her boyfriend and has gone public to support and inspire other survivors.
And lastly, I want to shout out and express my love and gratitude to those of you who have already teamed up to help out another isolated survivor. And if you've never experienced abuse or been trapped on the Power & Control rollercoaster ride before, know that another aspect of the Three of Pentacles Tarot card is the call to action to help someone else. Believe it or not, you probably already know or love someone who's been isolated like this or who is living under coercive control right now. We know 48.4% of women have experienced at least one psychologically aggressive behavior by an intimate partner. 4 in 10 women have experienced at least one form of coercive control by an intimate partner in their lifetime and 17.9% of women have experienced a situation where an intimate partner tried to keep them from seeing family and friends.
And I list all of this dreary info because even though I've spent damn near 20 years studying IPV and working in service to my sisters-in-survival sometimes I know that I must never forget just how ubiquitous this constant attack on women and girls is.
But regarding the Tarot and its appearance in your reading, the Three of Pentacles Tarot card may either be a hint from the universe, or a ping from your own subconscious to do an inventory of your own personal and professional skill sets, personality traits, gifts, and shadows. Why? Because one day you may need you to bring those gifts to bear to help another woman in need. It doesn't mean that you have to take some drastic action immediately. But it is so good to be intimately familiar with the tools in your own personal arsenal because, as the statistics show, one day a dear friend or family member may need them. And as the folks down home say, if you stay ready you don't have to get ready.
Yours in Tarot, Power & Soul,