Three of Pentacles
In the Three of Pentacles, we see three men working together collaboratively on the construction of what appears to be a temple or cathedral. The man standing on the bench is the builder, the apprentice who is doing the actual construction of the job. The other two men are said to be the architects or monks, possibly one of each, and they stand holding the blueprints for the job. Although the builder is not the one in charge, he is the specialist, and they strongly value his input on the job as well. There is the sense that even though these three men hold very different positions, they are a team, and all of their input is valuable.
It's no surprise that collaboration and teamwork are core meanings for this card. When this card appears, you are likely working on a project that is a team effort or you are being asked to work as a member of a team, or consider your position in the team. This card serves as a reminder that in this particular situation, you are not to do it alone, a group is involved.
A key question to ask yourself is, "what is my unique contribution to the team or project?" As in this card, each person has something special to contribute, a unique talent or ability, a gift. What wisdom or skills do you bring to the table to impart to the task at hand?
Another phrase that has been associated with this card is "work at the highest level". When I see this card appear in a reading about work or career in particular, it is encouraging, as it suggests that you are on the right path, that you are pursuing what it is you are meant to be doing, or something that is meaningful and satisfying to you. You are working within your zone of talent, and with your own special gifts. The builder is a skilled tradesman, he is perfecting his craft. This is a time to be proud of your accomplishments, and continue to work towards a dream that matters to you. You have the determination and skills to pursue it now.
It becomes obvious the three here is about improvements. The "builder" is you, and you are taking the first steps to build something better in your life. After the decisions you made in the two, you are starting the creation process. You could be going to school now, learning a trade, or on a personal level, reading self-help or relationship books to build the solid foundations for a healthy personal life.
Of course as a three, we are going to see the element of creativity appear in this card. The seed that was identified in the Ace and managed in the two has really taken shape and proliferated into something meaningful in the three. Three's denote synthesis, you are working to create something meaningful, and working with others to make it happen at the same time. Collaboration has always been a core principle of this card.
As a pentacle card, we also see the earth elements of practicality, systems and structure begin to come into play in this card as well. Therefore the Three of Pentacles also refers to managing the details, or otherwise known as paying attention to detail. In this card, you aren't just "getting the job done". You are looking at the fine details of the job, dotting your I's, crossing your T's and making sure every little item is exactly as it should be. In order to do the job right, you are not only paying attention to the details of your project, but also your time, effectively implementing a schedule for your plans and working it accordingly.
It's important to note that three's are also about assessment, you have reached the first stage of completion on the matter at hand, beyond the beginning in the ace, through to the creation in the three. This is a time that you are to evaluate where you are at. When we reach the four, we begin the next phase where we start to look at restructuring and conservation of what works and what doesn't. This is where paying keen attention to important detail also comes into play.
On a mundane level, this card could literally be about contracting jobs of skilled labor. You could be looking for work yourself, and if you are, expect to have to show proof of your talent and work. Conversely, you could be looking at doing some extensive renovating; this card is indicating that you need someone who is both talented and skilled at doing the job you are looking to have done. In the first scenario, you are the builder, in the second, you are the priest or monk, who commissioned the work.
Three of Pentacles Reversed
In the Three of Pentacles reversed, there are difficulties with being part of a team, or collaboration in some way. It is possible that you are working on something that requires teamwork, however the team that you are a part of is not functioning as a team should. There is no respect and collaboration. It could be that you are the builder in the card, and you are not having your ideas or your input heard, always simply having to follow others.
You may feel that your ideas are constantly being shot down or criticized, or that you are being asked to do things that you don't want to do, either because you feel they are unethical, unfair, or are simply being made to do the jobs that those in charge don't feel like doing.
You could be working in a team where someone is simply very stubborn, not willing to work collaboratively, or consider the input of the rest of team, and it's bringing discord to the team as a whole. One person could be vying to be in charge, and give orders to the rest, without considering the value that each member has to offer. Be careful that you are not this person, and that you are not the one being critical of other's work. If you are, this card is a clear sign, that this is not a solo job, and you would do well to consider treating others equally.
This card is about the details, so it could be that you are not paying attention to the fine details of your work, simply trying to move quickly to "get the job done", without giving it the proper care and attention to detail that it deserves. Your work could be sloppy. Another way this manifests is in your ability to be overly-critical about the details of the project itself, or of yourself and your work. Don't be too critical of yourself, this is still just the initial phase, there will be plenty of time to refine, restructure, and remove parts later as you move through the different stages of your work.
It could be that you don't have a team or the right team for your project. If you are working solo, this card could be an indication that you would benefit from having others on board with you. We are not masters of everything. Do what you are extremely talented at, and find the right people to delegate out the tasks that you are not as skilled at where someone else exceeds, as well as any work that is simple enough to be outsourced so that you may focus your productivity on the tasks that are truly important for you to be doing. It could be that your current team is just not a good fit, and as difficult as it is, you either need to leave the team and join another, or if you are in charge of the project, or it belongs to you, you need to get out there and network with people to find just the right people you want to work with.
The upright card carries the meaning of "work at the highest level", so when this card appears reversed, it's possible that you feel bored and dissatisfied with your work. Maybe your talents are not being utilized, or maybe you are working in what you feel is a menial job. Either way, you are not working to your highest potential, and feel that what you are doing right now is not the job, or the aspect of it, that is going to meet the requirements for your soul's growth, to feel like you are offering something meaningful to the world. It could also indicate that you are not putting forth the required effort to see your project or study program through. You lack follow-through and need to commit to your goals.
As a card of advice, it could be advising you to let go just a little bit. As much as we value doing a job the right away, sometimes it's possible to have TOO much of a good thing. The term "done is better than perfection" was created for a Virgo (an earth sign). You could be so detail driven that you go around your task or project endlessly making corrections and improvements, being overly critical, when at some point, you just need to call it 'done!' and get it out the door.
Lastly, as a Pentacles card, this card is about organization and systems. With any reversed pentacle we have the idea that the systems and structures you have put in place, or not for that matter, are not working out well. Again as this is a card of teamwork, collaboration and planning, it implies that there is not a schedule of work or plans for each team member that is clearly laid out and well articulated to the group. It is advised that you put something together if this is the case, so everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing, and can do their part accordingly.