III. The Three of Pentacles
With a toiling scarecrow in the fields of every respectable farm in Swords Country, it came as no surprise when we witnessed a confused cloud of knights clumsily making their way down the road that ran through September Hollow. While communication isn’t the strongest suit of a Knight of Swords, the troop was fortunately headed by the Page of Swords, whose sharp tongue was known to get to the point. We could easily guess where they were headed and just as easily presume why they were headed there.
A few days later, word travelled back to the village from workers at the building site of the new wing of the Palace of Swords. The mystic was overseen leading some sort of presentation amidst the dull blue lights of the incomplete palace wing. The Page of Swords was witnessed skeptically watching a demonstration of an animated scarecrow while the King and Queen observed silently with clinically scrutinizing eyes. Word had leaked that the Swords Family had met the idea of Scarecrow Agriculture with a certain amount of suspicion, but how could they ignore the wonders of a scarecrow animated before their eyes?
Ultimately, it appeared they were swayed by the magical oddity and its otherworldly mistress. Despite the Page’s famous cynicism, the King and Queen were said to have given the mystic a payment for a probationary contract in which she would be put in charge of the vast but harsh royal gardens of the Swords Family. Agriculture in the Kingdom of the Swords was challenging to say the least. However, we’d seen the mystic work wonders in the fields of September Hollow. It’s hard to say that earned her our faith, but there was definitely a strange air of confidence in the village as we heard the news that the mystic of September Hollow had been appointed as the Head of Agriculture for the Garden of Swords.
Another interesting observation was made that day, although potentially less significant to the overall story of the mystic and her brief time in the Kingdom of Swords. She was seen giving a third of her down payment to her assistant. This may seem inconsequential but it opened new doors into our theories on the relationship between the mystic and her assistant. It isn’t unheard of to see such a division of earnings in the Kingdom of Swords but it could easily be deemed generous. While the mystic remained an enigma to us, we still had enough prejudices to be surprised by this momentary glimpse beyond her iciness to actually catch a glimmer of what could be seen as kindness or appreciation.
The Three of Pentacles is a card pregnant with financial opportunities but with it comes legitimate challenges. Imagine a pay advance on a major project. The mystic is in a strange position in the Three of Pentacles because she’s been focused on perfecting Scarecrow Agriculture and she’s confident that she’s reached a sense of mastery with it, but it’s still a relatively new venture for her. The royal family of Swords have approached her with a proposition, naming her their Head of Agriculture. This all seems like good news and in several ways it is; the pentacle coins are in hand. But what’s important to consider with the Three of Pentacles is that the mystic has never tried to work with Scarecrow Agriculture on this scale before, nor has she worked under such scrutinizing, skeptical authority. The financial start-up is great news and forward movement on a monetary goal but it’s also just the beginning of a period of focused work. Therefore, the Three of Pentacles may be a reason for celebration but it shouldn’t be a “mission accomplished” party.
A Probationary Contract at the Heart of the Three of Pentacles
The card displays a pivotal moment at the close of a demonstration the mystic has just presented by request of the Swords Family. The scarecrow was the focus of this demonstration as the Swords Family wants the opportunity to carefully inspect Scarecrow Agriculture and understand it as much as possible before drawing up any contracts. The mystic is seen handing a scroll to the King and Queen of Swords. The scroll can be viewed as the signed contract just as easily as it can be viewed as diagrams and detailed plans explaining the magic behind Scarecrow Agriculture.
The Swords Family have a natural suspicion in approaching unfamiliar matters. This is perhaps best exemplified in the expression and stance of the Page of Swords whereas the King and the Queen exhibit more of a cold confidence in their summation of the demonstration. These expressions are actually the beginnings of acceptance in the Swords Family, looking to outsiders as resignation. Since the Swords Family approach unfamiliar transactions with shrewd reservation, they are offering the mystic a three pentacle advance to implement Scarecrow Agriculture in the Garden of Swords. The position as Head of Agriculture is probationary, illustrating the “prove yourself” theme at the heart of the Three of Pentacles card.
The Confidence and Ambition of the Mystic
While the Page of Swords is skeptical and the King and Queen are cautiously accepting, the mystic is seen to be confident in her abilities to handle the immediate challenge. This symbolizes a blindness to limitations, a sort of “biting off more than can be comfortably chewed” that isn’t a given in the Three of Pentacles but is an underlying theme that can sometimes raise its head.
The mystic’s potential hubris is balanced by her willingness to share, another underlying theme of the Three of Pentacles. Even in her proud moment of victory she doesn’t forget the valuable help she received from her assistant and quietly acknowledges this by discretely handing 1/3 of her earnings behind her back to her pleasantly surprised and appreciative assistant.
The Divine Union
One of the major themes of the Three of Pentacles is a sense of teamwork; the idea that multiple parties are coming together for the advancement of a greater enterprise. The Swords Family are giving the mystic and her assistant the resources to take Scarecrow Agriculture to new heights while the mystic is using her magical ingenuity to potentially save the struggling agriculture of the Kingdom of Swords. This binding spirit is seen in the knots of the pentacles in the borders as well as the neatly knotted rope around the scarecrow’s burlap hood. The mystic’s robes are embroidered with the rune of Mannaz which stands for “divine union.” Mannaz is also carved into the foreheads of the jack-o’-lanterns lining the border.
To symbolize the common Three of Pentacles theme of building up projects or ideas, the probationary contracts are being signed in a yet-to-be-completed wing of the Palace of Swords. The columns of the Palace of Swords’ new wing rise from beds of hollyhock, a flower symbolizing ambition. This can be seen as reinforcing the mystic’s pride in the face of the looming challenge before her.
The new wing of the Palace of Swords serves as a perfect example of a world out of time. This has nothing to do with symbolism but is rather the world that the mystic (and the rest of the characters in my tarot series) inhabit. The stone pillars feature working blue electrical lights. In other cards, I’ve shown the mystic’s assistant using an electric tablet and stylus. I wanted the characters to live in a world that was simultaneously futuristic and ancient, defying logic and reason; a world where some a duel may be clashing swords or drawing laser guns and no one flinches.