Conduit: The Three of Pentacles

Conduit is a column that organizes travel, reading, and personal experience through the frame of a single tarot card. Taking the advice of Jessa Crispin in new book The Creative Tarot, I decided to draw one card a day to learn what that card had to offer for thinking about my work. I wanted to see how a card might resonate with what was going on out there. The cards remind me to pay attention, trust my gut, and fill myself up. 

Here’s today’s card:


The Three of Pentacles

If coin cards are all about bringing something into reality – how the matter of the world around us comes into being – then the Three of Pentacles represents the planning phase. Blueprints, discussions, delegation, spreadsheets, to-do lists. Who’s on your team? How do you build something that lasts?


In Los Angeles, I spent equal amounts of time engaging with people at a writer’s conference and running away from the writer’s conference to re-charge. This year, I wasn’t manning a table or promoting my book, I was just drifting. I’ve been thinking hard about my reasons for wanting to run a press, my fear of jumping into such a huge project on my own.

How did so many other people find natural collaborators? How did I – with all my enthusiasm and knowledge and know-how – wind up on the outside looking in? Pressless! Where was my team?

I’m not interested in a pity party, so I force myself to think differently: what are you waiting for? What if you decide to just stop waiting?


One of the exhibits at the Getty featured huge tapestries from Louis XIV’s many chateaux. Inside the gallery, the lights were dim, the walls painted deep forest green and dark maroon. Curators shuttered the skylights, preventing any of that gorgeous California sunlight from damaging the delicate wall-hangings.

How to tell you how much room these tapestries took up? A single one could blanket an entire wall – first and second story – of my family’s house.

In the corner a video played, many women running their shuttles through the weave, tamping their threads into place. I thought about these women, and the women before them who had designed and then labored for hours – hundreds? thousands? – of hours to weave tapestries for a king who was so rich he could thread gold wherever and however often he damn well pleased.

Maybe women weren’t allowed to do even this much, maybe all the glory went to male guild members, I’m not sure. But in my imagination they are women, and they are weaving with nimble fingers, alternating between boredom and attentiveness. Automatic motion and considered planning.


In 1784, Mary Woolstonecraft wanted so badly to build a new, revolutionary space – one that would give her financial freedom from her wastrel father and bully of a mother – that she rushed headlong into creating a school with her two younger sisters and her best friend.

There was one tiny problem: her sisters detested teaching, expecting Mary to take care of them instead of working to earn their keep. They failed to continue the work when Mary stepped away from the school to care for a dying friend. Everything fell apart around their ears.

This was seven years before she finished a draft of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.


You know that terrible job interview question, “Where do you want to be in five years?”

It turns out when I answer that question honestly, I seem eminently less hirable in a 9-5 context. But also much happier with my answer.