The Three of Pentacles – A One Page Guide

I had previously looked at the Three of Pentacles as a fairly prosaic card… just a day at work. Ho hum. But it’s actually about the nobility of creation and creativity. The card is at once obvious and subtle. Why does Waite specify that the workplace is a monastery? After all, the monastery’s functions include far more than just work. And why does Waite specifically say that the worker of the Three of Pentacles is the same person who we see in the Eight of Pentacles? There’s a trail we can follow via the major arcana associated with the planetary influence (the World): a reference to Genesis, no less! The answer is that the Three of Pentacles is not just about work… it’s about ennobled work. If we put aside Waite’s mystical Christianity, and think about his message in terms of today, we might see that when this card is drawn by a querent with questions about their job, for example, perhaps it is to suggest that one should consider whether that job is spiritually rewarding. This is a card that says “Quit the stock brokership, move to Hooterville and grow vegetables!”

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The Six of Pentacles – A One Page Guide

That one of the strengths of tarot is its strong storytelling ability may have something to do with a foundation in mankind’s oldest and most important myths and stories. In the Six of Pentacles it appears as if the rich man weighs the worthiness of the beggars before giving them charity. A century after the publication of the RWS deck, we as viewers may interpret this as an act of a very ill-natured type of charity. But the incorporation of the scales may have a different purpose. Taurus represents the Vernal equinox, the beginning of the life cycle in the agrarian age. Libra was the other end: the Autumnal equinox. This is why Venus is sometimes represented alongside both the bull and scales. The generosity of the Earth and agriculture then should be the main theme; but does our merchant portray that? We can trace the words of the divinatory meanings to their influences, but it is not certain that the message is entirely satisfactory today.

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The Two of Pentacles – A One Page Guide

The Two of Pentacles presents questions. Why are there dramatic waves in the background when the elemental influence is not water but Earth? Why did Waite go out of his way not to call the figure eight of the string game the Ourobouros, as the Golden Dawn group described it? And finally, and oddly enough, most importantly—what’s with the hat? Since we’re in Capricorn, we’d better take the Goat of Fear, some aliens called the Anunnaki, and Noah’s Flood into consideration as we try to make sense of these seeming contradictions. And contradiction is what makes the Two of Pentacles a tour de force. It communicates Waite’s Christian mysticism by pulling it out from what should be its opposite: spirit from material, Christianity from pagan; first power promising its own replacement by the ultimate power.

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The Nine of Pentacles – A One Page Guide

Is it about money or sex? Everything is about money or sex, and the RWS Nine of Pentacles is about both. We have a rich lady, a bird of prey in which the female of the species is dominant, a lubricated gender-inconclusive mollusk, a Zodiac sign whose symbol represents the sexual organs, and a qabalistic influence represented by the sexual organs. To put it another way, our lady of the Nine of Pentacles may be rich, but her only friend is a bird, and she spends all her time in a vineyard. We can view and admire the lady’s wealth and beautiful estate as much as we like, so long as we do not forget that Bacchus/Dionysus, Lord of the Grape Harvest, and Cupid may be hiding in the background. Waite appears to supress any sexual connotation in his divinatory meanings, but then, he was a Victorian. For myself, I think I shall re-interpret the divinatory meanings for this card into something along the lines of “successful and accomplished in the material world, but lacking something in romantic happiness.”

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The Four of Pentacles – A One Page Guide

The Four of Pentacles is one of those minor arcana cards with a short, though not particularly sweet meaning. The little king looks like a greedy little so-and-so, and that is pretty much the message. But there are a number of things we can note. One of them is that the illustration is, once again, in line with the astrological, elemental and qabalistic sources according to its position in the wheel, though the qabalistic source is given a bit of short shrift in this one. Capricorn and Saturn drive the emotional “tone” of the illustration. Capricorn is sometimes referred to as “the goat of fear,” and the Capricorn personality sometimes takes their natural strength of will to a rigid extreme. Saturn, of course, tended to eat his children. Earth merely provides the link to the very materialistic nature of this card. The point of interest is Chesed, which should be a force of love and charity, but in this case is so outweighed by the other, more negative aspects that all that remains of its “gift” are the divinatory meanings of legacy and inheritance. Our little king, “cleaving to that which one has,” his coins, becomes the personification of “You want this? You’ll have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands.”

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The Ten of Pentacles – A One Page Guide

This is the second of these guides. I’ll be jumping around, taking the minor arcana in random order. These guides show the Astrological/Qabalistic/Elemental influences upon Waite’s divinatory meanings and Colman Smith’s layouts. The little memo pad callouts represent the end result in divinatory meanings and/or layout. As a Venn diagram, it displays how each of the influences interact with the other influences, resulting in the divinatory meanings, and often, the components of the layout. Our subject today is the Ten of Pentacles. And what I myself found in examining it more closely is that more than just a well-heeled old guy near death, brooding, it’s really a story about the cycle of death and life, of the cycle of planting. I guess we should be glad that our Celt-maniac friend A.E. Waite didn’t substitute barley for Virgo’s wheat, else poor Pixie would have had to sneak John Barleycorn into the picture! 😉

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