4 of Pentacles A One Page Guide, Series 2

Capricorn has multiple origin myths. One of them is the story of Pricus, a sea-goat deity, goat above, fish below. Pricus may show us that in the Four of Pentacles, rather than representing wealth and greed, the illustration may portray the succession of generations. The core of the Pricus story is the heritage that parents pass onto children, and the search by the children for differentiation. Each generation modifies, adds and wields the transformed heritage as their Earthly dominion… until the next generation. The Order of the Golden Dawn called this card “Earthly Power.” The repudiation of the parents fuels the metaphor’s pathos. The story of Pricus, the time traveling goat, may provide us with an insight into Éliphas Lévi’s famously insightful quote about tarot, that “an imprisoned person with no other book than the Tarot, if he knew how to use it, could in a few years acquire universal knowledge, and would be able to speak on all subjects with unequaled learning and inexhaustible eloquence.”

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9 of Pentacles A One Page Guide, Series 2

Venus and Virgo walk into a bar. The bartender, Dionysus, reminds us of somebody… oh, yeah, that funny shaped guy with the Popeye arms, from the Nine of Cups, that’s who. Well, Dionysus sees the big bull-headed guy, Yesod, walk over to the two dames, now seated at the bar. “Uh oh,” he sez to himself, “I seen this movie before. He who gets slapped…” We are in Venus in Virgo, and Waite makes a minor adjustment to the Order of the Golden Dawn’s assignments. He moves prudence from the Eight to the Nine of Pentacles. Yesod better watch out.

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The Eight of Pentacles – A One Page Guide

A.E. Waite expends a lot of effort to make sure we see the laborer of the Eight of Pentacles as one who is learning his craft. In the Pictorial Key, he not only mentions this fact in his divinatory meanings for the Eight, he also points it out in his description of the Three of Pentacles. Why does he draw our attention to this? I suggest that Waite’s message is that tarot, and indeed, magic, can be learned by us in the same way that the apprentice learns: by starting out with the simple tasks; then through long experience at those tasks, over time, he becomes the skilled artisan. Our laborer wields his hammer like Mercury’s caduceus (which is basically a wand). He imbues magical energy into the symbol of the classical element of Earth, the coin. The result is the trophy, a symbol of something that he has won through his effort.

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The Seven of Pentacles – A One Page Guide

The Seven of Pentacles is one of those minor arcana in which Waite adheres fairly closely to the Golden Dawn point of view, yet adds his own spin. The Golden Dawn associated the card with ”promises of success unfulfilled.” That may have much to do with the location of the associated decan at the end of Taurus. Waite’s “spin” is quite interesting; it may describe the end of the agricultural age, replaced by the industrial age. In this respect, the Seven of Pentacles is not so much a transformation card as a “marker” for an ending. We should be careful not to underestimate the power of this card.

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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 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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