The Meaning of the Five of Pentacles

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The Meaning of the Five of Pentacles

At a Glance

The Five of Pentacles depicts two mendicants – beggars seeking aid at a brightly lit church or castle. Both people are walking against the falling snow.

If You Drew This Card…

Even if you have very little experience reading tarot cards you can probably guess that the Five of Pentacles does not have a very fortunate meaning. You can read this card in a straightforward manner although reflecting on it with these questions can help you learn its deeper meanings:

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Upright

  • What do you really need to survive? Was there a time when you had everything you needed? What changed?
  • Has your focus on spiritual or intellectual matters made you feel like an outcast or exile from your community? 
  • How can you work with those around you to make the best out of a difficult situation?

Reversed

  • Are you holding onto something of material value that has a negative affect on you? Are you worried that letting go will thrust you into unfamiliar terrain?
  • Are you frightened of delving deeper into the big questions of life because you worry it will make you second guess some of your life choices?
  • Do you quickly judge others who exhibit signs of weakness without considering your own weaknesses? How can you use your differences to move forward in a rough time?

Interpreting the Symbols

  • Number five : Each of the fives in the minor arcana are related to strife, struggle, disappointment, and challenge in some way. In tarot, five is a number of transition and growth – two things that are rarely comfortable.
  • Pentacles : Pentacles often refer to the material world, physical concerns, practical matters, and the earth element. It is the final suit in many decks, indicating that this is the last stage in the process of manifestation.
  • Beggars : The man and woman on this card certainly indicate illness, poverty, lack, and destitution in one’s immediate life, but they can also have more complex meanings. For instance, they can represent neglect of the material world and the physical condition; focusing too much on one’s intellectual life or on spiritual matters can lead to a shaky material foundation.
  • Snow : The falling snow adds another layer of pathos to an already poignant scene. Even in the coldest times of year, storms can still occur; similarly, situations where people are already experiencing hardship can be made unnecessarily worse through cruelty, denial of care, and neglect.
  • Church or manor house : The stout stone wall behind the figures on this card might belong to a church, castle, or a rich dwelling. Inside is light and warmth where we can imagine all the good things in life are being enjoyed. However, all that separates this abundance from the deprivation outside is a single window; circumstances can change quickly, no matter how strong the walls we try to build against disaster.

Charmaine’s Take

The Five of Pentacles challenges the idea that material abundance is endless; just one wall separates abundance from deprivation.

This particular Five challenges ideas about personal material security and asks hard questions about how we relate to the fact of poverty, pain, disability, disease, and generational privation. Even if we feel helpless to solve the overarching problems, we are still trying to assist individuals? Who have we helped? Who have we shied away from helping?

Finally, this card makes us take a hard look at our own responses to finding ourselves in trying circumstances. When faced with pronounced need have we asked for the necessary help? Have we sought assistance to solve our problems? Have we even been able to recognize help when it is offered?

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