Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

Tarot Card of the Week: July 20-26, 2009

The Six of Pentacles

Every good act is charity. A man’s true wealth hereafter is the good that he does in this world to his fellow.
— Moliere (1622-1673)

Money certainly does seem to be on the forefront of many peoples’ minds. Of course, the economic crisis goes on, perhaps not being covered by the news as spectacularly as it was. But it is still taking a toll that is deeply serious. On a more personal level, many of you reading this are working with me through Chapter Six of The Artist’s Way, which deals primarily with our blocks and beliefs about our own prosperity.

So having this card show up for only the second time in my weekly offerings seems significant. While experts sift through the entrails of economic minutiae, searching for clues that the worst is over, the waves of contraction and loss are still hitting ordinary people and businesses large and small, wiping out savings and serenity. In the areas around security, prosperity, wealth and power, there is no calling back the radical transformation now underway of what these terms mean, as well as who will possess them.

Thus, the Six of Pentacles seems to point to a week when we should pay very close attention to these changes, especially to what we need, how we spend, and how we share. It is especially a time to beware of hubris.

According to Joan Bunning, the wonderful Tarot teacher, scholar and author of Learning the Tarot, “The Six of Pentacles is a difficult card to describe because it falls in the shadowy area between the lack of the Five of Pentacles and the affluence of the Ten of Pentacles. These two cards represent the extremes of not having and having. The Six of Pentacles covers the huge middle ground where it is not clear exactly who has what.

“On this card,” she notes, “a well-to-do gentleman is tossing a few coins to a beggar while another supplicant waits to the side. The giver holds the scales of justice as if claiming the right to decide who deserves blessings and who does not.”

Notice that here we have another one of Pixie Smith’s “stage” cards. The figures are on what appears to be a theatre stage, and the hills and buildings in the background may or may not be real. This calls into question the role we play when we offer charity, as well as when we ask for help.

Joan comments, “In this picture we see both sides: what it means to give and to receive, to dominate and to submit, to be on top and to be on the bottom. It seems clear who has and who hasn’t, but is it? Life is not that simple, and how quickly fortunes change.”

As we are seeing, people like Bernie Madoff, who appear to be both vastly wealthy and generously philanthropic, are often exposed during economic low tides. Ponzi schemes, scandals, corporate and political corruption involving people who manage wealth in the public trust have become the daily news in the United States, Britain, and other countries.

It strikes me how the wealthy man in this card is simply dropping these coins, choosing not to be bothered whether they are actually received; he does not touch the recipient with a gentle hand. Is it all for show? No doubt he is certain he is being painstakingly fair and impartial.

But doling out pennies in public, while the other man is forced to wait on his knees betrays something important about his character. How would you feel about seeing this scene before you? Which of the figures do you most identify with?

All fortunes rise and fall. The tables can turn at any time. This week, be generous and genuinely grateful for what you have. Remember that the hand of giving is best not paraded for all to see.

Share in ways that do not rob others of their dignity. And if you see there is need, offer your aid in ways that respect what people feel they need, rather than what you believe is good for them.

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  • July 20, 2009, 12:45 pm Derik

    I've always liked the Pentacles. The way you've put this interpretation is especially interesting, and so I had to of course get out my own deck and meditate a bit over what this week will be for me. Very groovy indeed.

  • July 20, 2009, 2:57 pm Cheri

    Share in ways that do not rob others of their dignity. And if you see there is need, offer your aid in ways that respect what people feel they need, rather than what you believe is good for them.

    I couldn't agree with you more. All too often, we want to help people by giving them what we think they should need, rather than asking what would truly benefit them.

    We see this so frequently in our aid to other countries, where we try to get them to plant seed that difficult to grow in their climate, using methods suited to different areas of the world. But it happens on a personal level, too.

    Cheri
    78 Steps
    http://www.78steps.com/

  • July 20, 2009, 7:11 pm Thalia

    Wow, all about spending and giving and being aware of hubris and dominance in doing so. That's kind of a lot of assumptions about where we as individuals are. When I first saw this card here I felt overwhelming relief, oh, good, someone is going to pay me, or money is coming my way, finally. I definitely identified with the beggars.

    I know we are always told, well, for one, that it is better to give than to receive, but I wonder just what the assumptions you are making here are. That we are all of us in the position to give? We might not be, actually. I know this is a prosperous nation, but something about the giving + gratitude formula is annoying me today. Sometimes we are the ones in need. It is hubris to assume we are not, or that, no matter how little we have we should be finding something to be grateful for. No, dammit. That is invalidating my needs right now.

    I mean I get it; but today, as I am scrambling to make money for a trip I'm going on in a week, and as I pay my bills and balance my checkbook and realize I'm going to be scraping for the bare minimum, and as I worry yet another day how in Hel I am going to pull it off in a week, the assumption (with guilt thrown in to boot) that I am in a position of giving, rather than receiving, is putting me off.

    See, in times like this I don't care if the wealthy man is arrogant about it, or what any of this says about his character. Because I need those pennies he's giving out. I don't have the luxury of worrying about whether he (and by implication myself also) is taking the high road.

    I'm finding it all pretty condescending, actually.

  • July 21, 2009, 4:48 am Beth Owl's Daughter

    Wow, Thalia.. I did not mean it that way at ALL. I am pretty startled, in fact, by your taking it like this..

    We may be a prosperous nation, but I am very painfully aware of the real economic hardships that individuals are facing.

    I was really thinking more in terms of the Bernie Madoffs, the Enrons, the scandals we've seen recently in the British Parliament, and all the other bottom feeders that, as I say, low economic tides seem to activate but (hopefully) expose.

    Often, they have been there all along, and worst of all, they prey on people's generosity, vulnerability and better natures.

    My apologies if you somehow thought this was directed at you in a condescending way. Nothing could have been further from my intention.

    And I am especially sorry to hear you are in such a painful situation. Sending you good wishes for serenity and the prosperity you need.
    – Beth