Six of Pentacles
To give is to enjoy possessively the object which one gives.
— Jean-Paul Sartre
Having just turned up back in July, the Six of Pentacles returns and shows us a picture of resources given and received. We could call it a portrait of charity. The Pentacles deal with the literal, physical, material world, and the Sixes are about reciprocity, exchange, and restoring equilibrium.
So we see a well-to-do merchant (some speculate this is the same character as in the Nine of Cups) who is dropping coins into the outstretched hand of one of the two beggars on their knees. Are these two the same lost souls that we see in the Five of Pentacles? This could easily be the case, since the Sixes are often the resolution of the conflicts of the Fives.
In his excellent and pragmatic book, Tarot for Life, author Paul Quinn notes that in every transaction of giving and receiving, there is an element of power. For instance, no one ever asked to borrow the car from Mom or Dad, or applied for a loan, or interviewed for a job, without understanding that there are times when we are dependent on the goodwill of the person in power.
How do we bestow what we value upon others? How do we ask for what we need? How do we wield the power of give and take?
We cannot be benefactors, unless there is someone to receive. The pleasure of sharing is lost, if no one wishes to take what we offer. By giving what we value, we receive blessings in turn. Thus, although there appears to be an imbalance of power between the merchant and the beggars, the scales in the card say otherwise.
Certainly there is also a shadow aspect to this card. It can portray co-dependence, domination and weakness, and the darker side of how we wield and are affected by power. For instance, in order to play the role of magnanimous benefactor, who is required to play the role of humble supplicant?
To gain what we need, are we demanding that someone beg us? Or are they requiring that of us? We are certainly being invited to be aware of the roles we play, since this is another of Pixie Smith’s “stage” cards (in which, if you look closely, the figures appear to be standing on a theater stage).
Now, as the shopping frenzy of the holidays gets going, and end-of-year charitable requests come pouring in (especially in a year that has seen so much financial hardship), the Six of Pentacles urges us to pay close attention to how we spend our money, what we give to others, and why.
Beware of hubris. Be mindful that the tables can turn. Who has and who has not, at any given moment, may switch. All of life is an exchange, often with one up and one down. Just remember that fortunes can turn on a dime.
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And let us not forget .. this is the last day of the month, and so is sacred to the great Triple Goddess, Hecate. On this day, and especially in this deepest dark time of the year, we honor the Her as Queen of the Night and the Goddess of Witches. Hecate is a protector of women, mighty advocate for the disenfranchised, and She who guards the Crossroads. It is She who teaches us the ancient Mysteries. May Hecate bless and guide us as we now journey in Her holy darkness.