Too many have dispensed with generosity in order to practice charity.
~ Albert Camus
From last week’s Seven, like the current Mercury retrograde, we seem to be going backwards. Returning for a visit exactly one year later, the Six of Pentacles appears this week of the Full Moon, in the middle of global financial crisis.
Here in the States, we continue to obsess over our credit rating. After all the “sturm und drang” of the debt ceiling debate, which was finally, rather unsatisfactorily dealt with last week, we still lost our S&P Triple A rating for the first time in U.S. history.
But it isn’t only all about us (U.S.). Spain and Italy are on the verge of huge defaults if they are not bailed out, dragging the European economy down with them. Ireland, Greece and Portugal are also in precarious territory. Even China, which is poised to replace the United States as the global economic behemoth, is fearful of the implications to its own stability with the U.S. now in hot financial waters.
So let’s take a look at what our card may have to say about the coming week, as it offers us a view of resources given and received.
The Pentacles, of course, 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 who is dropping coins into the outstretched hand of one of 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.
The Six of Pentacles seems to point to a week when we should pay very close attention to what we need, how we spend, and how we give.
As Tarot teacher and scholar Joan Bunning writes, “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, 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.”
She continues, “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.”
“The Six of Pentacles” she writes, “asks you to look very deeply into the whole issue of what having really means both materially (resources) and immaterially (knowledge, power, love). You may see yourself on one side or the other, but this card asks you to reconsider. Think of the successful businessman who suddenly declares bankruptcy. The tyrannical invalid who dominates through weakness. The teacher who learns from her students. The parent who controls by giving money.”
Think, I would add, of the rise and fall of The American Empire, as my friend astrologer Lynn Hayes has so brilliantly written in her column this week.
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.
As our frequent visitor and friend here, Arie, wrote previously when this card came up, “One of my teachers taught me, that when a poor person approaches me and I decide to give him some money, I should always ask this person, when handing him the money ‘Is this all you need?’ Do you understand the deep meaning of this question and how it may change this poor person’s life, in case he listens?”
Beautifully said, Arie.
Of course, when there are multiple figures in a card, the question arises, who do you identify with most right now? Are you the wealthy one, able to give? By your giving, who must you choose to exclude? Who will have to wait for your favors?
Or are you feeling more like the two figures on their knees? And are you the one receiving, or are you helplessly looking on, hoping that eventually, it will be your turn?
This week, beware of hubris. Charity without generosity is poisonous to both giver and recipient.
There but by Grace, go any of us. With Grace, compassion, and loving awareness, then, let us give and receive.