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)
In this week when we will celebrate the Greater Sabbat of Beltane, we receive another Six, but this time the Earthy Six of Pentacles.
The Pentacles deal with the literal, physical, material world, and the Sixes are about reciprocity, community, 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.
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.
Yet there is also a shadow aspect to the Six of Pentacles. It can portray co-dependence, domination and weakness, and the darker side of how we wield and are affected by wealth.
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).
I don’t know about you, but my email and Facebook accounts fill up multiple times every day with requests for donations for this cause or that (especially in this time that continues to be shrill with political division and 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.
Clicking a “like” button does not really motivate politicians, or resolve our civilization’s problems, or mediate injustice. Signing online petitions may give us the illusion that we have done something important and helpful. But is this actually the case?
If there are wrongs that need righting, the first step is to put your Pentacle — i.e., physical, tangible – resources to work.
But be wise with your giving. It pays to double-check charities with such watchdog groups as Charity Navigator, or your state Better Business Bureau, as there are many unscrupulous people who use similar-sounding names to the legitimate groups, for fraudulent purposes.
Believe it or not, there are even those who are trying to capitalize on the tragic Boston Marathon bombing with such scams.
It is fair and prudent to ask who is going to use your money, and to what ultimate purpose. Even our most casual purchases can give support to powers we may or may not find wholesome.
The Six also warns we must 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.
True wealth is measured by the good that you can give, when and where it matters.