If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.
~ Oprah Winfrey
Here’s a card that we haven’t seen in a long time. Not that we’ve been missing him much.
In Tarot numerology, the fours are about stability, grounding, and consolidation. Just week before last, we saw the magical result when Fire is grounded by a Four.
But the Pentacles are Earth-ruled matters, like finances, work, health, and all to do with the physical, material world. Thus, in the money- and practical reality-focused energy of Pentacles, this is like grounding groundedness. Such a double dose of stability borders on petrification.
Here we have a crowned figure gazing out at us with a rather world-weary expression. He holds up one Pentacle covering his heart, his feet rest on two more, and the fourth is balanced in a rather unlikely position on his golden crown. Arthur Waite merely comments, “He holds to that which he has.”
The True Nature of Kingship
It is interesting to compare this petty king’s demeanor to the actual King of Pentacles who has visited us twice recently (most recently here).
The King of Pentacles holds his coin lightly on his lap gazing down at it. Clearly, his focus is on what he already possesses.
He sits in a flowering garden, under a sunny sky. His robe is intertwined with grapes, leaves, vines, and he is surrounded by a riot of fruitfulness.
Meanwhile, in the Four of Pentacles, the crowned man only stares out at us. Is he thinking about what he does not have?
This another one of Pamela Colman Smith’s “stage cards,” in which a double horizontal line across the card makes it appear that the figure is on a theater stage.
This device hints at drama, or some kind of artifice. It emphasizes that this is not someone who is connected to Nature’s bounty. Instead he sits on his stage, the city (or props made to look like a city) in the background, his surroundings in gray. Only in the distance do we see any living thing.
In times not so long ago, kings were considered the sacred mediators of wealth and bounty for all. Rather than hoarding or boasting about their wealth, or taking it unfairly from their subjects, their power was recognized as a sacred trust of stewardship. Their lives were forfeit should the harvests fail, or widespread misfortune come to their people.
The king was only recognized to the extent that he was in harmony with the Divine, and particularly the Mother Land.
But the king in the Four of Pentacles may represent our more modern, artificial abstractions about power and wealth. This is a king disconnected from Life, in a sterile, empty world, clinging to every coin he can scratch together.
His grip makes it impossible for him to receive; he can only keep what he has. Without understanding the natural ebb and flow of abundance, he must stay in constant control. Thus, he is in perpetual fear of lack.
I like to think that the preponderance of the color gray in the Four of Pentacles is a nod towards the fact that money itself is neutral — neither good nor bad. It is simply energy, and our choices determine whether its use brings harm or help.
So this could be a good time to better structure our finances, strengthen our assets, and resolve to make fiscally sound decisions. As Summer vacations begin to wind down, and that “new school year” vibe hits people of all ages, a closer look at budgets and expenses could be a smart move.
But don’t let financial care turn to stinginess. Miserliness is as unwise as careless squandering, for it plants the very seeds of lack.
This week, if you’re paying your bills, or dealing with money concerns, remember that Spirit is not stingy with Her gifts. What do you do with the assets you have created? Do you spend in accordance with your heart’s values? Is your money used for sharing, nurturing, and affirming that which is Good in life? How much is enough, or as one of my uncles used to say, “a plentiful sufficiency?”
Also, pay attention to who holds the purse strings in your family, your community, and the global stage.
Are those strings clutched tightly, manipulating people and events like marionettes? Who pushes the buttons of our economies? And to what purpose?
How dreary the world would be if we actually allowed this fearful little man (who would be king) to decide and control what is of value. Beware of his kind, for they do not mind turning our world to ash-gray, as long as they get their payoff.
Let us not forget, as so many apparently have, that gratitude and acceptance compound our wealth. True and lasting prosperity comes only to the hand that is open and generous, not the fist that is closed.