If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
Thorin Oakenshield, from The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein
After all the Major Arcana intensity for the past three weeks, along comes one of our favorite personages in the Tarot, to help embody a course of action. In this week of the ancient sabbat of Lughnasadh, let us welcome this most timely visit from the King of Pentacles.
Crowned in flowers, he sits in a walled garden overflowing with blossoms and vines. His ornately carved throne features bulls’ heads – a nod to his connection to Earthy Taurus. We see a glimpse of his armor, suggesting his military prowess, as his left foot rests on another carving of a bull’s head.
But he is primarily garbed in a robe that features clusters of ripe grapes, symbol of the sweetness and intoxication of Life. The vines on his gown are entangled with the actual vines in the landscape, grounding him in their lush, earthy energies.
As he gazes thoughtfully at his Pentacle, he seems calm and relaxed, at least compared to the other Kings who range from the somewhat melancholy King of Cups to the rather stern Kings of Wands and Swords.
Real World Wisdom
The King of Pentacles, being a court card, is often an actual person. He (or just as likely — she) has great mastery regarding matters to do with money, work, health, home, and other concerns about our material, physical sustenance.
This is someone who may have profound abundance at their fingertips. They may be an important business person, or a leader in finances, like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who keeps begging the U.S. Congress to come to terms with the debt ceiling, most recently before going on their Summer recess. They’ve ignored him yet again, setting the stage for potentially devastating economic repercussions.
The King of Pentacles may also be a home and garden guru, or a very skillful trades person.
Often, King of Pentacles people are masterful regarding interests like collecting treasures (think antiques, expensive cars, or art), farming and gardening, animal care, fine dining and cooking, real estate, architecture, or environmental issues. Most often, in any of these arenas, they enjoy the spotlight, and rise to the top as leaders.
Wealth comes easily and naturally to them, although they may or may not necessarily accumulate lots of it. Instead, they recognize it is an energetic flow that grows when it’s kept moving.
Rarely big risk-takers, they are judicious with how they share what they have, and they build abundance sustainably, with a slow and steady hand, and a true sense of stewardship.
This King is not the most intellectual of the four, nor does he go in for big drama (more likely he hates it!). Nor is he the touchy-feely type who likes to discuss his emotions.
He is earthy, practical, methodical, and is the steadfast worker who gets things done. He makes a devoted father, a sensuous lover, and prefers to savor the very best of what life offers. It is no accident that his scepter is the same as that of The Empress.
The First Harvest
In modern Irish Gaelic, the name for the month of August is Lúnasa, and in Scottish Gaelic, Lunasda literally means the 1st of August. For millennia in countries throughout the Northern Hemisphere, this first week of the month named in English for Augustus Caesar has been a time for gathering in the first fruits, and observing the turning of the Wheel of the Year from High Summer, to the approaching Autumn.
Despite the hot days still ahead, this week marks the traditional beginning of Fall festivals. This sabbat known as Lammas, Lughnasadh, and First Harvest is the start of state and county fairs springing up like chanterelles. We now commemorate the gathering in of late summer fruits and vegetables, and the enjoyment of grain — both oven-baked, as well as fermented, in the tradition of John Barleycorn.
How perfect that our splendid King of the Harvest, wealth, and good health comes visiting now!
The Power of the Purchase
Despite the sumptuous energy of this card, this is not a week for risk-taking. Pause before being seduced by every hip new status symbol now showing up on the market, or before making uninformed, careless investment choices.
Yes, it’s true that the Sun/Mars conjunction last week has made many of the U.S. market indices jump to all-time highs, as have the markets of Hong Kong and India.
But the King of Pentacles cautions us to stay grounded. He would be the first to point out that such high-flying speculation is not always an indicator of actual money in your pocket, since little of the Wall Street money (and less every day) is “trickling down” to the majority of the populace.
History has also shown, over and over, that such inequities are rarely borne indefinitely, and unrest can spring up and spread, like nutsedge in a neglected garden.
The King of Pentacles is no miser and can be generous, as the Earth Herself is generous. But understanding the natural cycles of growth and decay, he tends to be conservative with his wealth. While he definitely loves to taste the very best of what the material world offers, he is also a champion for the environment, and a devoted steward of Earth’s gifts.
He cares if the Next Shiny Thing is made in Third World sweat shops; he does his homework about where his food comes from, and whose toil or suffering might behind those “cheap” deals. When he judges a price tag, he considers the hidden costs, too — to the Earth, to humanity, to economic justice and prosperity for all.
His needs are simple, but his tastes are refined. He recognizes that all wealth is not financial – health and good cheer are far more precious than gold.
Planning for Turning Times
Who in your life is playing an important part regarding the use and distribution of your resources? Whose wise advice do you seek, when it comes to spending, or investing?
When was the last time you sat down and got real with your budget, and made plans for the long term? How do you protect and enhance all that you value, including your health, your home, your job, and your money?
It is also perhaps a time when we are invited to redefine what wealth actually is, what value we put to the things that are life-sustaining and give us true pleasure.
Instead of trying to fill up the bottomless commercial pit of manufactured needs, let us understand how greed and acquisition make things worse, both for our Mother Earth, and our own souls.
The King of Pentacles urges us instead to understand and be grateful for all the abundance we already have. How would our environment, our political systems, and our health and well-being all be different, if only we would realize that enjoyment, not acquisition, is the true nature of wealth?
As we gather round our harvest tables, welcoming the shifting of the seasons, let us drink a toast to the King of Pentacles. Here’s to the understanding that less hoarding, and greater sharing of food, song, and merriment will make us all far more healthy, wealthy, and wise.