When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.
Alanis Obomsawin, Abenaki filmmaker, singer, and artist (earliest known attribution on record)
As we make our way forward into the third month of this Emperor Year of the Tarot, we are visited by a similarly aspected leader. Welcome this week to the most literal King of the Tarot, the King of Pentacles.
With Pentacles being the suit connected to the element of Earth, he deals with our physical reality, and is most likely a very powerful and well-to-do person of importance.
Crowned in flowers, the King of Pentacles is depicted sitting 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 unlike the overtly warlike Emperor, this King is clearly a man of peace and prosperity. He is 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, especially when compared to the other Kings who range from the somewhat melancholy King of Cups to the rather stern Kings of Swords and Wands.
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; instead, he is more the “strong, silent type.”
The King of Pentacles is earthy, practical, methodical, and is the steadfast worker who climbs to the top by getting things done.
Staying grounded, taking seriously his duty as a loving caretaker to the Earth, and trusting the natural pace of life’s unfolding are core to this King’s strategy for success.
Who Might He Be?
As a court card, the King of Pentacles is often an actual person. He (or she) has great mastery regarding matters to do with money, work, health, home, and other concerns about material, physical sustenance.
He could be a fitness guru, a successful chef with a franchise, or affluent philanthropist. He may be an important business person, a leader in finances, an acclaimed landscape designer, or successful entrepreneur.
Often, King of Pentacles women and men are drawn to interests like collecting treasures, farming and gardening, animal care, cooking, real estate, architecture, or environmental issues.
Wealth comes easily and naturally to this King, 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.
The King is a loving parent, 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.
Rarely big risk-takers, they are judicious with how they share what they have. And yet they are rarely stingy.
As you probably know, 2019 was our planet’s second hottest year in the 140 years since records have been kept (topped only by 2016). And five of the warmest years have all occurred since 2015.
The climate emergency is real and we may be facing “untold human suffering” unless dramatic changes are implemented immediately. Only the most aggressively ignorant can at this point deny the gravity of the situation, as it is already taking a compounding toll on all life around the world.
So it is a gift to be visited by the King of Pentacles, who is a champion for our Grandmother Gaia. He guides us to be judicious with our spending, not only to build a personal nest egg of future security, but to make thoughtful choices regarding the businesses and goods that are, or are not, aligned with our values and the well-being of the planet.
Thus, he embodies the original meaning of conservative, with the emphasis on conservation and the wise use of resources.
It is true that the King of Pentacles is often a savvy business person, and so might be a wise investor and strategist when it comes to stocks, bonds, and futures. But he would also be adamant that wealth is not the same as money.
For example, as I write this today, the stock market has been in free-fall, due to panic over the coronavirus’ spread. But are stocks the same as prosperity?
He would be the first to agree with First Nations artist Alanis Obomsawin (quoted at the top) that wealth is not in bank accounts. Money cannot protect us from Nature, for we are not separate from the natural world. It is no substitute for clean water, air, or our precious forests, nor can it undo extinction.
The Ultimate Pragmatist
Who in your life is playing an important part regarding the use and distribution of your assets? Whose wise experience do you seek, when it comes to spending, or investing.
When was the last time you sat down and took an honest look at 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?
I think that his visit this week also suggests that we must be willing to take direct charge of our personal, and community wealth.
As we are discovering the hard way, many of our government oversight agencies once formed for the protection and well-being of our citizens, are being dismantled in order to serve corporate interests and their profits.
It is important to demand that a representative government stand for the interests of the people who elected it. But the King of Pentacles would emphasize personal responsibility, too. His approach is to step up and take his obligations to Earth stewardship literally and directly.
This card can inspire us to understand that we are each in charge of our own little kingdoms, and, like the vines and branches that cloak this King, we are also interconnected beyond our own immediate interests.
Our true wealth is the sacred web of life to which we all belong. Only when we honor, protect, and collaborate with the Earth Herself, can we hope to flourish.