And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Not since American Independence Day, 2017 has this been my website’s Card of the Week. And then, as now, this exceptional appearance arrives during a Full Moon. Let us welcome for only the fourth time in the sixteen years of my weekly pulls the Ten of Pentacles.
As I am currently traveling home from a magical workshop with my beloved teachers RJ Stewart and Anastacia Nutt, I am abbreviating this post somewhat. For a more in-depth perspective, you are welcome to read the post I wrote at that time by going here.
I find it fascinating that this very magical card is so rarely seen. Tarot creator, scholar, and teacher Rachel Pollack notes that this is one of the “Gateway” cards, which is certainly appropriate for this time of year.
The archway in it is literally a gate. Despite the superficial ordinariness of the scene, though, this is a multi-layered card full of magic. It points to the fact that in the mundane lies the most mysterious. For as above, so below.
This is a card of wonders hidden in plain sight. Notice the placement of the ten coins – they form the Qabalistic Tree of Life, a symbol shown nowhere else in the Tarot (although, as we have seen many times, it is partially revealed in the Five of Pentacles).
In the archway there is a magic wand – the only time one appears in the Minor Arcana. And not in the suit of Wands, mind you, but Pentacles.
The old man’s multicolored cloak is comprised of astrological and ritual magic symbols. Above his head, on the arch column, we see a set of scales in balance, pointing to Justice, and the settling of spiritual debt.
Is this a mystic traveler, a disguised mage, or the patriarch of the family behind him? Interpretations vary widely.
I am especially fond of Rachel’s suggestion that he may be the ancient Greek hero, Odysseus, home from the wars, and only his dog Argos recognizes him.
Speaking of the dogs, the old man and the child connect, yet do not actually touch, through their love of the two dogs. It is no accident that dogs are featured in The Fool and The Moon.
And by the way, is the couple happy, or are they turned away from one another?
Furthermore, is the dark castle behind the old man simply a tapestry hanging on the wall, or is it actually another doorway that exists in counterpoint to the seemingly more “real” marketplace under the blue skies through the archway to the right?
The Tens are the culmination of each suit in the Tarot, the ultimate — plus some — of the energy of their element. With Pentacles being about money, physicality, health and security, this Ten is certainly a card of satisfaction and enjoying the fruits of one’s labors. Again, excellent timing, as the season of celebration, hospitality, and generosity ramps up.
Yet the esoteric elements of this card remind us that our ultimate wealth is not financial security or success in the marketplace. Our real treasure lies in our everyday life and the fact that within the most ordinary daily routines, there are potentials of hidden complexity and power.
The Turning of the Year
This card signals that we are very much in a Gateway between past and future. In just couple of weeks, another decade of this not-quite-as-new millennium will begin, and the old one will pass away forever.
And the deepening final descent into darkness that seems about to engulf us completely and permanently parts for the Gemini Moon, and points to the sacred birth coming next week at Solstice.
The veil between the worlds is very thin. In countless cultures around the world, and throughout history, this is a threshold that connects the realms of the living and the Ancestors.
One day, we will be the old one who sits outside the gate. How do we want our descendants to remember us? What will be our legacy, and to whom will it be given?
For the greatest wealth is to have lived our lives so that, at the end of our days, we have enriched others, and we are comfortable in our cloak of Mystery. For only then, shall we recognize home.