Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Tarot: Six of Pentacles
The books are perhaps the least useful means of understanding this card. Most of them pick up on the obvious scene in the RWS deck, and give the meaning as something along the lines of prosperity, abundance, and giving or receiving money. They usually also comment on the fact that this card comes fast on the heels of the 'lack of means' (which you will feel free to interpret as you will) depicted in the 5 of Pentacles, and being followed by the learning, productivity, and hard work depicted in the 7 of Pentacles.
Easy, then. But of course not for me. This card actually makes me intensely uncomfortable and it's only now that I've really got to grips with why. For a start I instinctively dislike the man giving money to the two beggars, because of the very obvious power imbalance depicted here. He has surplus to give away and can make that judgement call, and they don't have anything so are forced to beg. If you place that power imbalance at the heart of this card's meaning rather than an unexamined and unquestioned prosperity, this card leaves a much more distasteful aftertaste.
There is a further uncomfortable message buried in this card. If you treat the RWS cards as a progression through the pip cards, the suggestion is that two people in the same position as the disenfranchised people in the 5 of Pentacles have been lucky enough to find a benefactor. The implication is patriarchal and suggestive of a power imbalance which is not likely to be changing any time soon. The 5 and the 6 both present a picture of comfort and lack, of being inside and outside, and I suppose this is the one which suggests the querent is in and has means. That these means are being given away suggests this card presents the querent with a challenge actually to question his own comfort and whether this leaves others outside.
That there is a decision to be made is implied by the scales shown by the man with the money. For some bizarre reason I don't remember ever noticing those scales until I pulled this card for today, last night. I have read a number of different interpretations of those scales on the internet, one of which is that the fact that the sides of the scales are even imply that society is, or ought to be, equal, and thus reinforces my impression that this card is one implying that the querent should review his position in the area of money and see whether it is satisfactory.
If I'm honest I prefer the depiction of this card in the Aquarian tarot (Morgan-Greer, which otherwise follows Aquarian quite closely, here departs and in closer to RWS), which gets rid of the two beggars completely and just has the man with the six coins and the scales. The fact that the beggars are absent could therefore indicate that this is a card of audit in the area of material things, in a broaders sense than merely social justice. In fact the first thought which struck me about the Aquarian depiction of this card was that it could be called the Accountant card!
As I often do, I drew some more cards to clarify the meaning of the card for me personally. In this case I drew two cards to represent the sides of the scales, and thus the specific things I have to balance, audit, consider, etc. I got the King of Pentacles and the Star, both of which initially struck me as making no sense at all. However when I considered them, unusually I could see myself in the King of Pentacles. In my present situation he represents the way in which I have unjobbed myself from my previous unsatisfactory employers (by my taking control of the situation rather than just continuing to go along with it), and the Star represents my cutting myself loose and just seeing what comes next. What I therefore need to audit are my authority and control, with going out into the metaphorical wilderness and putting a foot into the metaphorical water I find there.
Once again, examining my reaction to a personally difficult tarot card has both clarified my own instinctive reaction to the card and revealed a hidden level of meaning for me.
Image credit: https://iambirmingham.co.uk/2015/03/05/birmingham-man-feeds-homeless-as-spider-man/