A Queen Of Pentacles Story

Queen of pentacles, Rider Waite Tarot
Sometimes I use stories I have heard or things that I have experienced to illustrate something about a card or a symbol. I was talking about the Queen of Pentacles the other day and I remembered a story about a friend’s grandmother that fit perfectly with the idea of resourcefulness and values – based thinking that this card can represent.

My friend’s Grandmother, or Nana as they called her, married very young, probably in her mid to later teens and in the time just following the great depression (the late 1930s). Her husband was a mechanic in a little garage and very traditional in the idea that he was the breadwinner, he didn’t want his wife to work.

Nana was very resourceful, she made her own clothes as well as drapes and curtains. She was a tremendous cook and soon her neighbors were asking her to do some baking for them. She happily obliged as well as making drapes. When her husband came home for lunch, she had to whisk everything out of sight, under the bed or into the closet went the drapes.

Every Friday, she would sit down with her husband after supper and he would give her his pay envelope and she would do her accounts. After the bills were paid, she gave him back the rest of the money (because the man handled the money) and she would keep everything that was a five dollar bill or less. He thought she used that for “pin money”.

One particular Friday, shortly after their first child was in school, probably about 6 or 7 years into wedded bliss, she told him that she had something to show him and he’d better sit down. He refused and asked “what have you done now”? She pulled out a bank book and said “you can buy the garage”. Needless to say he fainted, (he shoulda sat down). One wonders what this woman, with a limited education and the restrictions of her time could have done with a lot of the advantages we take for granted nowadays.

Three Of Pentacles

I was talking with my friend Charley (Foxtower Photography – check him out, if you haven’t already) a while ago about experiences around the Three of Pentacles. This is interesting as the Three of Pentacles itself is about sharing experience!

As I have mentioned before, I often study the relationship of numbers as well as elements. I look at what the threes all have in common. I also look at what “threeness” means to me (this is covered very nicely as a concept in Gail Fairfield’s book “Choice Centered Tarot”, it’s in the “books on Tarot” link, under “Useful Resources” on the left of this page).

Threes overall to me are the first evidence of a pattern. I refer often to folk tales and the stories we hear as children, as these are an indicator of our patterns of awareness that are passed along. Often in a story we are given three examples, three lessons or, as in baseball, three strikes and your out! Threes are where we see connections and associations. These patterns continue and are arrived at again in the sixes ( a second cycle of three) and visited again in a very powerful, often imprinting way in the nines (the third three cycle).

The three of Pentacles is fascinating in how a concept is illustrated in more than one way. I often associate Pentacles with the inner business of ownership and accountability. The most mundane aspect is our material possessions and resources, but inwardly it is what has worth to us, what we truly “own”.

This card shows three figures, a monk, an artisan and a merchant (his robe is an indication of his class). Each has his own sense of ownership in the work going on. For the Merchant, it may be his financial contribution, the limits of what he can spend or the recognition he may want in contributing. For the monk the building represents a physical manifestation of his faith and also the place he would be working in on a day to day basis. The artisan, is concerned with his own take on the process, perhaps the resources he has to work with.

In order for the work to go on, each of these elements has to have a point of agreeing. None can tell the other how to do his job exactly but they can have a common ground. This may be challenging, what looks good on paper (the blue print they are holding) may be more than they thought in the actual carrying out of the task, but if they can remain centred they each will grow from the experience and that’s part of the inner building that goes on.

All of this is illustrated again in the structure itself. Notice the three concentric rings that have the pentacles themselves in them. They are within what looks like a delicate arch, but is in fact holding up a great deal of weight. they don’t intrude on one another, if they did the structure would collapse, but they do have a tiny ring in the centre of them. This is the unifying concept that holds it all together.

In a reading this card can be an indicator of interactive work, sometimes a job that opens up new experience, or a ground floor opportunity that allows someone to share in an entirely new way. We can’t get too “uppity” in our experience, an artisan can’t tell a monk how to do his job. There has to be mutual respect of differing ideals but common principles. I always like to remember that one of the first words they teach kids in school or on Sesame Street is CO-OPERATE!

I’ve noticed some of my greatest growth experiences aren’t necessarily where Ive been with people who entirely agree with my ideas or my take on things, but rather in a spirit of fellowship, different perspectives come together around a concept. There is a Fraternal or brotherly feeling to this card, (this is interesting as there is a Sororal or sisterly energy to the Three of Cups, which I will talk about anon). I often find this energy around collaborations, say a group getting together to work on a community concept. Someone has a vision, someone has a practical outlook and someone has some experience with the carrying out of things. Maybe it’s like some charitable stuff I’ve been involved in where someone wants to do some work to serve a need, someone has connections and someone just wants to write off a surplus they have. If these things can come together, not necessarily in complete agreement but in a tenuous vision, then we have something to work with.

This is a lot like how some systems of government have to work. Here in Canada we have a parliamentary system where different parties have to have a majority on an issue in order to get things done, or work issue by issue to work out agreements.

Maybe it’s unintentionally timely that I am posting this on the eve of Britain’s elections where their  parties are in a precarious balance. What we call in Canada a “minority government”,  they call a “hung parliament” as the winning party does not have Carte Blanche to do what it pleases, but rather must work out and negotiate on an issue by issue basis.

Let’s hope that they, like the rings on the card I am talking about, can remember how much rests on their agreement.

Discerning True Worth

Our true worth is not measured comparatively. It is not found in being more than some things or less than others. It stands in it’s own right and is self evident. It is often in the areas of our struggles, not in the things that come most easily that it is revealed.

Anyone who has had a little kid make them a card or a picture and you can tell that they worked at it lovingly, knows this. As an uncle (officially and unofficially), I’ve had some stuff on my fridge from nieces and nephews that I have treasured. I didn’t look at it and say “oh the depth perception is all wrong, what kind of nonsense is this”? I don’t think anyone with a heart would de-value something like that, and yet how often are we self discouraging. Thoughts like “oh I could never be any good at that” or “So and so is much better at this sort of thing than I” often sideline our creativity, or in some instances our opportunities for growth or being a voice to what we see as need.

There is a great difference between judging and discerning. I like to think of it like what you see in an Olympic sport, like figure skating. When we watch a figure skater we sometimes see in the corner of the screen the skater’s coach and occasionally we see the judges, but the judges don’t hold up numbers while the skater is skating. They wait till the skater is done. The judges are only involved in that one limited event, while the coach will probably be working with that skater further along, whether they win or lose that day they will be back at practice and back in training and needing constructive feedback.

In our own work, we occasionally have to judge our actions in particular situations. Maybe we blow up at a colleague or we gain a satisfying victory in a challenge. These moments of downfall or attainment are important but tomorrow is another day. We take from these experiences the business of discernment, to learn and keep doing, to not throw in the towel and to look at our progress. I have had to learn to be more of a discerning coach with myself and less of a cranky judge.

I can remember a time where someone suggested I take a class in something I wasn’t good at, something where I maybe wouldn’t necessarily ever be good at it but to learn anyway. I ended up taking pottery. It was a lot of fun. The stuff I made was pretty lopsided and much of it I couldn’t even pass off as a paper weight, but it gave me a pretty good appreciation of what goes into making a beautiful bowl or a good hand crafted mug. I learned about different kinds of glazes and what makes somethings work and some things not. I can see and appreciate the craftsmanship. About a year later, by coincidence I dated a very nice person who happened to be a potter. One day when I was visiting, I saw some (what I thought) beautiful bowls by his back door, when I commented on one, I was told; “oh they’re mistakes, that one has a crack near the lip, I’m throwing them away”. I asked him for that bowl and I’m glad I did, I still treasure it. In a funny way it ended up representing the relationship. We’re still friendly despite a crack or two, and there’s somethings, like that friendship, worth keeping.

Our own inner worth works like that. The feelings of debt, the feelings of owing or in many instances the need to pay things forward that have been given to me, are all powerful motivators. Sure I love to share what I’m good at, but I have also learned to welcome the opportunities to do things where I’m not and to appreciate better in others the things they share. At the same time, my values sometimes show me situations and relationships that don’t always balance. Sometimes it is important to leave things and people that are not compatible with our growth, but these experiences as teachers also have their worth.

In Tarot the suit of Pentacles refers a great deal to our material security, our possessions and our financial affairs. Issues of profit and loss. On an inner level I have found that it refers to our natural values. When we pay attention to these things, like a gardener pays attention to the values of a plant, we see what makes things grow in ourselves and in our affairs and alternately what makes us wither. When our values are properly aligned, when we are “in our element”, we see results and there is progress, a positive payoff. When we aren’t aligned, when we are out of touch with those values it really doesn’t matter what we gain or not, we aren’t satisfied.Sometimes we get hooked into the negative payoff.  Discernment  helps me to find what I need to move forward, what I can let go of and where I need to be to offer best what I can.

Six Of Pentacles


If you continually go above and beyond the call of duty, often exceeding expectations, the day you stop, the people you have enabled will feel let down because you’ve spoiled them. Communicating limits and expectations is important. Giving your all doesn’t mean depleting or damaging yourself. Don’t be a martyr about it, they make horrid role models.

Often we just need a chance to stand back. The bumps we encounter usually serve to show us the (often hidden) motives we have had in giving. Once we’ve had a chance to see these things we can give our head a shake and carry on, most of us go on giving, but in healthier measure and with better, clearer motivation. I don’t know anyone who has truly learned this easily.

King Of Pentacles Reversed

One of the things that Tarot can help us identify is where our strengths are working, where they may be blocked or, often with the best intentions, are being misused. This is often shown in the reversal of an element. I should stress from the start that I am not necessarily just referring to a card being upside down. Reversals of cards are not as simple as the opposite meaning of it right way up. I should also mention that I don’t always pay attention to a physical reversal, it can sometimes be more the muting of the card’s potential (a little like the two pedals on a piano, sustain and mute). This is where the “reading” of the cards is different from simply memorizing what a book says they mean. The messages of a card have a consistency but the inflection changes everything. Sometimes a reversal may be indicating a potential not yet realized or working on a more unconscious level. This can be a warning depending on what is present in the bigger picture.

When other people are described in a reading (through the court cards), I try to remember that it is not an absolute definition of the person. It is the aspects of that person in relation to the person being read. We might have a difficult conflict with someone who may or may not have those difficulties with others. This is where I always have to remember that a reading is subjective and also that the main focus has to be in identifying what the client can work with. If the other signals (both the cards as well as what I am receiving intuitively) indicate problems resting with someone else, we can only go so far in terms of identifying that other person’s stuff. We cant drink medicine and make someone else get well. A very big part of what a reading SHOULD do is show us where our own elements are on track and where they are not.



It is also often, (but not always), the case that when a quality in someone else rankles us, it can be a good opportunity to look at something in our own character that is being triggered. When someone sticks their big oar in our plans, when someone has the audacity to ask “just who do you think you are”, these are opportunities to see where our gifts or strengths might be getting the better of us. Same goes with those times when we find ourselves saying ” I try and try and I keep getting the same result”. These are the moments where we can wake up and recognize we are sometimes in that reversal ourselves. Usually something our ego thinks is terribly necessary needs to be let go of. We need to pause and see where we may be running up the down escalator.

One of the very big signs that an element is reversed is the lack of satisfaction. There is never enough. Classic examples of this are when our compassion becomes tragic martyrdom, constructiveness becomes negative competitiveness, protection becomes domineering tyranny and our values become manipulative greed. However people are rarely as simple as comic characters. What we often view as heroes or villains are usually people with mixed qualities (and motives). There are truly very few absolute “good guys” and “bad guys” out there.

Most recently the situation of Conrad Black could be easily described as King Of Pentacles reversed. This is someone who obviously has had an enormous amount of talent and charisma to have accomplished so much, but there aren’t many who have sympathy for this guy right now.

In the instances of dealing with other people’s reversals, we can learn from their mistakes, not play into their game and sometimes ask the question; “what is it I need to recognize and learn from this”? We can’t always choose what life puts on our path, but a reading can show us what kind of place we are giving these things in our consciousness, what we are giving up our own worth to and where we often have the choice to engage or detach  and move on.