The "Fives" of tarot have been on my mind a lot lately for some reason. A recent article is HERE. That post was over a month ago and ideas are still simmering.
As some of you know, I'm working on my first non-tarot book. It's about energy clearing and cultivation. While it is not about tarot and will not include tarot, I cannot deny that tarot is the lens through which I look at life, so it shapes my ideas about almost everything. And here, with you all, I can talk about things in tarot terms and we all have this great shared vocabulary that makes communication easier. Plus, this is a great space for me to explore ideas and hopefully hear some of yours, which you can share either in the comments or via email.
So let's talk about the 5 of Pentacles, taking a slightly different point of view.
Below are images from Llewellyn's Classic Tarot and the Steampunk Tarot.
The most common approach to this card is to say that it is material need of some sort and certainly the images in many decks support this interpretation. When we think about the number 5, we think chaos and disruption. Couple that energy with Pentacles, material resources, and it is an easy step to: physical want or deprivation. We can further say that part of the need is created by the neglect or misuse of resources of the spiritual institutions that are supposed to help people. This idea works well with many people's idea that the Hierophant represents all that is worst about organized religion. I think these ideas highlight a cultural bias that I didn't fully understand.
Because so many of us who have taken up the study of tarot have, in some way or another, been disappointed by the spiritual and religious paths that came to us through childhood, we very naturally take the view that all organized religion is, at worst, evil and destructive or, at best, benign traditions that fuel a consumer economy. Not all tarot readers feel this way, but plenty that I've met definitely do.
What happens when we examine that assumption, that shared bias? I touched on it a little in that previous article I mentioned (excerpt below), but I didn't go far enough.
"The 5 of Pentacles, with its very clear depiction of spiritual life (symbolized by the church window) and human suffering asks perhaps the hardest question. What is our relationship with the Divine when life is hard, when we or our loved ones are suffering, when terrible things happen to innocent people? How do we react when things that were good, maybe even great, turn to crap?"
If you are familiar with my work, you know that I do not accept that the only or even main meaning of the Hierophant is stagnant and awful organized religion or stifling systems. Instead, I believe that the Hierophant teaches us the importance of living our faith, walking our talk...in short manifesting our spiritual beliefs in a real way in the physical world. The Hierophant is, after all, associated with Taurus, which rules the second house and is associated with values, both material and spiritual. Fives are associated with the Pentacle, which is the physical world under the guidance of spirit.
The 5 of Pentacles seems like a good companion card for the Hierophant and shows a good lesson in what happens when you are not living your faith, when you do not walk your talk. As I continue thinking about energy clearing and cultivation, I realize that many people do not pay much attention to those activities unless something is very wrong. Their house feels "weird" or "off" so they use sage or salt or crystals to clear the energy. This certainly works, but it is also like going to the dentist for a filling when your tooth hurts rather than going twice a year for cleanings and brushing and flossing in between.
While my book will contain actions to take when things are in crisis, the bulk of it will focus on how to maintain a clear, calm, stable energetic foundation in ourselves and in our environments so that we can avoid crises. This allows us to be more responsive rather than simply reactive in our lives.
Along with tarot, another guiding idea in my life is the Hermetic principle "As above, so below." This ties in so nicely with the Hierophant and 5 of Pentacles. Instead of saying that we are in need and religion isn't helping us, we can flip that and say: when we forsake the small, daily practices of our spiritual beliefs, we find ourselves in need, both physically and spiritually. The more I pay attention to the energy in the world, the more I realize that everything physical is connected with spirit.
Please do not misunderstand. I do know that there are physical needs that are dire and immediate. It is really hard to care about spiritual things when you are starving or in danger (as Maslow's hierarchy teaches us). I am not talking about those situations. I am talking about our normal, daily lives.
And so, here is another way to look at the 5 of Pentacles...and a more empowering way. Instead of blaming some abstract formal religion (which we probably aren't in community with anyhow) for not helping us, we can own our responsibility for our individual spiritual practice. If we pay attention to the details in our lives and attend to things that need attending, it is a way of attending to both our spiritual and physical needs. Cleansing, healing energy flows. Stifling, sickening energy stagnates. As above, so below. Ergo, an organized and tidy place allows cleansing, healing energy to flow. That's true of our homes, our minds, our relationships, and our spirits. Something as simple as cleaning your bathroom regularly can be a metaphor for seeing yourself clearly. It's all connected. When we let things slide, we lose things, we feel more frantic, we are less efficient, and then things snowball until we are in that common quality we love to ascribe the 5s: chaos.
As you know, I'm a podcast lover, so every once in a while instead of just listening, I actually talk on one.
Recently, Brigit from Biddy Tarot invited me on her show, and we had such a great conversation. As she describes it:
At a high level, this episode is about how to make Tarot easy. But at a deeper level, it’s about how to connect with Tarot in your own unique way. Barbara walks us through connecting to the Tarot to through your own personal belief system, to being part of the evolution of global consciousness, and so much more. Join me and the Tarot Shaman as we travel through mystic realms to bring you wisdom and guidance.
In this episode, you’ll learn…
You can view it on iTunes here and also on the Biddy Tarot Blog. Click here to access the blog post.
May words of wisdom drift to you on the wind
May you breathe them in deeply
May they encourage and guide you
And may your words encourage and guide
your fellow travelers as we all walk
each other home.