It came to me in a dream…
I had a dream last night that involved the Five of Pentacles. Every once in a while this will happen: something from the “Esoteric Sciences” (Tarot, Runes, Astrology, Crystals, etc.) will make an unscheduled guest appearance in my dreams, and then I always place a lot of importance on this. After all, I can theorize about whether the dream was something welling up out of my own subconscious mind versus being information planted there by some external source, but I generally don’t know for sure. And either way, when something comes from a place outside of my own conscious, ego-mind, I tend to value it quite a bit.
So, the dream… It was a bit vague, and odd, as I was busy doing something in it — some manual task, like using a screwdriver or some such — but I awoke without much clear recollection of the details of what that task was. The point, though, is that I was focused on this task, but somewhere nearby, people were speaking about the Five of Pentacles. As you may or may not know, the Five of Pentacles is a card in a Tarot deck. Virtually all Tarot decks have a run of cards known as the Minor Arcana, which are very similar to a deck of regular playing cards — that is, the Minors are broken into four suits, and numbered Ace through Ten, plus there are several of what are called “Court Cards” in each suit (Queen, King, and depending on which deck you use, you’ll find cards called Princesses and Princes, or Pages and Knights, or yet other designations…). One of the four suits is called Pentacles in some decks, Disks in others, Coins in still more…but in my dream, the people discussing the card in question were very clearly using the Pentacles version, and while they didn’t say so specifically (which would have been like bad exposition in a movie or TV show…), I got the feeling that they were using the famed Rider-Waite-Smith (“RWS”) deck as their model of choice… Here’s the specific RWS Five of Pentacles, then, that featured in my dream, even if only verbally, and I didn’t actually see it while dreaming:
So what does this card mean…? Well, Pentacles have to do with the physical plane, and they address things like our bodies, our jobs, our finances, our homes and families, our daily routines. And then Fives often seem keyed in to a sort of tempering process, the sometimes severe testing of strength of one kind or another, the search for and removal of flaws, these kinds of things. Fives aren’t generally the sweetest, kindest, happiest cards in the deck, and the Five of Pentacles is no exception. When I was first learning the Tarot, I made up a sort of cheat sheet consisting of a few keywords for each card — these keywords captured for me the most primary, strongest meanings I consistently found in the cards myself, although I still kept that to within the field of meanings that were also generally accepted out there in the Tarot sphere. My earliest, most solid, most primary meaning for the Five of Pentacles was that it was about “Haves and Have-Nots.” As you can see, the card depicts a pair of ragged, snowbound paupers fighting to survive the winter night, even as they pass just below a lovely, opulent stained glass church window. Only a few feet separate the duo from the salvation of the warmth and wealth that might be found on the inside, but those few feet are composed of cold, unyielding stone…so what’s the pair to do…?
And I think general interpretations of the card do take such things into account, although you’ll find a somewhat broader band of meaning than just that, and my early definition was never intended to say that the person I was reading for was, in some way, one of those paupers, or destined to become one — even in my early days, I realized that the scene could be taken as something more figurative, or it could be that the person receiving the reading was actually being represented by the rich church, and not the poor people stumbling along outside. I realized that the card might at times be indicating a person was placing so much focus on the physical (and maybe, specifically, on the economic) that they were neglecting the spiritual…or maybe they were being, or were about to be, tested and tempered in some way…maybe they were being told to contemplate their own faith… Tarot cards are so fascinating in part because they have a spectrum of meanings, and they can even supply fresh, unexpected meanings within the context of a given reading, often depending on which other cards appear around them in that reading.
But so what happened in my dream, with respect to the Five of Pentacles…?
Well, in my dream, it seemed that a person within earshot of me was kind of lecturing one or more others about what the Five of Pentacles means. This person was holding forth with some apparent authority, and was basically stating that the Five of Pentacles always appears so as to represent the concept of someone reaping what they’ve sown, possibly for either good or ill…but especially in the more negative fashion of a wrongdoer receiving “a richly deserved comeuppance” — that’s exactly what this lecture-y person said in my dream to his audience (and it was a male, although I only heard him, without ever looking in his direction and seeing him).
“A richly deserved comeuppance.”
This is interesting to me, because it’s never occurred to me in all my time spent pondering the Five of Pentacles, that the card might be saying that the two suffering vagabonds in the scene somehow brought their cold, cruel fate down on their own heads via some past sin that we can’t see on the face of the card. And it never occurred to me that whoever might be on the other side of that stained glass window, luxuriating in warmth and comfort, might have slaved away with a pure heart, and might now simply be riding a wave of positive karma. I guess I’ve just never viewed the card as being such a direct statement on Divine or Cosmic judgment regarding a person’s good/evil works in life…but maybe that’s not such a horrible definition to consider, alongside all the others I mentioned above…? Sometimes we do reap what we sow, and we do have choices set before us every day along such lines: we can choose to follow high roads or low roads, and this often determines what we’ll meet in our travels later on down one of those roads.
So I can’t say that I’m hereby chucking all previous definitions of the Five of Pentacles out the window and just blindly adopting this one…but I will keep it at hand, and monitor its possible applications as I move forward. The fact that it came to me in a dream seems important to me, and the additional fact that the definition itself isn’t so horribly off the mark as to just be instantly, obviously dismissible seems equally worthy of note.
I’m doing a reading for someone later today — I’m really curious now to see if the Five of Pentacles shows up! If it does, my mind will remain open as to meaning…but I’ll have one more possible meaning to consider as I do my interpretation! It came to me in a dream…