Pentacles: Seven Through Nine

Drunk Izzy Explains the Tarot continues, with the Seven of Pentacles: someone growing pentacles, either on a tree or a bush, and harvesting them. In addition to the mnemonic “good luck with earth things” meaning, the Seven means hard work rewarded, fruitful harvest, and all the parts of the Little House books where the crops don’t get destroyed by hail and grasshoppers. Material success and corn for everyone!

Another possible meaning here is the fruits of past actions, for good or ill: the old saying about reaping what you sow. If you planted peaches, you are going to get peaches. That’s how this works. Extend metaphor appropriately.

So okay. I’m not sure how much this will hold true with the other suits, but so far, after the Ace, we have people doing things to pentacles: juggling them, making them, hoarding them, giving/taking/trading them, growing them, and now making them again, but more so: the Eight of Pentacles shows another person making pentacles, but this one is a youth working alone.

This is a card about the journey from apprenticeship to mastery. In the mnemonic system, it’s a challenge regarding things of the earth, one that you can absolutely master if you want–if the three is “more Pentacle Stuff,” this is “new and harder Pentacle Stuff.” It also has overtones of going it alone for the first time, applying the learning that you might have gotten from all the cards between three and eight, and hard work. This task ahead of you is going to take all your skills, but if you do it right, you and other people will be totally sure of those skills.

Nine of Pentacles builds on that sureness in both good and bad ways. The central figure here isn’t doing anything to the pentacles any more–not even looking at them. They’re in a garden around the person (there’s pretty much always just the one person), who is, in turn, looking at an animal–often a bird, sometimes a cat, a tiger in one deck because fuck it tigers are great–or out at the reader.

The nine is what happens when you’re so good at a thing that it becomes just another part of your world. That can be great, especially where things of the earth are concerned: nobody’s going to argue that not having to worry about where your next meal’s coming from, or how long you can pay the rent, are bad things. (Well, nobody who isn’t an asshole.) Having enough sex, health, money, and so forth are terrific.

That said, the nine is also a reminder not to take these things for granted, and not to let them become a prison. In some ways, it’s a minor and more pleasant version of the Devil: there’s usually no path forward, and often hedges or closed gates appear. Don’t cling so tightly to what you have that you forget what you want, or what other people don’t have; conversely, don’t take what you have so much for granted that you forget how fortunate you are to have it.

The animal can be a reminded of the wilderness, but to me it always seems more like a reminder that there’s a bigger world out there–you may have to, or choose to, stay in this garden, but that doesn’t make everything else disappear.

Mnemonically, the nine of pentacles means that you have plenty of earth stuff, but that’s not enough. Either it’s the wrong type for you, or you need just a little more, or some other element is necessary to get where you want to go–or, in a more positive spin, you have plenty of earth stuff, but that’s not what your life is all about.

I have books! They appear on Amazon, B&N, the Sourcebooks site, Powell’s, and possibly elsewhere. Most of them have sex; most of them have dragons; pretty much all of them have occult weirdness of one sort or another. If you like that sort of thing, they might be the sort of thing you like.

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Pentacles? Pentacles!

Back! I have LARPed, and cleaned, and may have some news shortly–watch this space!

Also, buy my books, if you like what I’m writing and want to read some fiction with dragons and sex! Available at Amazon, Powell’s, B&N, and the Sourcebooks website.

Now, on to Tarot things.


The Four! A dude clutching and/or sitting on four pentacles and giving you, the reader, a death glare. These are his pentacles. Do not fuck with his pentacles. He will cut you.

Unsurprisingly, this card means avarice, greed, miserliness, and suspicion. Dude is one guy. He has four pentacles, which is probably, in-universe, more pentacles than he needs or can use. Certainly he’s not actually using any of them, whatever pentacles are used for: he’s not working on them or juggling them or putting them into things or doing any of the other Happy Pentacle Stuff you see on happier cards. He’s clutching one and stepping on two and sometimes he has a pentacle on his head. Do you need a pentacle on your head? I don’t think you do.

Fours are stasis, and pentacles are material things, and all of this is theoretically fine except when you hold onto that stasis too hard and start wigging out about it being threatened, in which case you become Paul Ryan. Don’t become Paul Ryan. You can still be stable and let go of things.

The Five: This is kind of the flip side of the four.  Two destitute-looking people trek through the snow in front of a lit window (often a church) that shows five pentacles, and it is all very Hans Christen Andersen. Fives are generally dark luck, and this one is literally being out in the cold: poverty, sickness, loneliness, and so on. Where the four is one guy with too many pentacles, the five is two people with none, while somewhere else has a bunch of them. Comparisons to various economic and political realities are not unwarranted.

The deal with fives and sevens is that there’s really no dark luck without potential hope or bright luck without a potential negative aspect, given the situation. In this case, the building with the five pentacles in it may mean that help is available if you look for it, or ask for it–the pentacles in the window may be advertising shelter rather than gloating about how much the people inside have. Just like the miser in the Four, the beggars in the Five may also need to be aware of other people as the potential solution to their problems.

The Six: And here’s the balance! A guy is handing out pentacles. It’s hard to say whether he’s giving them away as charity or as gifts, or if this is some kind of trade and he’s keeping the pentacle-based economy lively, but he’s not keeping his pentacles to himself. Which sounds dirty now. Nonetheless.

Sixes generally indicate a quest for more of the element. In this case, the way to get more pentacles, and thus more Earth stuff, is to be willing to give them away.  There’s a tie here to the old Norse idea of royalty as gift-givers, and noblesse oblige in general; you can also see it as the process of planting seeds, where you have to trust the earth with what you’ve got so that you can get more; and I suppose you can see it as tied to neoliberal capitalism if that’s the sort of thing you’re into.

Next time: Seven through Nine!


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Continues to be going on! So Drunk Tarot next week, I promise. Meanwhile, here is a clip of Stephen Colbert being awesome and also geeking out hardcore about LotR:

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Not Tarot, Directly

Because I am LARPing this weekend. Instead, have a short story-ish-thing that I wrote some years back, when I did a bunch of microfiction based on Tarot cards or runes. This one is about the Four of Pentacles: stasis or stability in material things, caution, security.

Continue reading

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More Tarot!

This is wicked late, and also on a Thursday, for reasons that involve me being distracted by Los Angeles and then stranded in WA–in a very pleasant location to be stranded, with very pleasant company, but still–and generally consumed with other stuff, some of which will be revealed in time. (Hard to reveal things out of time, to be fair.)

So here we are at the Ace of Pentacles, which is, well, a pentacle. Traditionally, a disembodied hand is coming out of a cloud offering said pentacle to all and sundry. Why? How? It’s just the sort of thing that happens. Disembodied Cloud Hand is a classic on all the aces; it’s one of the great unrecognized protagonists of our time, and someday I will write a three-book series about it.

The Ace of Pentacles, by the mnemonic system I mentioned before, is new beginnings in things of Earth, and in most by-the-book systems is similar: new opportunity, prosperity, manifestation. You might get a new job, move to a new and better house, meet someone hot or start sleeping with someone you already knew and found hot, buy a boat, etc. It’s generally a positive card, but it’s not the World or the Ten: it’s the start, but not the fulfillment.

On the other hand, the Aces and Tens have a thing where they replicate the Fool-World cycle on a smaller and more specific scale. So while the Ace is the start, it also contains everything after it–the seed, appropriately for this suit, that has all the genetic information it needs to become a tree. Whatever this new thing is, it absolutely has the potential to take you as far as you want to go where that aspect of Pentacles is concerned.

Two of Pentacles is some variety of dude, juggling two pentacles, usually inside an infinity sign, and no, these cards do not ever get measurably less trippy. Often juggler dude is standing on a seashore with one foot raised; one deck has him on a tightrope. As you might guess if you’ve been reading this blog or know, like, slightly more Jung than Dan Brown assumes*, these represent balance: elemental balance in the first case, not falling off a fucking tightrope in the second.

And yeah: balance in things of earth is the deal here. If this card comes up in a reading, you’ve got a lot going on, but you’re making it work, to fall completely into 2008 and the heyday of Tim Gunn. That or you’re going to have a lot going on and you’ll need to make sure you’ve got all your ducks in a row–and that you can keep them in that row, adapting on the fly when you need to schedule two dates in the same week or have a sudden deadline-intensive-but-rewarding project to rock at work.

When there’s balance, of course, there’s also the potential for growth, which is where the next card happens.

Three of Pentacles.

As I mentioned last time, all threes are about real growth in an area, so I’m just gonna put this link here. Symbolically speaking, when a man with a giant chin and a woman with the most seventies hair possible love each other very much, balance leads to growth. I have no idea what the football players mean in any occult sense, though, nor the very distressed octopus.

The Three of Pentacles shows one or more people working on pentacles. Because those things don’t just grow on trees. Except for the cards where they do.

More specifically, the meaning of this particular three is teamwork, success, satisfaction, or mastery. (Although so does working alone, and you don’t have to kick anyone out of bed in the morning.) (I’ll be here all night. Enjoy the veal.) To get things done in the material world (materia-aal), it often helps to work with other people; conversely, if you’re kicking ass and taking names, you’re probably going to draw other people to you.  That’s why you get followers at Level 9.

I’m gonna try to go back to a regular weekday schedule on this. Next week I have a LARP, though, so you might get a story instead. Meanwhile, all my books are available on Amazon, and all but the self-published ones are also at Borders, at Powell’s (which is awesome–I went to the physical store when I was in WA, and bought far more than I actually needed), and on the Sourcebooks website.

*I had been under the impression that cup=vagina is, like, the first day of Symbolism for Stoned Freshmen, but apparently you can buy yourself a fucking yacht presenting a fictional world in which this is a goddamn shocking revelation to all of your otherwise-educated characters.

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Book Tour and Stuff

Hey, everyone!

This week I’m away from the office and also my normal amount of drink, so Tarot will continue next week. (I’ll be in California, with my family, and thus probably drinking a lot. I do not rule out the possibility that my interpretation of one or more cards will either be I LOVE YOU MAAAAAN or DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR PORBLEM IS I’LL TELL YOU WHAT YOUR PROBLEM IS, ACE OF PENTACLES.)

Meanwhile, the third of the medieval Highland Dragons books, Highland Dragon Master, is out 3/5–and has been named an Amazon Best Book of the Month in Romance!

You can find an excerpt on USA Today’s Happily Ever After, here:

Have a good weekend!



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Hey so I’m back!

Having gone through the Major Arcana, we’re moving on to the Minor. These are the ones that, if you take out either the Knight or the Page from each suit, correspond basically to playing cards. Swords are spades, to reverse the Sting lyrics; wands are clubs; cups are hearts; and diamonds are pentacles.

Now, with the Minor Arcana, I learned a good general-and-easily-remembered interpretation that applies to all suits. I’ll be going through the cards in more individual detail, but this is a good baseline to keep in mind. Each card number has a more or less similar meaning across all the suits, but interpreted in the light of what a particular suit is about.

One: The beginning, new beginnings, breaking ground.
Two: Balance and harmony, the potential for new growth.
Three: Actual growth and progression.
Four: Stasis, rest, stillness, stability.
Five: Dark luck–luck that at least looks bad on the surface, though it may be for the best.
Six: A quest or search.
Seven: Bright luck: things are looking good, though it might, as the fish dude says, be a trap.
Eight: A challenge–but unlike the Hanged Man, this is one you can handle. If the Hanged Man is the final fight with the leg sweeping and so forth (hey actually the position corresponds decently to that–holy shit, could I do a paper on the mystical/Tarot symbolism of The Karate Kid? I think I could. Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be English majors…) then your Eights are the training montage where you keep getting your ass kicked until you can do push-ups on hot coals, to unrepentently mix my martial arts movie analogies.
Nine: A whole lot of whatever this is, but either it’s not enough or that’s not all there is to the situation.
Ten: ALL OF THE THING. ALLLLL OF IT. For good or bad. The tendency in Tarot is for this to be really good in cups and pentacles, really bad in swords, and neutralish in wands. I can and will come up with a few theories when we get to specific cards, but I welcome others because I really don’t know.

Like the correspondence suggests, pentacles are to some degree about wealth. More generally, they’re about earth stuff: money, stability, sex, health, food. If it is or directly affects your physical body, pentacles is the suit you’re going for. The upsides of pentacles, or of people it describes, tend to be the expected sensual or physical things, plus being “down to earth,” all practical and level-headed. I wouldn’t say that they balance their checkbooks easily, because first of all that’s more an air/swords thing and second it’s 2017 and like five people use checkbooks, but they’re unlikely to splurge on designer shoes or big-screen TVs unless they know they can afford and will use them, say.

The flaws inherent in pentacles are stubbornness, laziness, and a tendency to concentrate on or overindulge in material things. Four of the seven “deadly sins” are pentacle traits, for reasons to do with Christian neoPlatonic weirdness. (Wrath is probably wands, albeit it makes sense as swords too–and there’s a whole occult controversy out there about whether swords are fire or air, so–and I’d stick Envy in cups and Pride in swords.)

(Pride in Swords sounds like a Japanese fighting game.)

In Tarot that’s less pure elemental and more specific, like the Rider-Waite interpretations, Pentacles is one of the “happier” suits: fewer of its cards mean dire shit, and the ones that do indicate challenges, like the eight, generally show up as “a complicated task lies ahead” rather than “holy shit, conflict and heartbreak and entrapment.”

Next time, we’ll get into some of the specifics, and I might actually make myself a for-real cocktail rather than straight-up pouring butterscotch schnapps into tea. We’ll see!

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