I am plagued. Have an old-school video.
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.
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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!
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: