Having had so much fun investigating the ten of swords, I decided I would start investigating the wheel of fortune, what with it being a ten card. I approached Oephebia about it and she said it had already been taken for this year but that the ten of pentacles and ten of wands were both available if I wanted to take on a second card. I most definitely did and I picked up a deck and flicked through until I found the ten of wands or pentacles, whichever came first was going to steer my choice. Ten of pentacles it is!
Left to right: Wild Unknown, Pagan Cats, Lumina
The pentacles and the element earth with which they are associated are about worldly things, things you can own or touch. This extends to your body and your health but also includes home, money, career, resources and a practical, pragmatic approach to life. It is a grounded energy that tends to the aspects of daily life such as health maintenance and food. This suit embodies the idea that a flourishing outer world extends from a flourishing inner world. Putting on your own oxygen mask in on a plane before helping others is a high expression of pentacle energy. This is helping and being generous with yourself but tending to self first in order to do this. However, greed and possessiveness are a lower expression.
With the pentacles there is also the practical realisation of dreams, the work that you put in to get what you want. It is about manifestation and productivity.
As we saw with the ten of swords, the tens are about endings and beginnings, the natural conclusion of the suit.
I find it interesting to look to the five of a suit, a half way point on the longer journey. With pentacles, the five is about struggle, scarcity and not seeing what you have. We work through this, we open our eyes to our abundance and we put in the work we need to build a solid foundation, to build the life we want. There is a weariness to the five of pentacles and we might want to give up and give in but the light in the darkness is the wealth that comes with the ten. Keep going even if you feel like you can’t. There are times to quit and times to power through, this could well be the latter.
Another ten to consider is the ten from the Major Arcana, that is the Wheel of Fortune, another card about starting again, about turning the wheel, about moving forward. As I’ve said already, I’ll probably be doing a post about the Wheel of Fortune at some point so we might find a bit more light shed on the ten cards then.
Rider Waite Smith
In the RWS ten of pentacles, the foreground pictures and older man feeding or playing with two dogs, two adults in conversation with a small child pulling at the robe of one of the adults. We seem to be in a market place or a town. The scene is taking place in front of an arch, behind which are a range of buildings. Ten pentacles are superimposed over the top in a symmetrical pattern.
Key words include affluence, permanence and convention and a traditional interpretation tends to view it as physical wealth, business success and maintaining this status quo. The Thoth tarot calls this the wealth card.
There is an air of prosperity in the village or town, not just in the people featured, which suggests a generosity, a sharing of wealth. This is echoed somewhat in the old man who seems to be well off and I feel has been drawn with respect, this suggests a valuing of knowledge and experience, not just money.
I like Carrie Mallon’s observation that the card illustrates a passing down of security from generation to generation. This could be in the form of physical or financial inheritance but it might also be in terms of wisdom. Or perhaps the card could be asking us to turn to our elders in our quest to build stability and create abundance in our lives.
Tarot of Pagan Cats
The tarot of the pagan cats echoes this with a large cat – a fat cat if you will – laying in an opulent courtyard, a smaller cat at its feel and a couple of cats – one black, one white – interacting in the background. The pentacles in this case are ten different symbols over the archway.
The LWB tells us this card means a stable and abundant life. The description suggests less of the financial wealth of the RWS card and a more holistic idea of wealth. Does anyone know what the symbols over the archway mean? I know that left to right, the first four are earth, air, fire and water, possibly the fifth is the sun and the next three could be moon cycles but I’m really not sure… If this is the case, it feels like we are being given all the aspects of life that we need – the magic of the different moon phases, all the elements and the power of the sun. There is nothing more we need, we have security and the knowledge that we are safe and secure in what we have.
The Wild Unknown
The Wild Unknown has a circular rainbow with 9 large pentacles and one small pentacle right inside the central pentacle. I like this, I like that you have to work a little bit to see all that you have. This for me feels like a better angle for reading the card, one more fitting for this deck. Pay attention to the details around you, don’t take things for granted.
As with most of the cards, I find the wild unknown take much more inspiring. We are surrounded by abundance – the colours of the rainbow could perhaps be the equivalent of the symbols on the pagan cats – but no one is dictating what the aspects of abundance are. For some people, to be surrounded by family might feel like contentment, for others it might be having the luxury of time alone. And the need to look closer to see all you have really speaks to me.
I enjoy Carrie Mallon’s interpretations of the wild unknown cards and the words she has chosen for the ten of pentacles are stability and establishment. Having spent the previous nine cards of the suit creating and achieving what you need, you can now pause. You have established the life you want to live and have the things which make you content, you have created a solid foundation. Note, this doesn’t mean you see them or feel them, you may need to stop and look instead of always future gazing.
Unlike in the ten of swords, this is a time to embrace the status quo, this is not a time for rushing forward and moving on. Pause. Enjoy.
I love the image on this card! It has a bear’s head with a bee resting on it’s forehead or third eye. It is greyscale except for the ten golden pentacles surrounding the bear. As with the ten of swords, I will explore the symbolism of this more later.
This time the keywords are joyful abundance and connection. It is about satisfaction, appreciation for our life’s journey and gratitude for what we have. The deck suggests that we create rituals to celebrate completion of particular journeys and phases as well as acknowledging that challenges and setbacks build us and help us to grow. It also notes that what we have achieved may look very different to what we set out to achieve and that is ok. Like all cards this could be read conversely as suggesting that you are not being grateful or not acknowledging how far you have come. We can get stuck in what we want to do and forget to look at what we have done.
Having looked at the decks, there are inevitably some common threads and I find pulling out questions can be a helpful way to help others read for themselves. With this card some of these could include:
How can you use your success to help others? What can’t you live without? What does success look like to you? How are you tending to the details of your health and life? What part of your life makes you feel richest? What does security look like to you? What have you inherited from previous generations? How are you practising gratitude for what you have? How are you working towards what you don’t have? What are your values in life?
The card is speaking to the blessings in your life, to your relationship with abundance, to how you work towards or have worked towards fulfilment, whatever that looks like to you. And that last bit is important here. To find the richness of the ten of pentacles, you must be travelling along and honouring your true soul path instead of doing what you think you should be doing or what other people are telling you you should be doing. If you follow other people’s paths, you might well find you harvest a bumper crop financially and physically but what of your emotional and spiritual wellbeing? This can mean that the ten of pentacles is speaking to you more of how you heal yourself, how you align your inner world with your outer world. As we’ll see, the associated mercury in virgo has aspects of this tending to your health and body, your emotions and your spirit.
Things you might want to reflect on are your confidence regarding your place in the world, your need for security vs your need for risk and adventure. Also think about how you can further about yourself to experience the hidden ordinary magic.
Unlike the ten of swords, the ten of pentacles is the accumulation of the suit ending on a high note. Michelle Tea says of it that “it is affirming that you’ve done the right thing, taken the correct actions, and made the best decisions, and the proof is in the very life you’re living… you’ve integrated your past achievements and their material payoffs into your life. You’ve accumulated enough emotional and material security to trust that it’s not going anywhere.”
The ten of pentacles associations
Mercury in Virgo
Mercury is the messenger of the gods, it is a communicator, an archetype of perceiving and transmitting, taking in and putting out. There can be an eloquence with this sign.
Then we have virgo, a sign which is detail orientated and also known for being of service. Whilst these characteristics tend to be interpreted as perfectionist and helper in pop astrology, we can also see this as being meticulous and good at tending to the day to day. There is an often overlooked aspect of tending to oneself, the day to day aspects of looking after yourself and others. The detail part of this sign can be seen in the daily brushing of teeth and fuelling your body through carefully chosen nutrients. Doing the little acts of self care even when you can’t see an immediate change. These acts accumulate and this is how virgo’s attention to detail shines. As an earth sign, virgo can be cautious, moving on a slower time scale than other signs. Here I feel like we have an association that perceives, that observes, the details of life – the little things which some people overlook – the smaller bricks that make a life. Ten of pentacles asks us to engage in small acts of attention and small acts of doing, both of which will build over time to create a gratitude and a security respectively.
I didn’t have any plants noted specifically in my little white book (where I collect all my thoughts and notes about tarot) so I did a bit of googling and found that this card is linked with:
Black tourmaline, copper, emerald, fossils, geodes, granite, jade, iron, jet, haematite, lodestone, roots and wild yam
I don’t know a lot about the properties of different crystals but these are feel strong and tough, hard to break, excellent qualities for the foundation we build through the suit of pentacles. Roots and the root vegetable yam are another kind of foundation. Not an architectural one but a more natural one. The roots of trees are what stop it from falling over in a storm. The roots of the yam seek out the daily water and nutrients which let it life and grow. We have the physical foundation or secure base of our home, the security of regular food and water, our health which may or may not feel secure. We are looking here at our needs and how safe and stable we feel with these and how we could work to strengthen the foundations of the needs.
The bears and the bees
Sorry, couldn’t resist…
Left to right: Animal Allies, Wild Unknown, Medicine Cards
For the lumina tarot, the symbolic animal for pentacles is bear and I love the bear, and the bee actually, so this has been a really fun post for me. One of the things I really like about the bear is the paradox or duality inherent here. We have the mama bear who loves her cubs gently and wholeheartedly. But we also have the fierce, protective mother who would kill to protect those she loves. Learning how to hold contradictions and dualities is an important part of life and for me has been helpful for firming up my mental health. Knowing I can be happy and sad and that one does not invalidate the other has been an important lesson for me.
But what does this have to do with the ten of pentacles you ask? Well, holding those paradoxes with peace is one way of creating a foundation for your inner world. Knowing that life is filled with happy and sad moments and that these do not contradict or invalidate each other even when they are concurrent is a way that we can hold onto something stable even in the most unstable situation.
There is also a strong grounding aspect to the bear, they are very in tune with the cycles of nature – life the cycles of the wheel of fortune – and can teach us the benefit of going with the flow, embracing changes instead of fighting against them. For a card that has inherent contradictions, it is probably no surprise that alongside going with the flow and the cycles of change, we are also invited to pause – to hibernate – and rest and just be, something that the ten of pentacles encourages as well.
Left to right: Wild Unknown, Animal Allies
If you know nothing about the symbolic meaning of bees, you probably still know they are hard workers. Busy as a bee. They are the embodiment of the work ethic that builds the foundation we see in the ten of pentacles. They, like the ten of pentacles, are manifesting abundance.
In my post about the wild unknown bee card I wrote that bees have sensory hairs which can determine wind speed and direction and they can see UV light which means they see the world differently to us. Flowers appear even more beautiful for the bee, pause and appreciate their magnificence, such a ten of pentacles message.
Where the bear is both loving and aggressive, the bee is both honey and the sting. This feels like a prompt to consider perspective within the context of the ten of pentacles, a reminder that what we have depends on what we see and don’t see.
I hope this, along with the ten of swords, has given you some flavour of the ten cards in tarot and how some are the manifestation of positivity and others the accumulation of the negative. Both have valuable lessons for us and both can help us grow, develop and enhance our lives.