Tuesday, October 30, 2007

2 Pentacles - Affairs of Wizards

As noted previously, this is a chapter in a book about the Tarot aimed at Intermediate students of Tarot, not beginners or advanced students. It is particularly aimed at writers looking to learn World Building and Alien Character building.

Updated and expanded compilation of all these Tarot Just For Writers entries is now available on Kindle:

The Wands and Cups Volumes and  the Swords and Pentacles Volumes, are now all available separately on Kindle.  The 5 Volumes combined are also available on Kindle as one book, cheaper than buying them individually.

The Not So Minor Arcana: Never Cross A Palm With Silver Aug 30, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Wands Sept. 1, 2015  99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Cups Sept. 11, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Swords  Sept. 17, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Pentacles  Sept. 21, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Books 1-5 combined Sept. 24, 2015 $3.25

This series is designed not for the beginner or the advanced student, but for the intermediate student and specifically for writers doing worldbuilding..

Linnea Sinclair in her October 29, 2007 post, noted how the appeal of Alien Romance lies in the Romance itself when the female lead does not share our cultural expectations of gender roles.

The study of Tarot via the Jacob's Ladder model should give writers a leg up on this difficult task as it delineates the raw experiences of life that would be common among all creatures in all galaxies -- the shared background upon which Romance can be built.

For an example, see my duology, Molt Brother and City of a Million Legends, available on Amazon.com. The alien culture is built on the Tree of Life "Lower Face."


And Remember: The meaning of a Tarot Minor Arcana resides in the placement on the Tree of Life (i.e. the number on the card) integrated with the "World" or Suit of the card.

For the Tree of Life and the Jacob's Ladder diagrams see:

I don't really go with the way this page explains the Tree, but it is worth thinking about. There are many other ways. For now, ponder the diagrams on this page or Google up some others.

I have been posting here since August 14th, every Tuesday, the 10 minor Arcana of the suit of Swords. The Ace of Pentacles was posted Oct 23, 2007.

2 Pentacles

If the Aces are origins, the condition before anything happens, the point where the entirety of the elemental substance exists as a point, the 2's are the very next moment when differentiation begins to appear.

The 2 of Swords was the moment when the writer who had decided in the Ace of Swords to write a story first sees her words before her eyes. She has externalized something that had formerly been formless and internal.

The 2 of Pentacles is the moment when the writer first feels the impact of the materialization of that idea. (Wands are Ideas.)

Think about what happens when you've sold your first story or novel. Or what happens when someone reads and likes your story.

Think about how that is a moment when your story has become "real" to you on a level you never knew existed before.

This is a moment when what you have created splashes back and changes you. The 6 of Swords which underlies the 2 of Pentacles is the action of striving for change on a soul level.

The change that is striven for was instigated by criticism in 5 Swords and sought in 6 Swords as a new start impelled by Love. In 7 Swords the perception of the values of others, the beauty other people see, impacts and motivates actions anywhere from stealing what others have to copycatting their actions. (think HS girls adopting the dominant girl's dress and accent to don her popularity) And in 8 Swords the results scare you stiff.

Pentacles are Reality, the substance from which all our world is molded and crystallized.

2 is a moment of perception of a division, a dichotomy. The single thing that was so complex you couldn't explain it is now two things.

Yes, that's what happens when you get positive feedback, validation, from another person about something which previously only existed inside your mind. You see your creation through the eyes of another person and it's not the same! (try the feeling when a fan writes a story in a universe you created! Eeerie!)

That vision through the eyes of another sparks your creativity, and suddenly, you get another idea, desire to present that idea, swift decision to do it, and presto you are now juggling two projects.

The Waite Rider deck nailed this one too. It uses a figure juggling two pentacles in an infinity sign. The two projects are related, bound together, but require extreme discipline to balance them against each other.

This is the point in the process where things get really complicated because as you do things that materialize, those things change you -- and you hardly know "who" you are anymore on the ladder of success. It's easy to lose discipline then.

Projects beget projects, complications mount, you get involved in other people's affairs, office politics, messy divorces and even messier marriages, and you find yourself dancing as if in a fairy circle (where they make you dance to death).

This is the quintessence of Multi-Tasking where you may try to be all things to all people and (2 Pentacles Reversed) lose yourself.

The novel plot structure based on this is used in The Dresden Files novels (and TV Series) and is most clearly exemplified in the TV series BURN NOTICE. You also may have seen a more tame version in the TV series THE WALTONS.

Two or more plots going on simultaneously, side by side, each a plot by itself but each also a complication to the other plot. Each simultaneous plot is a sub-plot of the other plot.

Think of the story where a guy has dates with two different girls at the same time on the same night. That's a Two Pentacles moment where the tinge of duplicity from 7 Swords shows through into the materialization (actually getting the dates) of the desire for popularity.

That's what the 2 of Pentacles is about -- complications vying with each other to become main plots. You have a tiger by the tail and there's nothing to do but swarm aboard and ride it.

Thus I call 2 Pentacles getting caught up in the Affairs of Wizards.

And there is an element of magic behind it, an esoteric connection among the plots. That connection is the Theme of the novel or story.

The "theme" of a piece of fiction is what the story is about, what the story says about "life, the universe, and everything." About matters of ultimate concern (i.e. death, immortality, the meaning of life.)

Why do stories have themes?

Ever thought about that? Why do we want to read stories that say something, especially if we might not always agree with what the story says?

Isn't action enough? Isn't character and relationship enough? Why does a story have to say something?

Well. The only reason I can think of is that life itself "says" something, so a story wouldn't seem realistic if it didn't "say" something too.

Each of us lives our life to a purpose, whether we know it or not (as discussed in Wands and Cups). We sometimes look at the lives of others (read biographies of famous people or just talk to people sitting on the benches in the park) and feel they have a purpose and a shape to their lives but "I don't."

Well, from the inside, it's very hard sometimes to see one's own life as purposeful.

I've known writers who struggled to write biographies and were astonished to learn that in order to sell a biography, you not only had to have a famous subject to write about, but you had to have a theme you had found in their lives.

That's right -- biographies get written about people whose lives actually do (or can be made to seem to) exemplify some theme.

That's why you usually see biographies about older people - those who have lived long enough that you can see a pattern in their lives that repeats or moves to a goal. You need a long sample to see the poetry, a whole stanza to hear the music.

But we write novels about young people, and we spend most of our lives as young people! Really! Old age doesn't set in until you stop learning and that's usually only a few years before you leave this world.

So we learn the patterns that life tends to follow from talking to other people, from watching TV and movies, reading books, but usually it isn't obvious what those life patterns are, how they change through life, and what they mean.

Tarot and Astrology chart and follow the change and meaning of life patterns. That's why it seems they can tell you "the future" -- but they can't, not really. They can only tell you the average person's experience with the issues you are dealing with because both techniques are based on empirical research summarized over thousands of case files.

Are YOU an average person? If you're reading this, you probably aren't.

In 2 Pentacles, we first come to grips with a change in our life-pattern that has happened because of the project started in Ace of Wands and brought all the way down.

Remember, in 5 of Swords we confronted criticism, internalized it and either fled or embraced it in 6 Swords, then came to 7 Swords and entered the process of real change.

As noted above 7 Swords underlies the 2 of Pentacles. Check the Jacob's Ladder diagram.

2 Pentacles is the way out of the difficulties of 7 Swords.

2 Pentacles can be thought of as Responsibility, personal responsibility for the concrete results of your own actions and decisions.

Thus 2 Pentacles is the function of taking charge of a matter, issue, affair, deal, project. Or all of the above. That's why it's a juggle.

Why are the 2 Pentacles bound by an infinity symbol though? I'm sure you'll read many explanations, but try this idea out and see if it takes you anywhere.

If the Pentacle is the symbol for crystallized Godshine energy, crystallized Divine Will, and 2 is the awareness of the factoring of a single thing into two things, then perhaps the infinity sign binds the 2 things so we will remember that they are of the infinite and not actually separate from it.

The Universe was Created in balance and always defaults to the balanced condition - "good" balances "evil." The 2 Pentacles is the effort to mix and match our affairs to balance them against each other (playing both ends against the middle; one woman dating two men on the same night when one of the men she's dating is dating two women on the same night) in such a way that we can travel our own path.

That underlying 7 of Swords holds the clue. Venus, the planet of Relationships, of Love, is associated with the 7's. The lesson of the 7 of Swords is all about what is mine and what is yours, about what I may or may not copy or take from you, what you teach me, what I learn, and how it changes me. It's about Relationships and Values. And so is 2 Pentacles.

Which brings us back to the Character Arc -- how characters are changed by the events in their story.

In story as in real life, it's not just people doing things. It's the effect the things people do have on themselves and others. Every thought, word or deed etches its permanent effect on all reality. You are changed by your choices, just as your choices change your world.

That Character Arc of change bespeaks the Theme most closely, most artistically. A novel will stand or fall on whether the Characters change in believable ways.

And so does your life.

However, we learn from watching others live that there are very real limitations on who can change into what, how fast. Thus novels fail if the characters change too fast.

We learn from Astrology that people can become a better (or worse) version of themselves, but they will always be the same Self.

As we age, we don't become different -- we become more-so.

If this is true of humans, I'm betting its true of any aliens we might meet, too.

So in 7 Swords we begin to act on what we learned of love in 5 and 6 of Swords. We let change ripen within us, we try to re-model ourselves after the habits and values of others. We steal, or copycat, actions of others.

Those efforts in 7 Swords can produce a proliferation of affairs, a multiplying of concrete effects in 2 Pentacles.

For example, you set out to write a book on deadline, renovate a house and flip it, or finish a degree in college to get a raise -- you take on a project appropriate to the New You that will improve you and your life.

And as a result you meet someone who needs help moving because he can't afford to hire Two Guys And A Truck, so you help. That strains your back, so you can't work on your project.

So the person you helped brings you groceries and stays to help on your project. "You dictate; I'll type it for you."

Leaving, your new friend can't get his car started. Helping him, you accidentally set his car on fire. You tell him you'll pay for the uninsured part of the damage if he'll help you get your book to the publisher on time, or fix the house to sell it, or finish your degree work so you can get the raise.

That's a 2-Pentacles situation where you get deeper and deeper into juggling the affairs of others as you take personal responsibility for the changes in the world wrought by the New You.

Because of the change inside you, you attract people who take responsibility for the changes they make in your life.

That reciprocity is represented by the 2-Pentacles bound by infinity. Reciprocity balances the world's affairs.

2 Pentacles Reversed will be very familiar to most who have been members of organizations -- a garden club, a dance troop, a choir, a critique group.

There is always the newcomer who arrives and volunteers for everything, works up a furious storm producing wonders for the organization, then poops out, drops out, disappears leaving responsibilities unfulfilled in an organization that is now larger than the available workforce can handle.

That over-loaded volunteer suffered a 2 Pentacles Reversed when things happened in life that should have been budgeted for in time and energy, but weren't. Very often, in a 2 Pentacles Reversed moment, all responsibilities get dropped instead of just the excess ones.

2 Pentacles Reversed happens because of too many irons in the fire, an unrealistic (Pentacles is reality) assessment of the extent of resources to cover obligations. A lack of BALANCE between commitments and resources.

If the person hasn't internalized the changes from 6 of Swords, and hits 7 Swords with the same habits in place, a side-step into 2 Pentacles will result in this sort of disaster.

The remedy is in the 8 of Swords -- facing fears, assessing hazards realistically, learning to take damage to achieve an objective, working the equation of ambition vs. ability so it balances and can stabilize you through the 9 of Swords.

Sometimes that damage you have to take is simply saying "no" when someone asks you to volunteer for one more thing than you can handle. The damage is to your self-image.

The test of 2-Pentacles is of your ability to assess the changes wrought via 6 of Swords (which is also the Ace of Pentacles - a new start) -- and realistically measure your ability to take on responsibilities in the material world.

If you fail the test (we all have; don't be embarrassed), take your project back to the 7 Swords process and move it through 8 Swords and on into 9.

Of course, at 8 Swords you have the option of skipping over to 3 Pentacles, if you're brave enough, strong enough, committed enough.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg


  1. Well, now I know why Star Captains' Daughter has two plots - the main plot and the strong secondary plot which was always trying to take over. In fact, a lot of my stories are like that. My life is all about juggling and scheduling responsibilities, projects, and roles, and keeping priorities straight. I've learned to keep it all in balance and how to recover when it falls apart to get back on track.

    Now, can you explain to me why my stories always involve three main characters? There must be some psychological author's syndrome to explain it. I only just noticed this about myself. I don't do it on purpose.

  2. Kimber An

    Kirk-Spock-McCoy three components of ONE PERSON, or so Gene Roddenberry always said.

    Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis.

    It's built into the structure of creation.

    How a writer handles those three characters is to control the POINT OF VIEW.

    Notice how Trek would do whole episodes focused on one character, then another. That's point of view control.

    One person is living a story - and the story is told from that person's point of view. The OTHER protags are affected in ways that support and illuminate the nature of the person living the story.


  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Whoa. I am totally blown away.

  5. Yeah, art does that -- blow you away.