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
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
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.
The 3 of Pentacles was accidentally posted dated Monday November 5th.
We are now discussing the 2nd circle up from the bottom of the left hand
column (your left, as you face the diagram) of Jacob's Ladder.
In 4 Pentacles we spent a long time building something.
The writer we've been following is building her career in 4 Pentacles,
submitting outlines, getting contracts, delivering novels, doing galleys,
juggling all this against family, health crises, and obligations. She is
trying to resist all distractions. It rarely works.
In the 4 Pentacles processes, she's writing characters layer by layer,
building one layer on top of another to create deep characters she can write
long series of books about. She's creating intricate worlds, one layer at a
time, one revelation at a time. All that is 4 Pentacles, the long
apparently non-productive pause in the materialization of a project.
Now, in 5 Pentacles we come to a situation similar to what we found in 5 Swords.
Check Jacob's ladder again and note how both 4 and 5 Pentacles dangle out in space, without another layer of circles behind them. This section of the Ladder is fundamentally different from the top section of Wands, which also dangles out in space, and at the same time it is much more accessible to living people than the top. This is familiar territory.
So in 5 Swords, our writer presented her (overly long) novel to her critique
group and felt their criticism as an attack. She fought back, defending her
baby, and eventually felt their love and learned something (6 Swords). But
the 5 Swords process was brutal.
So what happens to our writer now she's got it made, has a career,
contracts, and can say proudly, "My editor told me . . .."
Her books start being published (Pentacles -- materialized) and her career
hits the 5 process in Pentacles. What could be worse than a hostile critique
Now that she's self-confident and happy -- she gets a bad review, a
scathing, scornful review that reveals loudly that the reviewer didn't even
read the book!
Devastated, she can't write. She's lost self-confidence. She misses a
deadline. Her editor is on her tail. Her family erupts in rebellion (You
have to go to my recital! You can't miss my graduation! Some mother you
are, nose in the computer while your kid has a fever!) She emails pdf files
to reviewers herself, but nobody has time to read her book. She asks for
help on the book she can't finish, and nobody has time. Her editor won't
return her calls.
On a fan listserv she has always relied on for support, she gets blasted by
a newbie because, "That's easy for you to say. You're a professional
writer!" And for the first time, nobody defends her. Her friends are gone.
She's in the 5 of Pentacles process.
This is actually a process we write so many novels about. This is the
Initiation where you get sent into the desert alone, or dropped into a
forest, or marooned on a desert island, all alone with nobody to depend on
but yourself. It's a Teen Rite of Passage we repeat throughout life.
The lesson to be learned through this process is the one we harp on in so
many Romance novels -- no man is an island. (yep, another Cliche)
It's not about islands. Or men. It's about self-reliance. Not independence,
but real self-reliance. 5 Pentacles is where you learn not to need help but
to give help -- not to be dependent but to support others.
The 5's are associated with Mars, ruler of Aries, the natural first house.
It's all about ego, and ego strength. There's a difference between being
strong and being a bully. There's a difference between being self-reliant
or independent, and being isolated like a sociopath who can't make emotional
contact with others.
Aries is the loner, the first-in scout, the explorer -- Daniel Boon or
Captain Kirk. But a leader needs people to lead. And in 5 Pentacles,
there's nobody following -- except others who are (cliche warning) "on the
outside looking in."
Mars is the root of the meaning Martial Arts -- the arts of war. It is both
defense and offense. It is the way of using force, power, position, tactics
But Mars is also about sex. There is nothing more sexy to a woman than a
powerful man in full possession and control of his manhood.
But what good is all that without the recipient?
And so love comes into the picture, and we see the lesson of 5 Pentacles is
about the meeting and blending of two strong egos battered by isolation.
Think of all the fanfic about Star Trek's Spock! His time on the Enterprise
was a 5 Pentacles period of isolation from his peers and estrangement from
family. That loneliness made him seem intensely sexy to many women writers.
The first real "Alien Romance" novels may have been Star Trek fanfic about
In 4 Pentacles, our writer wrote and wrote, creating substance from her
heart of hearts, sure her second novel would be accepted.
In 5 Pentacles she offers it to the world (Mars is the aggressive tendency
that gets you out of procrastination and on the move. Taking the initiative
and contacting an agent or editor is a Mars function). But her new novel
is ignored. Or maybe outright rejected. Or perhaps rewrite demands would
distort it all out of shape. Or the ARC may get bad reviews. All of these
events would be 5 Pentacles experiences.
She doesn't get the feedback she expected that indicates her heart is
beating in tune with that of others.
So the loneliness of 5 of Pentacles is a lesson in Love -- the importance of
it in our lives, the function of it even in the business world, the place of
physical possessions or other material resources (such as time and heart) in
Love. It is also about what lengths we would go to for social sanction.
Often we learn such lessons only by contrast, and 5 Pentacles is where the
contrast is most stark.
As we learned in 9 of Swords, the whole physical world is a projection of
our Ideas (9 Wands), Emotions (9 Cups) and Actions (9 Swords). All our
material possessions, including our very life, are shaped on the Astral
plane (the 9's) and are still rooted in that level of reality.
In a mystical sense, we are our possessions and our possessions are us. This
is true not just of physical things (your grandmother's antique vanity
mirror; your mother's sterling; your grandfather's Tefillin) but of all the
things you've created. Your marriage, your children; your characters; your
novels; your house decor; the critique group you founded.
Yes, there are things that pass through our hands without touching our
hearts. But there are things we cherish in a very special way. Those
things are imbued with our essence.
You know that romance has ripened to love when the things your lover
cherishes become things you cherish -- even if you don't particularly like
them. Because they have meaning for your relative, your S.O., your role
model, your friend, they have a new, unique meaning for you.
Love cherishes the significant and defining creations and possessions of the
Other, not for their intrinsic value, but because they are loved by the
Thus, when you offer something of yourself that is so significant to you,
and it is spurned by those you expect it will delight, you experience a
crushing blow akin to ramming into a brick wall (Pentacles; physical
The spiritual lesson of 5 Pentacles comes after that crushing blow, when you
are all alone, wounded and unable to get anyone to listen.
You win a contest and call everyone you know to tell them -- but nobody's home.
Here, in the total void, with all relationships absent, in the wake of your
friends betraying you, your spouse leaving you, your children screaming out
their hatred of you, you learn what a relationship really is.
What you have created with all your heart collides full force with what
others have created with their heart. And there's no room in their hearts
Relationships belong to Pentacles. They are investments of a non-renewable
resource. (Applicable cliche: "You only live once.")
In the 5 of Pentacles process you have to sort out what's important to you
from what you can throw away (the baby from the bathwater) in order to make
room inside you for what is important to others.
If you don't clear resources for what's important to others, nobody will
have patience with what's important to you. But even if you do clear
resources here, there is no guarantee others will treasure what is important
Having space inside yourself for what others cherish is a necessary
condition for building a Relationship, but it's not a sufficient condition.
Life is complicated in its sheer simplicity.
Martian energies often come on way too strong, so oddly enough the 5 of
Pentacles Reversed (where there is less energy pouring into the 5 process)
actually tends to work better.
In the 5 Pentacles Reversed, you get a few new chances or second chances to
jump-start a new relationship. Maybe your editor didn't read and accept
your manuscript because she was leaving the company rather than ignoring
you. Now a new editor writes how she loved your book, but wants changes.
She says they're minor, but to you they're major.
Maybe instead of a new editor you only find a new hairdresser -- but that
leads to meeting someone who knows someone, and you start to be included in
a new network of relationships. Somebody will have time to read your newest
These little 5 Pentacles Reversed openings are caused by your discarding
some irrelevant bits accumulated in 4 Pentacles to make room for something
created by another person.
Once the vacant spot inside you is open and clear, very likely something
will be attracted and fall into that hole. (not always a positive
something, though, so be wary)
If you like being included, you may clear away more space inside yourself,
and find you are able to attract more attention by paying attention to
others. And this is a process that may take years -- 7 years or so is normal, as that is the interval Saturn spends in the "obscure" part of your chart where nobody notices you.
Again, as with the 9's, this is NOT a conscious process. Most of the work
is done while you are asleep, out of body, visiting the astral plane,
reshaping your life by re-imagining it.