Tuesday, November 20, 2007

5 Pentacles -- Bad Reviews

As noted previously, this is a chapter in a book about the Tarot aimed at Intermediate students of Tarot, not beginners or advanced students. An updated and expanded version is now 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..


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.


5 Pentacles

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 group?

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 and strategy.

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 Spock.

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 beloved.

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 reality).

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 throw a party and nobody comes.

You distribute a hundred review copies and get no reviews.

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 for yours.

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 to you.

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 book.

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.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg



  1. One certainly doesn't need to be an author to go through that. Good stuff, Jacqueline!

  2. More excellent work from you, J.L.! Keep it up, your analysis is tops.