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 Arcanum 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, 2007, 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.
So here we are at the bottom circle on the middle column (the 3 columns are actually called "Pillars") of the Jacob's Ladder diagram. And this is the last one we have to discuss here.
Note that this 10 dangles down below all the others. The previous 10's all connected to the 6 of the next level down and were colored by that Love. So we can expect the character of this Ten to be a little different.
This one receives all the energy spilling down through all the others. That energy arrives here from 7, 8 and 9 by direct routes as well as the one we've followed. It all collects, crystallizes and fills up this "vessel." Naturally, this creates a complex content for this particular 10.
Or put another way, 10 Pentacles is the end result of that excruciating moment of commitment made in 3 Swords, the moment when THIS project was chosen to be done and therefore all the other ideas and projects and possibilities were sacrificed, discarded, lost. You put all your eggs in one basket, and now they've hatched (or not.)
One way to think of that bottom circle is as all of manifest reality. It is our concrete, everyday world, defined by 3 spacial dimensions and Time. It is where the laws of Physics apply rigorously. It is our normal waking consciousness plus the physical reality around us.
Every project we complete contributes some little something to shaping our personal reality.
But everyone is doing projects. "Reality" is the resultant of all our efforts.
All the other 39 Sepheroth are abstract principles, states of mind, levels of consciousness, subjective or hypothetical -- all parts of a "reality" nobody can prove is "real." Access to these mystical realms is only for mystics.
Except that whether you know it or not, you are embedded in the most mystical realm of all - Reality, the result of all 39 above us. All the projects you've completed have gone through most all these processes even if not in so orderly a fashion and with concrete manifestations.
10 Pentacles manifests the end, sum total, result of all the other 39 Sepheroth, their lessons and their processes.
Thus every manifestation of reality contains and perhaps clearly expresses all 39 processes from above. For example, taking a novel you've written to a critique group can often be a 5 Swords process - the reality clearly illustrates the principles of the 5 Swords process. But that reality also contains all the other processes above. Reality is "messy."
10 Pentacles is how the story comes out, how the mess manifests. This is The End. This is the climax of the novel. This is the purpose of all that activity fulfilled -- or not.
Here all the suspense is gone. It's all over. And so it can represent the end of life, or just retirement from a particular career to start yet another.
It is the life you have built, and the only way to change it now is to give up some part of it -- 10 Pentacles Reversed -- to break it up. One example might be a child building a castle out of building blocks or sand. Once completed and photographed with the proud child, it has no destiny other than being dismantled (or lacquered and kept forever).
Take for example, the ambitious businessman who gets an MBA from a top University, works 12 hours a day all his life, cashes out his business and retires wealthy. Now in 10 Pentacles, he can enjoy his wealth.
From here, there is nowhere for the descending energy to go but UP!
Yes, souls descend this ladder and turn around and climb back taking with them all the experiences and lessons gathered.
What is the Tree of Life? It is the method the Creator of the Universe used to generate this thing we call "reality." These Sephirot represented by the circles on the diagram are all the stages of Creation.
We spend our whole life in 10 Pentacles, but are not deprived at all the others because 10 Pentacles contains all the rest. Every project we do starts with an Ace of Wands, an Idea and ends with a finished product, a 10 Pentacles (or not).
At the end of life we contemplate death as the completion, the journey of return to the Creator. And we evaluate all we've accomplished in terms of the outcome, the 10 Pentacles.
Now we come to something really mystical.
The Pentacles are all about concrete reality, and that is the most mystical concept there is. Existence. Being. Is reality real? I think, therefore I am?
Humans can become afflicted with a sense of futility because it's so hard to see the result of what you've done, of what you've worked for, sacrificed for because everything is mixed up with everything else. All of one whole life's efforts can amount to nothing tangible at all. And one can be fooled into thinking a life was wasted because it had no discernible effect on the world.
But the 10 Pentacles lesson is that, no matter what you think you see looking back on your life, the true fact of the matter is that your existence has changed Reality permanently, indelibly, and irrevocably.
As we discussed in Swords, (which is contained inside Pentacles, remember), every thought, word and deed has an effect on the world around you.
A thought, word or deed, even just an emotion, an opinion kept to yourself, an observation, a hope, a dream, focused by kavana (intention) -- that is a "deliberate act" -- etches itself indelibly on the continuum, or Akashic Record.
If your thinking or feelings are messy, muddy, imprecise, or conflicted, you will leave a messy, muddy spot in the world when you leave. Someone has to clean it up; most likely you.
Our material reality has been given a receptivity to us. We are empowered to mold and change reality, and in fact if we don't take hold and do that with kavana, we do it by accident, carelessly. Because of our nature, we can't not-do it.
We have also been given Free Will. Thus we must choose what to do with our ability to change the world.
We have been given the power to "elevate" material things, to expose the divine sparks of spiritual energy within things by doing good deeds with them.
In 9 Pentacles, at the intersection between Things and Self, we organized our world around our Need. At 10 Pentacles, the Self that re-organized and coalesced in 9 Pentacles now projects into material reality.
There is a congruence between the Identity and the world that surrounds that Identity. It can be seen through astrology. It can be seen through Tarot. But we are all "works in progress," eternal web pages under construction.
Our external realities don't exactly match our internal reality. We resist (sometimes successfully for a while) the lessons pounded in by a material reality trying to reshape us, and sometimes we successfully pound back and reshape reality to our needs.
The mis-match is an area of conflict. Life is the process of resolving those conflicts, pounding back, smoothing it all out, and getting our personal reality to match our self-image or vice-versa.
But what do we do with it once we've gotten it done? What's it for?
Some traditions say that we can get off the Wheel of Birth and Death once the soul has learned these essential lessons about how material reality works. They say that some very advanced souls may voluntarily risk their perfected state by taking another incarnation in order to teach, to bring more souls to perfection.
The tradition behind the Tarot structure we've been studying looks at it the other way around. Instead of an objective of freeing ourselves from material reality, our objective is to prepare material reality so that the Creator can dwell here with us.
We touched on this in the description of material reality in 10 Swords: Your Chickens Come Home To Roost, (adjacent to 6 Pentacles, remember) where we modeled the world as a seething plasma of divine sparks swimming amidst a sea of dross.
Our job, done by all that pounding to get inside and outside worlds to match, is to free the Divine sparks and elevate as much of the dross as possible, letting the rest fall away. Once that is all completed, the world will be able to withstand the full force of the Divine presence and life here will become much nicer.
So how do you get a handle on "the world" in order to accomplish some part of this job? Where can you get hold of "reality" and change it?
Many people try to fix the world by teaching other people the right way to do things, and what never to do. They try to affect the behavior of others by disapproving of how they dress or what they eat. This is like the "misdirected problem solving energy" of 8 Pentacles Reversed -- you can work very hard for thousands of years and not make a dent in the real problem because you aren't addressing the real problem but only its reflection.
What is the real problem?
Remember, in 9 Pentacles we found how reorganizing our Self, our Identity around all the lessons learned in previous processes would affect how things turn out in 10 Pentacles.
How well we learn our lessons, how we resolve our internal conflicts, identify our true needs, wants, and desires and organize our whole Self into a team effort determines how things turn out in 10 Pentacles.
The smoother we cooperate inside our-Self, the smoother the parts of our external world will work together.
That external reality comes from our internal reality -- not the other way around. Remember the 9's are the "Foundation" of the World. It's not the World that generates the 9's. It's the 9's (astral plane) that generates the World.
Thus to change the world, we change our-Self.
We change what we think, feel, believe, dream, want, desire, imagine, enjoy, and do.
If you see someone behaving badly, look into yourself and find where that flaw has its counterpart within you. It won't be identical - that would be too easy. No, you'll have to search for the counterpart.
For example, if you see a shoplifter, you know you would never - ever - just take something from a store. Now watch inside yourself for a while (could take a couple of years of vigilance) and perhaps you will find a moment when you steal the limelight from someone and get a real charge out of it, or perhaps you might incorporate more of someone else's novel into your own novel than is wise.
Change the world by fixing yourself.
And when you've got it all done, you'll come to the 10 of Pentacles process and look around to see that's it's Good.
Let's see what's happened to our writer at the end of her career.
Well, the movie was a flop she doesn't even note on her bibliography. But they paid her a bunch of money. She paid the taxes and invested the rest in mutual funds and let it sit on re-invest for all those years.
It was a struggle to pay the taxes on the dividends and capital gains from her writing income to keep the earnings reinvested, and still put her kids through school but she managed.
Now she's writing her memoirs, showing how writing each of her novels resulted in learning a seminal lesson about life. She's not expecting to publish her memoirs. This book is for her grandchildren, of which she has six.
She expects to finish by the time her husband retires. The income from investing the film proceeds will let them travel as much as they want.
She's glad she signed the contract, and in a way very glad the movie was a flop and her career merely solid, not stellar. Now she can bask in anonymity.
If she were experiencing a 10 Pentacles Reversed process, a serious mis-match between her material reality and her inner Self, you might find a number of scenarios in her life:
a) the film would have been wildly successful and, intimidated by that success, she might have been unable to write any more novels and learn the lessons from them, and thus she would be rich but her husband would have left her because she turned into a shrew, the children abandoned her, and she might be too ill to enjoy retirement.
b) the film may have been moderately successful, but she lost all the money in the dot-com boom and bust investing in stocks instead of diversified mutual funds. Her writing income never made up the difference, her husband is invalided out of work, and now they face living on social security or sponging off the kids.
c) the film may have been a flop, but that so depressed her that she was never able to write well again, so she used up all the money putting her kids through school. Now she's buried her husband and her kids are unmarried -- and who knows if they have any kids!
d) the film may have been a flop, but she learned from it all and went on to write four or five more novels that were made into good films. She's rich and famous, but not so famous she needs security guards when she travels. However, the kids don't want any part of her, her husband divorced her and got alimony, and she can't see what she's done wrong.
Frankly, I think this writer's first film was a flop, but she went on to write books and her own original screenplays, has made a good living, learned all her lessons with a full heart, and her family still loves her (but usually that's apparent only on Mother's Day).
So how can a writer use these Tarot Card processes to build a World and construct a novel?
If you think this is a useful model of reality, then try to construct a character from the inside, and then generate their world to match. Leave a piece of the character in conflict, and see how that alters the world the character creates around him/herself.
Pick one of these processes to become the whole plot. Each one is a whole story in itself, an Initiation, an eye-opener, a life-changing event. Go through a 3's process and toss away everything but one single thing to focus on.
If you're building an Alien World, it needs a Philosophy and possibly a Religion. If you study comparative religion on Earth, you will find various versions, sub-sets, and derivatives of this master pattern called the Tree of Life buried within most of them.
If there exits an "objective reality" out there somewhere, other species will be probing it too, and will find some echo of this basic pattern -- it just may not be all that easy for humans to recognize their version of it.
If you start with this Pattern, and your alien's biology, look at the Pattern through their eyes, you will see how the religions of their world would likely interpret this Pattern, or some sub-set of the Pattern.
Because the Tree of Life is so familiar on Earth, human readers will recognize enough in your aliens to accept them as "real."
You'll find an example of this in two of my mass market paperback SF novels, Molt Brother and City of a Million Legends.
City of a Million Legends
The more far out the fantasy you are writing, the more necessary it is to provide the reader with a sense of reality. Using this very old, very standard model of reality which has been commonly adopted by many schools of philosophy and psychology can make your alien civilization seem real to the reader.