Tuesday, December 04, 2007

7 Pentacles - The Right Answer

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..

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, 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.


7 Pentacles

Here we evaluate the results of all the work that's gone into this project, whatever that project might be. The example we've been following is a writer boldly beginning her first novel and having her adventures after that, however these processes apply to almost anything you can do.

Here in 7 Pentacles our writer applies aesthetic criteria to the results of her labors and tries to figure out what is the right thing to do.

We are looking at the bottom circle in the right hand column of the Jacob's Ladder diagram. Note it has no other circle behind it or superimposed on it.

This part of the Ladder reaches down to mundane reality. This is where all that energy driving the project finally ends up manifesting in our conscious world.

The Suit of Pentacles represents the crystallization of energy -- the forming of concrete objects from philosophical abstract ideas, emotions, and actions, finally ending in something you can see, hear, touch and smell. It may be money, or what money can buy. Or it might be a tool -- or an obstacle you have created for yourself to overcome. It might even be a conundrum to consider so you will leap to a new level of spiritual insight.

This crystallized energy property of matter (yes, once again we're talking pure mysticism) is the reason the laws of magic say that it makes a difference what you say aloud while stirring the stew, what you mutter while hammering a nail, what you wish while quilting the baby's blanket, what you imagine while building a cabinet.

Things built with the power of intention (Wands), emotion, (Cups), and skilled action (Swords), manifest as an object which can outlast similar objects, be treasured by generations, have meaning when viewed in a museum, be studied in universities for hundreds of years, -- or simply change the world.

Compare 7 Pentacles with the 7 of Swords, Cups and Wands. 7 is associated with the various astrological meanings of Venus. Venus rules the natural second house, Taurus (money, and all concrete personal assets) but also the 7th House of personal relationships, Libra.

So 7 Pentacles is not so much about money alone, but rather where in your personal hierarchy of values you place "money." What are you willing to do for money? What won't you do for money? Would you promise to sell your grandmother into slavery? If so, would you deliver?

7's are about values, and those personal subconscious values are inevitably expressed in your personal aesthetic sense -- what you consider pretty, what you find funny, what you see as entertaining, what makes you cry, what makes you angry, what offends you. All that and more reveal what and who you really are, rather than who your parents wanted you to be or who you want the world to think you are.

All of your subconscious motivations, values and internal conflicts become concrete and externalized in 7 Pentacles.

Oh, here comes another cliche. As you sow; so shall yee reap.

That sums up the 7 Pentacles so we should just quit there. But who today knows what that means? There are so many thirty somethings who have hardly ever heard that phrase, as it is banned from television because, not only is it a cliche, it has religious associations. Besides, few today even sow a garden, and many 20 somethings don't know the difference between "sew" and "sow."

A family's very survival used to depend on sowing and reaping. Today people think reaping is done with a huge, expensive machine made by Caterpillar. The metaphor is broken.

But like, "As Above; So Below," "As you sow; so shall yee reap" is a maxim of the magical view of the universe. What you do has consequences that are directly relevant to your soul's journey through life.

And as noted in previous chapters, the Tarot based model of the universe is entirely rooted in Free Will. It is by your own, personal Free Will that you choose your actions.

Unfortunately, you rarely get to choose the consequences your actions produce. Even if you are trained in the methods of concentration and invocation used by practitioners of magic, and you use them, you still don't always get what you intend.

The subconscious mind projects the results of personal values into the material world, not the conscious mind. And that subconscious intention is the crop that grows as a result of actions.

But it isn't quite that simple, even at our Intermediate Level. The conscious mind may oppose the subconscious (and don't forget the levels of spirit and soul -- in the advanced study, you may learn about the 7 levels of soul within a human soul.)

If the conscious opposes the subconscious or has a different agenda, the subconscious may not be able to manifest its product cleanly against that interference. So looking at the material world result of a person's actions does not tell you (exactly) what that person's subconscious intended.

There's no way to reverse-engineer the results of an action to discover the "intent" behind the action because the result is a composite of many factors, and not all those factors originate within the individual who acted way back up there in the Swords processes.

Let's look in on our writer who gritted her teeth and started writing her first novel in Ace of Swords, had her packaging go all awry, finally began another novel in Ace of Pentacles and built a career in 4 Pentacles then lost her confidence in 5 Pentacles only to be offered a plum of a film option in 6 Pentacles.

In 7 Pentacles, she's sitting at the kitchen table over a cold, stale cup of coffee holding the pen with which to sign the option contract her agent negotiated for her.

She's been all over the web reading up on authors who have had films made of their books.

She's re-read some of the books then watched the films. She can see in her mind's eye what a horrible travesty of her book this film will be.

She just has to sign to get the money which she really needs. She remembers that striking moment of inspiration when she decided to write her first novel in Ace of Swords, opened the word processing file and stared at the blank page.

Ideas had been there for years, maybe decades. But in that moment, all the theory (Wands) and yearning (Cups) became the action (Swords) of typing a title.

It took all her courage to type those first words. But "Nothing ventured; nothing gained" so she made her fingers move.

In this moment, sitting over this option contract, knowing what it really means, that first moment of typing her very first words of fiction and this moment of signing her name, signing away creative control (because it's take it or leave it time), are connected without any intervening moments. That first letter she typed feels like it was just yesterday.

This is her dream. It's come true.


And that's what stops her. Her consciously espoused values and what her subconscious has projected into the world don't exactly match.

And now, when it's too late, she realizes that the reason she has to surrender creative control of what amounts to the most important thing she owns (her family is more important but she doesn't own them) is not what she has done -- but rather what she has not done.

She wanted the "big bucks" -- but she didn't stop in her headlong plunge to get these books into print to develop the skills and credentials that would allow her to be trusted to write the script. She had in fact, never really visualized this moment when the option would be before her.

And it's not a contract to make the movie -- it's only an option. Which means the movie might never be made. Nothing may come of this. That's a lesson she learned in 5 Pentacles -- not to be so cocksure she knows what she's doing.

But in 6 Pentacles she learned a lesson hammered home into her subconscious by love which she is now trying mightily to assimilate. Though there were people who scoffed and scorned her novel, there were also those who loved it. Those are the people she wrote it for; those who would understand it.

Remember, this is the author who, when her cover and even her byline were totally messed up by the publisher, adopted the screwed up byline and appeared on local cable TV to give unstintingly of her experiences to those who hadn't yet reached that point.

In 6 Pentacles, something was given back to her, and now she is looking at the prospects opened by that gift of love. And she has to evaluate what all this means.

She can extrapolate events in a straight line from here. She knows what seeing that messed up cover and byline felt like. She knows what the total rejection of 5 Pentacles felt like. She doesn't want to experience that again by seeing the travesty this option will create of her novel.

But in 6 Pentacles, she learned an even deeper lesson.

She learned that life in this world isn't a straight line you can extrapolate like a novel plot. This isn't "Murder, She Wrote" or a "Star Trek" episode. This is real.

Events have meaning. Decisions have consequences. Everything has a price. But the connections between those elements are rarely clear.

And here's the value she has to apply to make her decision about whether to sell her soul for money to feed her family.

To what extent should we, as individuals, act to shape our own destiny -- and to what extent should we bow to a Higher Power?

At what point does humility become pride?

Who are we to know what any given event or opportunity means?

Maybe the director of this film will cherish her heart and soul -- maybe that relationship will lead to a second marriage, the birth of children who will change the world for the better?

Maybe her heart she has poured into this novel will be set on a shelf and forgotten. Maybe an award winning blockbuster film will be made that thematically says the opposite of what she, herself believes. And for that, according to this option, she might get paid residuals for years to come.

Knowing how she arrived at this moment, willy-nilly, on the wings of a hope and a prayer, on naive certainty she knew what she was doing, on sacrifice of her paying job to write these novels, knowing she didn't do this on purpose, she knows she can't consciously impose her choice of what will happen as a result of her next action. Furthermore, she's learned that total control of her world by herself might not be the best possible idea.

So she sits over her cold coffee, cream congealing, pen poised, and ponders.

What she's really doing is letting the lesson of love learned in 6 Pentacles soak into her subconscious and change her on a level she can't consciously reach.

The lesson of love in 6 Pentacles, just like the lesson of Love in 6 Swords, has its roots in the harrowing experience of the previous 5 process, which couldn't have happened had nothing been grown in the preceding 4 process, and so on back to the origin in Ace of Wands.

The philosophical abstracts upon which she's founded her life are sweeping through her mind, dragging waves of emotion in their wake, which cause jittering jerks of action toward signing, not signing, swishing the coffee around in its mug, glances at the clock.

She has to sum it all up and make a value judgement.

If she hasn't the energy to form that judgement (either a yes, or a resounding no), or if she's conditioned against forming value judgements (if she hasn't practiced by judging the values of others) she will become trapped in a 7 Pentacles Reversed situation.

All that she's endured from Ace of Swords on down will have produced valid work, good novels that entertained thousands, but she will have nothing to show for it all and will have to start a new project, perhaps a new career.

It is the forming of the judgement that is the process here -- not "getting the right answer."
We search incessantly for the right answer. We are conditioned from early grades in school to find the right answer, to get the right answers on tests, to be right.

We can spend our whole life searching for that one and only right answer.

"What does this Tarot card actually mean?"

"What should I do now?"

"What will happen to me next month?"

We ask that kind of question never suspecting that the formulation of the question leads us away from useful answers (not "right" answers; useful answers).

Having brought a project down from Ace of Wands, through Cups, into Swords where action is taken, and now deep into Pentacles -- here, in 7 Pentacles we have to figure out what we've learned, what we have actually produced, how what we've learned has changed us so that what we've produced is no longer a valid representation of what lies within.

We may learn here in 7 Pentacles that questions about values and relationships don't have answers, but rather like algebra, they have solutions.

Venus represents the subjective reality of our personal, internal life and the subconscious drives that govern (not control, govern) our personal relationships.

What is the "right" thing to do at a decision-moment like signing a coveted contract is a question that has a solution -- but no "answer."

It's not arithmetic. It's not a calculation. But it's not random either.

What this author does in this moment will have consequences. There will be a link between her action at this point and the ultimate consequence, but the nature of that ultimate consequence arises more from Divine Will than from Human Will (though both are involved).

To sign or not to sign isn't the question.

No matter what she does, she may have vast financial success or end up dying as a street person. There is no "right" answer to this kind of question.

But the question must be answered. To refuse to answer is in fact an answer and will have consequences.

So, if it doesn't matter "What" you do -- then what does matter?
Harmony. Peace.

That is ultimately what Venus is all about, and the 7's moments are Venus moments. They are moments when you take all the experiences that have come before in all these processes we've discussed and synthesize them into beauty.

To get the optimum consequence from this moment, (not right, not wrong, not best, not avoiding disaster, not defying disaster, just optimizing your performance in your personal, subjective life) -- you must use all that's come before this moment to bring your conscious and subconscious minds into harmony if not actual agreement.

You must internalize Love (the 6's) and love yourself.

All relationships are rooted in your own love of yourself, your own ability to have compassion for your tormented subconscious. To the extent that you love yourself, you will be able to love your spouse and children. To the extent you have compassion for your subconscious, you will have compassion for your intimate associates. That's the secret of solid novel plotting.

And that's why our author is sitting there so long, pen poised over this opportunity of a lifetime, hesitating.

She has to write her name in a moment when her subconscious, conscious, mind and soul and spirit are all in harmony. She has to be at peace internally to create peace as a result of this document.

That's it. Magic is subjective. Love is the glue that holds the universe together.

Having been through 3 previous 8's and 3 previous 9's and 3 previous 10's, she has a good notion what challenges await her in 8 Pentacles, 9 Pentacles, and 10 Pentacles. (You should by now, too.)

She knows that if she acts without internal conflict, she will be able to negotiate through the coming mine-fields to the end-of-life experience she prefers.

She has learned a lot (maybe not all there is, but a lot) about internal conflict by crafting it for her characters and writing about the results. She's learned the shape of the world by doing that, but she knows she's no hero. It takes more than she's got to do what she knows she must.
So where's it going to come from?

Magic is subjective. In the mystical realms, it doesn't matter what you do nearly so much as it matters who you are when you do it.

Remember, your values, summed up in the 7's, tell the world "who" you are by determining what you like, what repels you, what makes you laugh, etc. And those values bespeak "who" you are to the universe, as you act.

So whether she signs or not won't determine her fate or the fate of her novels.
But what she thinks and feels and does as she signs will determine at least some of the outcome, if not the path to that outcome. And what she thinks, feels and does is determined by those internal values, by her Identity.

Still, this one single act of signing an option contract won't change things so very much. Life is made up of a myriad acts. The policy which generates those acts (determined by her values, thus by her Identity) will ultimately determine the significance of what happens -- but it won't determine exactly what happens.

Your destiny isn't graven in stone. You craft it yourself, but you don't craft it by yourself.

Venus is about relationships and values, two of the ingredients necessary to shape your destiny because they are defining elements in your Identity.

Back to the ancient wisdom encoded in the weary, shunned cliche.

As you sow; so shall you reap. Be careful what you pray for; you might get it. Better late than never.Neither borrower nor lender be.

The results of our efforts that come to fruition in 7 Pentacles are determined by the aim we took at our goals in Ace of Wands, then Ace of Cups, then Ace of Swords, then Ace of Pentacles, and by the level of harmony within us at the time of Ace of Wands. That was many processes and experiences ago!

Crafting a life is like astrogation -- a very tiny increment of an angle difference in course at blast off to a distant galaxy can result in arriving at a very different galaxy. The 7's allow for mid-course corrections in life.

So whether she signs or not doesn't matter nearly so much as how much internal harmony she has achieved because of the experience of Love and Charity in 6 Pentacles.

If she acts in harmony now, the film gets made, maybe it doesn't resemble her novel very much, but it says what she became a writer to say. The message reaches far and wide and makes a difference in some lives. The world is enriched and her next novel provides enough new contracts that she can finish a good career and retire.

Or perhaps the film never gets made, she inherits a fortune she never expected (or wins the lottery) and can retire in comfort.

If she's in internal angst and conflict instead of harmony, if she's held motionless over this option contract because she must bludgeon her subconscious into submission, then most likely she will sign and the film will get made.

But it won't resemble her novel at all, says the opposite of what she personally values, and it bombs at the box office, ruining her reputation as a writer. Her 3rd and 4th novels are given no publicity. She can't sell a 5th no matter what she does. And she wonders if she did the right thing trying to become a writer.

Yet another possibility is that the film gets made, says the opposite of what she values, and is a smashing success. But her subsequent novels don't live up to the promise of the film because deep down, she simply doesn't believe what the film says and can't mimmick that philosophical stance.

Bottom line: you can't guide your life on purpose. You may have an intuitive sense of what your life is or will be, and you may actually end up at that point, but it won't be conscious choice that creates that end. Nor is it destiny.

The theory behind the Wisdom behind the Tarot is all about the soul and the spirit, the intangible part of the human being that survives death of the body. The Tarot is the "Royal Road" to Wisdom, not material success, nor even "happiness."

And so the cards have no "meaning" at the intermediate level and there is no "right answer" nor any roadmap to destiny or way to avoid disaster.

Still, it isn't random. It isn't futile. It isn't all just smoke and mirrors. And it most especially is not a matter of opinion with anyone's opinion being equal to anyone else's.

There is, this ancient wisdom insists, a very well defined objective reality out there, and it is within human purvue to apprehend that objective reality. The shape of it, and its rules of function, are encoded in the Tree of Life and the extension ladder of 4 Trees called Jacob's Ladder.

When you stop obsessing on finding "the" meaning of Tarot cards or a Reader who is "good," or "psychic," you will be able to place your foot on the bottom rung of the ladder that leads to solutions, not answers.

Because there are so many variables in life, there are no "right" answers, no one thing that works for everyone all the time. But there are workable, usable, general solutions to common equations.

Most of your life, even though it is unique, is just exactly like everyone else's life. That's why film makers and novel publishers want stories that are identical to successful ones - but also new, fresh, startling and unique.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg


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