What amazes me is how a card can be trying for so long to reveal an important truth, yet we sit and ponder every angle but that particular truth. Suddenly, out of the blue you turn over that card (again.. sigh) and it slaps you in the face!
The interesting part is that if we hit on the meaning before we are ready and receptive – well, it would have had no impact or very little. Our unconscious or subconscious knows what it is doing in these instances I am certain!
I am choosing to bypass all the possible meanings and traditional assignations for the 4 of Pentacles today. My focus for this image and this card is based on our attachments to having a defined identity. Those roles we give ourselves, and are given, that define who we are in this world. This includes the value we place on our sense of worth based on these roles and definitions. The need for stability in a world of impermanence and change.
The 4 of Pentacles will prompt thought on why we hold on so tightly, the fears we have and even promote ideas on what if we just loosen our grip a little, perhaps even let go.
When we think of 4 as a numeral it is solid stable and firm. The 4 corners of a square, 4 legs of a chair. Our 4 limbs. To step deeper into 4 there are 4 seasons, 4 elements, in the Kabbalah there are 4 worlds.
Pentacles as you know represent the earthly element. The aspects of life we can touch, see, taste. The material. The tangible. The earth is what we as humans are physically bound to through living.
The 4 of Pentacles can have an air of being too tightly attached to the earthly aspects, clinging to the idea of stability and familiarity to the detriment of our own well being and growth.
There is wisdom in taking care of what is precious to us, but when that becomes our priority above all else – that is when we need to reflect on our values most.
I chose the Mythic Tarot Deck for this Thinking Tarot piece, as the tale of Daedalus fits so well with the concepts present at this time. If you are not familiar with the story, Id love to share it.
Remember the tale of Icarus? Who flew too close to the sun against his father’s warning whilst escaping as prisoners of King Minos? Daedalus was his father. The designer of the wings made of feathers and wax.
Many years before his imprisonment, Daedalus was a famous sculptor in Athens. The best. He took on his nephew Talos as his apprentice. Talos invented the saw amongst other things.
Daedalus valued his identity as the best craftsmen above anything in the universe. He watched as Talos showed amazing potential, so much that Daedalus feared he would exceed himself – and become the best. Not wanting to let go of his position, Daedalus murdered his nephew. He then fled the city and ended up losing anyway.
What he placed so much value on, and held on to so tightly, was not worth it in the end. The essence of who we are is not what we do for a living, our status, our beliefs, our wealth. This is where I truly feel we as humans lose our way.
The 4 of Pentacles can amplify this sense of attachment to worldliness. Look at how Daedalus clutches the Pentacles so tightly.
Is it not so that the parts of us we hold on to so tightly as being ‘us’ are in truth compartmentalized sections of how we want to be perceived? Or even how we think we should be perceived? How is that even close to who we actually are?
We hold dear our cover identity because we believe that is what makes us acceptable and worthy. Or even unacceptable and unworthy. We define ourselves by our experiences, talents, friends, wealth and so on. We place ourselves up high because we are successful in endeavors. We place ourselves low because we fail. We identify ourselves as victims or martyrs, heroes or stars. Is this what we are made to live for?
Einstein has been quoted to have said “What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been lowered as to be perceptible to the senses.” So in a sense what we perceive, hold, touch – matter is empty space. This describes the physical objects. So our value, all of which remains when we leave anyway is emptyness.
Our identity – the protective armour we wear to hide our imagined flaws and shortcomings behind is our measure of self worth, when it is dissected up is empty too.
We fill our arms up with nothingness. We worship and guard what is pointless. Holding on can be a symbol possessiveness.
When we are in our old age, who are we? Often we describe ourselves as a retired something or other. We almost cease to exist already, while we are vibrantly alive and human.
In many images of the 4 of Pentacles we see the figure guarding his precious treasure, and often there is a dividing symbolic image in the art. It may be a wall, a door, a fence.
Gilded Tarot - 4 of Pentacles
This brings to mind how when we focus so much on protecting what we ‘value’ we become seperate and isolated. We lose that freedom of peace of mind. We are causing our own isolation from growth and seeing what is beyond.
Tolle teaches that who we truly are is separate from who or what our ego wants us to be. I am in agreement! Our ego is shaped by the experiences around us. It feeds on growing and tricking us into thinking it is really us – each person has ego in their make up.
What, in spiritual terms is our ego?
‘the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.”
So our ego is the part of us that identifies with our mind (thoughts) and our body (feelings). Our thoughts and feelings are not who we are. They are shaped and molded by our life experiences and by our memories, moods, and so on. The ego is the active part of us, that thrives on conditioning and environment. We are comfortable and safe when that environment is familiar and stable. This is when we hold tight, to what we have, what we achieve, what we know. The ego protects us in a way from being truly whole.
Our self – who we truly are, that is another matter entirely. By being aware of our true self, the essence of us, is something we needn’t fear losing. It is something we do not need to hold close to us and guard fiercely. No one can take it, and we must certainly move out of our little fortress to seek it out, to be conscious of it. In order to find it we must relinquish our grip on the worldy aspects we hold dear.
The first step in finding our true self is to discard our attachment to our ego. Acknowledge that in our actions and reactions we are driven by this ego component. This awareness is the very first step in discovering the true being that is you. By noticing the actions of our ego. Seeing how much importance we place on it and how much we listen to it above all else.
Step back and observe what goes on in you. Who exactly are you? What is this self so sought after?
An essence of life. A being with love unlimited. A human. A living breathing miraculous being. A vessel capable of pouring out light and receiving it. A sentient being equal and worthy of all that is good and pure. A being that is love. A being with compassion. Understanding that this infinitely amazing life force is you – and realizing that wanting to be defined as anything more than that is the ego at work – perhaps this is truly learning to let go.
What more could we be grateful for? In holding on to earthly possessions, to our ego, our identity, our status, our perceived worldly value, we miss out on having our arms open for growth, personal expansion, inner calm and true purpose.
All these things come and go. At the end of the day, all we really have is our spirit, heart and love. These are the things that if cultivated will remain with us eternally.