The 5 of Pentacles: Out in the Cold

Gosh, I’m really loving how this week is turning out. Not.  I do not like working with some of the more difficult cards in the tarot because somehow, I end up inviting those particular energies into my life.  I’m looking forward to finishing my discussion of the suit of the 5’s so I can move on to a more cheerful set.  I breathe a sigh of relief at having the more unpleasant two of the four (the 5 of Swords and the 5 of Cups) done.  I can’t wait to bid good riddance to bad rubbish!  Now as I’ve established in my two previous posts, all 5’s deal with challenge and change.  This is a volatile suit with difficult lessons that need to be overcome before the calm, soothing pleasantness of the 6’s can be embraced.  The next card in my chosen sequence, the 5 of Pentacles, deals with issues of lack.  Pentacles, being the element of Earth, hold domain over the more material concerns in our lives such as income, career, daily routines, and health.   The 5 of Pentacles deals with the uprooting of these foundations, and as a result, we can find ourselves ill, jobless, and craving support that never comes.  Although this suit deals primarily with tangible concerns, it can also be interpreted to mean emotional and spiritual impoverishment.  Feelings of abandonment and a loss of faith in God are some common manifestations, as are issues of survival.  Each day feels like a struggle to keep on going, with no light appearing at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

5 of Pentacles from the 'Aquatic Tarot'

Cards in traditional Rider-Waite style show a man and a woman clad in rags, huddling together for warmth outside a brightly-lit church. Other depictions have one of the characters handicapped/ disfigured, their faces turned away from the wind as they trudge through the snow, each seemingly contemplating their own misfortunes. It is a bitterly cold winter’s night and yet, they do not seek refuge in God’s house.  Have they been turned away, shunned as lepers, not even being able to rely on the charity of the church?  Or do they choose to suffer out of their own volition, so steeped in pride that it is beneath them to ask for help?  It is a bleak scene, and one straight out of a Dickens novel.  In each case, the scene elicits a mix of sympathy and horror as we gaze upon the unfortunates, at once grateful that we are not them and fearing that the unthinkable should befall us too.

5 of Pentacles from the 'Thoth Tarot'

Astrological Association:  Mercury in Taurus

In the Thoth tarot, the 5 of Pentacles is titled Worry.  Running the gamut from stresses about health and finance to ruminations about work and our relationships, this card predicts a time when we are so consumed with fears about the future that we find it difficult to function in our day-to-day activities.  The 5 of Pentacles’ astrological correspondence to Mercury in Taurus highlights issues of personal productivity and so, forces us to confront resulting feelings of self-worth and self-esteem (or the lack thereof).  The  mercurial element of this card also highlights concerns with communication, in particular the doubt that our opinions are worth voicing. There can be a fear of being met with disapproval or worse, rejection, and to avoid this end, we stifle our own creative urges and experience discontent when we choose instead to follow the status quo.

Angeles Arrien, author of The Tarot Handbook, notes that, “Worry is an interesting state of consciousness because it takes us to the future and it takes us to the past, but has us totally avoiding the present.”  In this context, the 5 of Pentacles can predict a time when we are overcome with ‘what-ifs’: we worry about how to succeed in the future because we base those possibilities on our failures in the past, completely neglecting to factor in the skills, abilities and resources available to us in the present.  We exhaust ourselves running in circles, going nowhere and ultimately convincing ourselves that external factors are against us when we have not given ourselves enough of a chance to discover the wealth of internal resources at our disposal.

5 of Pentacles from the 'Bohemian Gothic Tarot'

When the 5 of Pentacles turns up in a love reading, a number of possible interpretations may apply. It is possible that financial issues are placing  strain on the relationship.  The responsibilities of mortgages, loans, and the other trappings of marriage can make it difficult for both partners to invest quality time in their relationship.  One or both parties may harbor insecurities about their status in the partnership, resulting in feelings of alienation and isolation.  A general sense of lack pervades, and a once-warm partnership might abruptly turn cold.  Feelings of rejection widen the ridge between you and your partner, and a lack of communication for fear of being dismissed does not help matters improve.  There can also be a lack of common interests shared, resulting in emotional and spiritual impoverishment.  Also, due to the 5 of Pentacles’ association with physical concerns, issues of personal attractiveness and sexual confidence can arise.  It could point to a lack of physical passion in the relationship and thus, a loss of intimacy.  Another interesting interpretation is in the context of religion; due to the Christian themes present in the Rider-Waite version of the card, the 5 of Pentacles can also point to differing religious convictions between partners.  Such a fundamental difference in values and belief systems can be responsible for significant difficulties in the partnership.  On the bright side, this card encourages that if love can withstand such trying hardships and vast differences in values, then the relationship can weather any storm.

5 of Pentacles from the 'Mystic Dreamer' Tarot

With regards to finance and career, the 5 of Pentacles predicts a period of intense hardship.  There can be a struggle to make ends meet, and support from the most likely quarters won’t be forthcoming.  Unemployment, significant financial losses and debts that hard to make good on are a few of the more common manifestations of this card. I have also read that this card can refer to self-employment or freelance work that tends towards feast or famine. Communication challenges with business associates and colleagues can also arise. Contracts can be lost and negotiations can be the source of a lot of stress and uncertainty.  It’s best to approach this period with caution and review all assets available with an unbiased, objective eye.  Career and income options previously dismissed warrant a second appraisal.

Health-wise, the 5 of Pentacles augurs for a difficult time ahead.  A variety of physical complaints can present, and no resolution to these ailments is forthcoming.  Physical manifestations of illness can point to spiritual malnutrition; stress, unhappiness and feelings of isolation all create blocks in the etheric body which can lead to fatigue and other more serious presentations.  Sometimes, this card can also refer to abuse, self rather than other, though that sometimes can be far more difficult. Look for cards like the Devil and a reversed Temperance for confirmation. Connect with religion, or seek out a new faith. If orthodox healing is not what you’re looking for, then seek out alternative modes of spirituality.  Develop an appreciation for the mind-body-spirit link and your symptoms will disappear, though this will not happen overnight.

On the whole, the 5 of Pentacles is a difficult card to have turn up in any context. Like all other challenging cards in the tarot, it represents an opportunity for intense growth and self-awareness.  These are situations in which we need to call upon our own resources rather than relying on the goodwill of others, because the greatest lessons are learnt through hardship and experience.  Taken together, these then form the foundation for other ventures and relationships, borne of common sense and what we now know to be right for us. We become aware of how much we are capable of, of how much faith we have, and perhaps most importantly, of how much strength we have to push on in the face of adversity.



6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ashley
    Oct 23, 2012 @ 02:32:43

    Dear Rohini,

    Thanks, another great article of yours, with quite a depth. That’s exactly how I feel right now…no light at the end of tunnel, in fact, even worse. Yesterday, a man attacked me (hit my head with an object) and stole my purse. Financially I’m going through a difficult time and now the theft and shock, I feel even more miserable (though I know that I’m lucky that I had no physical injury or a brain concussion). I drew a lesson card (queen of pentacles) and an advice card (seven of pentacles). Seven of pentacles have always been a mysterious card for me (i drew it a lot for my other readings) and difficult to interpret. I hope you would also write about 7 of pentacles. I know that reversed 7 of pentacles could mean theft and loss , but the card I drew was not reversed (well, I don’t use reversed cards). Any idea about 7 of pentacles as advice?

    all the best,


    • Rohini Pathmanathan
      Nov 02, 2012 @ 09:06:14

      Dear Ashley,
      Please pardon the late reply…as has been the trend of late, life continues to get in the way of the things that matter. I am sorry for your recent misfortunes and yes, the 5 of Pentacles seems to be a very telling card to have cropped up in light of these events.
      I actually have written a post about the 7 of Pentacles on my blog and interestingly enough, it is a card that has been turning up for me with alarming frequency this past week. The universe has thrown me a bit of a curveball and with that, a few significant expenses have emerged. I suppose as advice, the 7 of Pentacles urges you to take stock of your resources/ values and await new developments. Patience is crucial and no sudden improvements will be forthcoming, so it’s a time of tightening the proverbial belt and having faith that what you’re going through is but a phase – one that will, given time, pass.
      The sevens in the tarot are about reevaluation, so perhaps its time to look back upon past experiences and opportunities, and derive strength from them. If you’re facing financial challenges, perhaps look over stock options that you previously dismissed? Or unearth a latent skill/ talent and generate side-income from it. I hope this helps!


  2. all Day long
    Nov 05, 2012 @ 19:15:00

    Hello there! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I truly enjoy
    reading through your blog posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the
    same subjects? Thank you so much!


  3. tillytarot
    Jan 04, 2015 @ 02:03:43

    Wow, I see you posted this years ago– but I just have to say you did a GREAT job at addressing this difficult card. I love how you integrated the astrological aspects of it, what the Mercury in Taurus has to do with it, etc. Bravo!


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