Nose to the Grindstone: Reading The Knight of Pentacles Tarot Card

How to go beyond the guidebook and read the Knight of Pentacles in any situation

Image courtesy of The Mythic Tarot by Joanna-Kate Grant.

This is the last article about the Knights in the tarot Court Cards-- the Knight of Pentacles. Pentacles are the Earth cards and are sometimes renamed as “Coins” cards, as their primary theme that they stand for is abundance, health, and wealth. This is the suit of reality-- the things that make up our human world and bodies-- and our daily lives. In many ways, these are the cards of humanity itself-- not just our qualities, hopes, and fears, but the give and take of our most human concern: life, and our ability to sustain it and protect it.

In this article, we’ll look at the Knight of Pentacles:

  • What is means
  • How to work with it
  • Interpreting it in a reading

This hardworking Knight never gives up, so get your nose to the grindstone and keep learning.

knight of pentacles tarot card
Look at how the colors green and gold are used in this version-- look up the meaning of daffodils in the language of flowers to see how it works into the symbolism. Image courtesy of The Tarot of Eli.

The meaning and message of the Knight of Pentacles

As with the rest of the Court Cards, the Knight of Pentacles could represent a person or a role that someone (or yourself) plays in your life. A hard worker, this Knight’s middle name is “persistence” and their last name is “dedication.” They don’t know the meaning of the word “quit,” but once they have finished their task, they also know how to savor the good things in life as a reward.

All Knights have a “teenager” energy or feel about them, but the Knight of Pentacles is a bit more mature-- still prone to throwing themselves into the pond head first and into the deep end, but doing so knowing that there is a long haul ahead as they swim to the bottom or the other side of the pond. They have stamina for days, too, which can compensate in some ways for the fact that they sometimes head in the wrong direction in their eagerness to complete the task.

In some systems, the Knight of Pentacles is called a “wish card,” meaning that it is a harbinger of good fortune. In this case, it’s only if you put in the hard work and put your nose to the aforementioned grindstone with single-minded focus. Traits, which, as we’ve already covered, this Knight has in spades.

Upright keywords: loyal, hard worker, focused, determined, with you to the end, success through hard work, rewards of hard labor, patient, protective, unwavering in devotion, stamina, in it for the long haul

Reversed, this card doesn’t topple the aforementioned on its head-- rather, it intensifies the characteristics of this knight to the point where they become a blockage or a problem. So a reversed Knight of Pentacles is not a quitter-- far from it. Rather, they are obsessive and a perfectionist, to the point where they have a real “it’s my way or the highway” approach to how things should be done. They do not know when to quit and they will not listen to reason. They’ve forgotten how to have any fun at all.

Reversed keywords: obsession with a goal, perfectionist, control freak, uncompromising, someone who thinks they are the only person who can do it correctly, grim, unyielding, refuses to recognize errors

knight of pentacles upright and reversed tarot card
Do you read in the upright position only, or do you read reversals too? Image courtesy of 78 Nights of Tarot.

Understanding the Knight of Pentacles

There’s a difference between knowing the guidebook-type of information listed above and truly understanding a tarot card. Whether you plan to use your tarot deck for divination or not, taking the time to explore the facets of each tarot card-- from artwork to the story it tells.

For the Knight of Pentacles, take a close look at the traditional artwork in the earlier decks such as the Rider Waite Smith deck, or an even older one, such as the Sola-Busca deck or the even older Visconti-Sforza decks.

The Knight of Pentacles or Coins is a man of the Earth, and as such, their horse is not the charger or sleek horses of the other Knights. Theirs is a plough horse-- a sturdy, hardworking breed bred for intelligence and labor, and trained to work with man for agriculture, not war. The land through which this Knight rides is golden and green, with ploughed fields-- further emphasizing the connection with Earth and wealth. In older decks and in the Rider Waite Smith deck, the horse is a dark or earth-toned color, further underlining the connection. They carry a single golden coin, usually impressed with a pentacle, the symbol of connection and divinity but the color of money.

Take a good look at your Knight of Pentacles card, and look for the similarities and differences. Compare and contrast it with others from other tarot decks, both old and new. Notice what stays the same or gets repeated, and how that may relate to the theme of the deck, and how that might alter your perception of the card. Also take note of what this tarot card’s artwork might have in common with other cards in your deck-- for example, how does it compare to the artwork for the other Knights? Doing things like this helps you to pull more nuances and connections out of your readings, as you are training your eye to read a narrative in the cards.

Another way to flesh out your understanding of this card is to make connections between its meaning/personality/energy and figures from literature, the arts, myths and other stories. Have you ever read the picture book entitled The Talking Eggs (1989) by Robert D. San Souci and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney? It has parallels to the Grimms tale Mother Holle. In both stories, a woman has two daughters-- one is industrious and kind, whom she hates and abuses, and the other is lazy and vain, just like her mother. The story goes on to put both daughters through the same trial, where the good, industrious daughter is rewarded for her hard work and the lazy, rude daughter (and sometimes the mother) is punished. The good daughter figure will help you understand the Knight of Pentacles in the upright position. For a more complex, flawed Knight of Pentacles figure, think about Matthew Crawley from Downton Abbey or Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood.

Questions for Self-Exploration:

  • What is my relationship with my work?
  • Does my work ethic need a tune-up?
  • Who in my life resembles the Knight of Pentacles upright/reversed? Why?
  • How do I embody the energy or personality of the Knight of Pentacles upright/reversed? What does that mean?
the sun, knight of pentacles and five of swords tarot cards in a reading
For extra practice, you could work out the meaning of this card combination. Image courtesy of life of HIMM-Wordpress.com.

Reading with the Knight of Pentacles

Instead of doing a hypothetical example for this section, we’re going to try a different approach. This time, find the Knight of Pentacles in your deck. Then meditate for a few minutes to clear your mind.

Shuffle your cards using your preferred method, and pull a card for each of the following questions (some are repeated from above):

  • How do I embody the energy of the Knight of Pentacles in a healthy way?
  • How do I embody the energy of the Knight of Pentacles in an unhealthy way?
  • How do I channel this energy to better serve myself?
  • How do I channel this energy to better serve my community?
  • What lesson can I learn from the Knight of Pentacles?
  • How do I incorporate this lesson into my life?

Write down your answers as thoroughly as you can. In your answers, include keywords and concepts from the guidebook, plus your own impressions of each card and any connections you feel with each card.

Then look at the cards overall. Do you have any repeating suits or symbols? That’s usually a sign of a connection to pay closer attention to-- same with any repeating numbers or numerical values (multiples of 2 or repeating 2’s may indicate decision or polarity while 3’s indicate cycles, for example). If you have any Major Arcana cards, you can read up on them in our “Interpreting Tarot” series so that you can work with them a bit more. If you have more than one Major Arcana card, that’s big energy and you should really dive deeper into it.

Step back and look at your cards again. What narrative are you seeing here? What message is trying to come through? If you see anything that confuses you, shuffle and draw a clarification card-- this will give you more information with which to interpret how a particular card works in the reading.

Another simple reading you can do for yourself to explore the Knight of Pentacles is to once again, pull it from your deck. This time when you shuffle, you’re going to pull three cards for Past, Present, and Future. This will give you further practice with building the narrative that the cards are trying to tell you by showing you how the Knight of Pentacles energy connects to your (you guessed it) past, present, and how it may in the future should all things continue as they are. This will also give you a taste of work with tarot for telling the future.

Feel free to leave notes on your progress in the comments section!

knight of pentacles art
How does the use of the color red and the perspective of the above version of the Knight of Pentacles affect your understanding of this card? Image courtesy of Seth Styles.

We hope this article has been helpful. Please check out the other articles in our “Interpreting Tarot” series. We have the Major Arcana, Kings, Queens, and the other Knights done. Look for the Pages, coming soon!

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Jean Linder

Jean Linder is a writer and photographer from Pittsburgh, PA.
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