Main image courtesy of Medium.
As you progress in your tarot study, you’re going to eventually come across the six of pentacles. This card is a part of the pentacles/coins suit, which is one of the four suits that make up the minor arcana cards (sometimes called pip cards). While you may be familiar with the Rider Waite Smith image, do you understand the meaning of this interesting card? There’s a lot more going on than what meets the eye, so keep reading because we’re going to discuss:
Before we dive into the deeper meaning behind the six of pentacles, let’s back up and examine what the pentacles suit is connected to first. This is the suit that corresponds to the element of earth, and is traditionally seen as coins or discs with pentacles on them. Because this suit has the grounding energy of earth behind it, it is also associated with finances, our physical health, our careers, and anything related to our outer world such as our homes. Pentacles offer us stable, grounding energy and correspond to the northern direction.
Because the entire suit is associated with earth, its astrological signs are earthly as well and include:
When you know someone who is (or you yourself are) one of these signs, you know that as earth signs, are also associated with stable, reliable, and confident energy. This is exactly what pentacles bring to a tarot reading.
Adding in another layer is the numerological aspect of the tarot. Not only do you have an elemental part of the card (earth), but its number (or title when it comes to the court cards) can also have a profound effect on the energy and message given through a card. In this case, we’re dealing with a six, which can be considered the halfway, or high point, of the journey through the pentacles. The start of the story begins with the ace of pentacles that brings new opportunities and a fresh start, and ends with culmination of the suit with the 10, which is the result of what was completed in the nine.
When doing readings for yourself or others, it’s helpful to think of the card as a part of an ongoing story, and not just an isolated image. Think about the card that came before and came after it, so in this case, the five and the seven of pentacles. When you’re open to seeing a card as just one part of the journey, it’s easier to see what the cards as whole are guiding you towards.
The sixes in the tarot are the result of the challenges of the fives, and promote cooperation, balance, union, equanimity, equalization, harmony, and assistance among other attributes. Couple this with the physical and material that are at the core of the pentacles suit, and you can gain a lot of insight into what the card is telling you.
Now that we know a little more about the sixes and the pentacles suit, we can specifically look at the six of pentacles. On the RWS card, we see a well-dressed man who is giving alms out to two figures on their knees. They are shabbily dressed, and it appears he is offering them money to help them. He holds the scales in his left hand, which reminds us of the Justice major arcana card. He appears to genuinely want to assist people who are not as well off as himself, and there is a sense that he is grateful for what he has, and that he is able to share his wealth with others.
We also get the sense that he is aware the scales of fortune can shift at any moment, and he may one day be in the position that the figures on their knees are. This is why it’s important to him to pay it forward. Perhaps someone helped him out at one time and allowed him to get on his feet again—literally and figuratively. This man understands that we receive back what we put out into the universe, and when we choose to put kindness out there, we’ll be rewarded with kindness in return.
The scales aren’t the only thing that remind us of the Justice card, his red robe and purple flap on his hat are reminiscent of the red robe and purple background in that card. Thinking about the pentacles in particular, it would seem that this card is reminding you that you reap what you sow, and that you will ultimately need to be responsible for your actions.
If you look closely, the six of pentacles is what is often referred to as a stage card. These are cards sprinkled throughout the deck that have two horizontal lines going across the bottom that seem to denote a screen or a curtain. This leads some tarot readers to use the term stage card, as what is going on in the image might be more metaphorical than literal. So we look at the six of pentacles in this light, we no longer just see a rich man giving to the poor as they would in centuries past.
Instead we see that this action depicted in the card could apply to anything in the realm of the pentacles (health, wellness, career, finances, our body) that is trying to get our attention. Seeing this as a stage card opens our minds and makes this card much more applicable into our own lives.
Pro tip: You can also take the meaning of this card quite literally, especially if there’s a cause or charity near and dear to your heart. If you can make a donation of your time or money, that’s a great way to put good out, and get good in return. As a tarot reader, just follow what your heart and initiation are telling you.
When you see the six of pentacles upright in a reading think about:
Depending on your question, there are many ways to interrupt why this card is appearing in your reading. Do you need to balance taking care of yourself and others? Do you need to work up a more sustainable budget for your lifestyle? Or perhaps it’s time to share your time, money, or energy with someone who really needs it?
If you do reversals, you know that they don’t necessarily mean the opposite of the upright. Oftentimes reversals are showing us where we’re blocked or if energy we’re putting out is misdirected or insufficient. Reversals of any card offer us the chance to stop and take notice of where our energy is, and where we’re directing it. A six of pentacles reversal could be a sign that we need to take a step back from caring for others and start putting our self care first.
Sometimes we want to give more than we can afford, either with money or energy. If a reverse of the six of pentacles arrives, you may be overcommitting. Make sure you can take care of yourself (physically, materially, energetically) before you commit to helping others. When you are in a good place and your cup is full, then you can start helping others.
Let’s see what it’s like to do a reading with the six of pentacles and other cards. We like to do the traditional three card spread, but you can try out any spread you like! Shuffle the cards and spend a minute slowly breathing as you clear your mind and open your heart. Let’s say you ask your daily question, “what does the universe need me to know right now for my mind, body, and spirit?” Then pull your three cards.
Look at the images on all three cards. Take note of their similarities and differences. The two of wands is letting you know you have a choice of where you want to focus your mind today. You can set your sights on lofty goals, but make sure you set smaller, more reachable goals that will keep you grounded with your eyes on the prize. The six of pentacles is letting you know this is a good time to find balance with all aspects of your health, so do something today that’s physical and active for your body. And the Hermit has shown up to ask you to go inward, if only for a little while, to connect to your spirit. That might mean deep breathing, meditation, walking in nature, or sitting quietly. Turn off the outside world and spend some time in your inner world.
The six of pentacles is a fascinating card that has a lot to tell you. Listen to your inner voice to see what this pentacle card is trying to tell you.