Image courtesy of Soul Cards.
Sometimes referred to as the “Coins” suit, the Pentacles are a symbol of the element Earth. As such, this suit is directly tied to the physical realm of health, wealth, and the natural world. Think of this as an agricultural and career suit-- farmers raised crops that raised profits for themselves and the kingdom, as well as kept everyone in good health, including the doctor.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the Ace of Pentacles:
Let’s flip this coin heads-up and dive in.
In this section, we’ll cover the meaning and message of the Ace of Pentacles, both right side-up and reversed.
We’ll start with reading the Ace of Pentacles upright. All aces capture the “essence” of a suit, and the Pentacles are no different. Aces are also the first card in the arcana suit, so they are always a “beginning” or opportunity card. The upright Ace of Pentacles means that something new is brewing the material realm for you, likely health or wealth. You will generally know which it is-- health or wealth-- by the question you have asked.
The Ace of Pentacles or Coins is a nudge forward-- a prompt or a shove, even-- just like The Fool, only on a more targeted and specific path related to that suit’s element or realm. Additionally, unlike The Fool, the Ace of Pentacles is a marker on the path, not the querent themselves or an archetypal life situation. Whereas The Fool says to jump, the Ace of Pentacles indicates something far more mundane-- the magick of everyday life, the real and tangible world in which we live and work-- an opportunity with real results that are practical and, generally speaking, predictable.
There is a practicality to the Ace of Pentacles that is missing from The Fool and its journey-- a groundedness and trust that is not blind. In a love reading, the Ace of Pentacles most likely indicates something profound but earthy-- it could be financial, but it could also be sexy. It could also refer to the health of the relationship itself, or the effect of navigating the relationship upon the querent. Check the other cards and the position that the Ace of Pentacles occupies in the reading to make certain.
Reversed, the Ace of Pentacles can simply indicate a blockage, either internal or external, within the material realm. A reversed Ace of Pentacles can also mean an obsession with physical things, or a hypochondriac in terms of health, or someone who is in denial and avoiding dealing with important matters of the material realm. Lastly, it could also mean a reverse of fortunes-- job loss, illness, neglect-- although again, to determine the meaning, look at the other cards in the reading and the position that the reversed Ace of Pentacles occupies.
When you are becoming a tarot reader-- or if you’re an experienced reader looking to deepen your practice-- it’s worth it to take the time to develop a relationship with each card in the deck. The more you know about each card on several different levels, the sharper your intuition in reading and interpreting the card in relation to other cards and the question will become. This means keeping a tarot journal full of research and explorations of each card.
Let’s start, as we usually do, with the artwork. The traditional Rider-Waite-Smith artwork echoes the artwork of the other Aces with a hand reaching out of a cloud. It is holding a single golden pentacle, as it is the first card in the suit (subsequent cards will feature the same number of pentacles as the number of the card). Below, a garden grows, surrounded by a hedgerow, which has been skillfully wrought into both a boundary and a gateway.
The golden pentacle is a coin, promising prosperity and wealth. One question to ask yourself-- and to research-- is how does your understanding of and relationship with the card change if you see it as a pentacle OR a coin? Remember, some decks call this the Coins suit and not the Pentacles suit, and the Pentacle is a symbol itself. What does the golden color represent? What else about the artwork connects to the idea of wealth?
All Aces have the hand holding their symbol stemming from a cloud. This generally suggests a sort of divine influence or ruling over the proceedings-- in this case, it could be divine timing or fate. The fact that the garden-- the literal earth-- is situated below the celestial sphere reinforces the idea that man was put on the earth as its master and caretaker. The caretaker aspect is symbolized by the lush plants but the mastery is suggested by the hedgerow’s carefully curated shape (it does not naturally grow into a doorway). What else about the artwork suggests man’s sovereignty over the land?
And what about this card’s artwork suggests the idea of “health?”
Given the artwork and themes of the Ace of Pentacles, we also suggest reading up on myths, legends, and folklore surrounding pentacles, gardens, coins, and health. Some good places to start are Genesis (Garden of Eden), the Gardens of Babylon, the Irish Leprechaun gold, and Fisherking legend in the Arthurian saga. Two excellent resources are The Sacred Text Internet Archive and Endicott Studio’s Journal of the Mythic Arts, the latter is no longer updated. Joseph Campbell is excellent higher-level reading and thinking about myths in general.
Each tarot card also calls upon us to do some self-examination, which deepens our connection to each card’s message and meaning. Some questions for the Ace of Pentacles include, but are not limited to:
Now that you’ve had some time to read about the Ace of Pentacles and gotten to know it better, let’s practice interpreting it in a reading.
In our scenario, Maria needs some general advice. She’s been feeling discontented lately, even though she has a pretty good life. She just feels a bit stalled out and bored. So she asks the cards: “What do I need to know?”
She pulls the 4 of Cups, the 2 of Swords, and the Ace of Pentacles.
First, check to make sure that you know what each card means. The 4 of Cups generally means apathy or boredom, and the 2 of Swords is essentially a hard decision. The Ace of Pentacles meaning was discussed above.
Next, pair each card meaning with an element of the question. The 4 of Cups is a feeling, and seems to be accurate to what Maria is experiencing. The 2 of Cups is probably the reason why she’s feeling like this-- she doesn’t know what to do.
So how does the Ace of Pentacles fit into the equation? Pentacles are the material realm and Aces are beginnings. To put it simplistically, she may need a change or a new opportunity in her career sector. If Maria intuitively feels that there’s more to it than that, she may draw a clarification card.
Perhaps she draws The Hierophant, the card of mentorship and education. This indicates fairly directly that Maria is at a huge turning point where she should consider finding a mentor to help guide her to the next step in her career, or that she may need to go back and take a few classes that would snag her a promotion or a better job in her field. It might even be bigger than that-- perhaps Maria should go back to school completely and start all over-- but something that huge might require another reading. Maria will know which is the right path for her.
So here’s your homework (aside from the research and tarot journaling from above): first, comment below if you agree with the interpretation above, or if you disagree, what your answers are. Secondly, comment how would the reading change if the Ace of Pentacles was reversed. Thirdly, consider how the reading would-- or wouldn’t-- change if the card layout was Past, Present, Future. Remember that the position of the cards in the reading also affects how they are interpreted in relationship to the question. We look forward to reading your ideas!