Updated: Aug 30, 2021
I was working on some associations one Summer afternoon when the Ace of Pentacles caught my eye. Then more Pentacles. I put all other cards away and realised it was time to talk about the minor suits. Starting with the Pentacles.
Pentacles in Tarot (like all minor cards) will pop up to deliver an important message. They speak of everything tangible, material and visible: work, finances, family matters, progress and gains.
When in a negative position, reversed or under the influence of difficult cards such as the Devil or the Fool, the Pentacles often speak of greed, laziness, possessiveness, bad finances and poor management.
Today’s Pentacles correspond to the original medieval Coins and in a deck of playing cards, they would be Diamonds.
The Pentacles in Tarot form the 3rd minor suit. Wands being first and Cups second. This is important because the suits are directly linked to elements and seasons.
The Pentacles is the suit of Autumn and is governed by Earth. As a reminder, the minor suit seasonal order is as follows:
Wands are Spring & Fire
Cups are Summer & Water
Pentacles are Autumn & Earth
Swords are Winter & Air
The Pentacles are the cards of the harvest. They announce the rewards and literal benefits of your work. Will you get what you deserve or will you be surprised by an unexpected gain? The message of the Pentacles can be that simple and clear. And originally, it was mostly the role of the Coins in traditional Tarot decks.
Pentacles are linked to Earth signs and can indicate a reading about a Taurus, Capricorn or Virgo.
The Pentacles speak of your finances, material well being, home, properties and work.
In the Marseille tradition, the first level of reading the minor suits and especially the Coins, is based on numbers and size. The bigger the coins on the card, the bigger the reward. The Ace always being the maximum you could get.
It’s a very simplistic and yet efficient way to first approach the minor arcana.
Other symbolisms can then be added if relevant to the reading. The 2 of Coins would stand for a successful business partnership, the 5 of Coins for a financial imbalance, the 9 for stable and gradual income etc.
This is still the way many readers proceed in Europe.
Make no mistake, reading Pentacle cards, like all other cards, require that you pay attention to the neighbouring figures as well and understand the general symbolism of Tarot. But keeping things simple as you add layers to your readings is one of the best and safest way to learn.
With the rise of the RWS, other meanings have been added to the suit of Pentacles but the main characteristics remain the same.
See a simple tutorial for a money tarot reading here using only the suit of Pentacles.
Home and Family Affairs
Being the arcana that rules over everything material and money related, Pentacles are traditionally linked to the home. A good home is not necessarily a rich one, but one where the most important things are not missing.
A reading dominated by Pentacles is usually going to send messages directly linked to your home and your finances. But the message of the cards speak of the actual things in the home. It’s not about the feelings (Cups) or the conflicts (Swords) but the actual material situation.
It is therefore crucial that you understand the message of these cards to take some specific actions in case of a warning.
No pain no gain. It’s impossible to speak of finances and stability without looking at your work situation and skills.
The Coins and Pentacles complete the information given by the Wands in that sense. The Wands traditionally speak of your work and social environment. They reveal information and guidance about your behaviour, intentions and tendencies. They also indicate how you deal with power, success and challenges.
Pentacles look at the details, the quality and level of your work. For example, the 8 of Pentacles is the card of crafts and mastership. It is the card of those who spend time on repetitive tasks and truly learn to master a skill. The 3 of Pentacles speak of team work and collaborations.
So if your reading is mostly Wands and Pentacles, you are definitely looking at your career, personal growth and financial situation. If these are things that are on your mind, it can also be helpful to have a reading using these suits only (with or without the Major Arcana).