5 of Pentacles

ask for assistance

Five shakes us out of four’s stability and asks us to confront + Pentacles represent navigating the material realm.

from Bohemian Gothic by Baba Studios

And so the centered position of the Five of Pentacles presents a challenge in the material world — of health, of home, of finances, of our spiritual path. The security we felt in the four is gone and this uncertainty is a reminder to not be afraid to ask for assistance or sanctuary when we need it. You can’t have it if you can’t ask for it.

It may also convey a sense of being outcast or unwelcomed, and we may note that there are often comrades shown, signifying the aid of another — perhaps in a caretaking role. Inherent in many depictions of this card is that true refuge is spiritual, not material, and we may consider those in need of asylum. Social injustices and inequalities must be confronted, and this card may point to that work.

In resistance, we simply refuse to ask for assistance or connect with our higher source of power or path.

In excess, we identify with poverty or lack mentality (e.g., ‘the starving artist’). This card is a reminder to change the unconscious programming of viewing life through the lens of lack. Expecting it begets it.

Questions to consider when this card comes up may include

  • How are your needs being met? Are you lacking in some area and what can you do to secure it?
  • Is there a resource you may be overlooking even though it’s right under your nose — or are too proud to approach?
  • Is there someone who needs your help? Are you in a caretaking role, or see yourself as always taking that on?
  • Are you in search of a spiritual community?
  • Do you hesitate to ask for what you want or need? Why?
  • Do you identify with lack mentality? What parts drive that thinking?

What else? There are different aspects of this card, and you may have a different perspective. How has it come up for you? Feel free to share your insights.

5 of Swords

take responsibility for your actions

Five brings confrontation + Swords relate it to the mental realm.

from Touchstone Tarot by Kat Black

And so the Five of Swords asks us what we must confront. The Smith-Waite card shows victory at the expense of others — or a hostile defeat; and reminds us that ethics and conscience fall under airy Swords’ umbrella. Has there been an outwitting? Like a few other cards, it offers the querent the choice of which side they see themselves in (are they the victor or the victim?). The victor here appears selfish and unfair; the others sabotaged and degraded. Gore Vidal said it best with “It’s not enough to succeed; others must fail.” A sense of one-upmanship prevails throughout various interpretations.

I often like to see swords in the imagery as literally representing beliefs, and if we consider this card strictly in this context, it may indicate divisiveness, intolerance of those with different beliefs (or outsiders), arrogance, having the last word, or isolation due to an uncompromising attitude.

This card illustrates a clear power struggle (dominance vs submission). Where do you see yourself in this scenario?

in resistance, we avoid confrontation (which can sometimes lead to passive-aggressive acts). We may have a pattern of conceding to defeat, perhaps with self-pity. Are there times when you could be more assertive? There is integrity in taking personal responsibility and, as Lindsay Mack says, we can either drop into shame, guilt, and excuses or we can recenter and move on.  Sometimes we just need to get ourselves another sword.

Similar to the Five of Wands, we may also refuse to participate in or engage the behavior. In Swords, this may serve as a reminder to choose your battles wisely.

In excess, we should ask if we’re acting with the arrogant traits of the bully. Must we always get the better of others? Take responsibility and make amends if we have hurt others.

Questions to consider when this card comes up may include

  • What must you confront?
  • Is something so important to you that you must prove others wrong?
  • Is there a situation that you could have handled better? Is there some guilt around this? Is there someone to whom you could make amends?
  • What is the ethical thing to do in this situation?
  • Are you conflict-averse? Where did this originate? What parts enable this?
  • Have you adopted a defeatist attitude?
  • Are you always the victim?

There’s lot going on in this card, and more to uncover. How do you see it? How has it come up for you? Feel free to share your own insights.

5 of Cups

move through grief at your own pace

Five confronts + Cups relates to our emotional life

from Art History Tarot of Past Lives

And so, in its centered position on the spectrum, the Five of Cups invites us to confront our grief. The watery Cups long for meaningful connection, but are faced with sorrow and disappointment from something expected. We may be grieving and having a hard time letting go, but we must sit with it. We know intellectually that the pain will subside over time, and others may be telling us to put it behind us or to focus on the two remaining cups, but it’s all we feel right now and it’s valid. We must process our grief at our own pace.

In resistance, we may not be dealing with our grief at all. For so many of us, it’s easier to just ignore and repress.

In excess, we’re unable to move on, stuck in regret and failure and isolation, perhaps blaming ourselves for past loss. Or, we just expect pain and disappointment with a brooding contempt for love and relationships.

Questions we may consider when this card comes up include

  • What do you need to grieve? Can you give yourself the permission you need to do so?
  • Are ghosts from your past influencing current decisions? What parts are involved in that?
  • Are you focusing more on what you have, or what you’ve lost?
  • What chapter needs to close in your life? What can you do to welcome a new one?
  • Has your (or a part’s) mode of relating to others left you in isolation?
  • Do you default to self-recrimination, blaming yourself when outcomes have resulted in loss?

What else? These questions are by no means comprehensive but a way to get us started in thinking about the card’s many layered ways of fostering awareness and growth. How do you see it? How has it come up for you?