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The Meaning of
the "Five of Pentacles" Tarot Card

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What is the inverted meaning of
the "Five of Pentacles"?

The Meaning of the "Five of Pentacles"
Tarot Card

The Symbolism of the Five of Pentacles

A poor, decrepit couple wanders past the beautiful stained glass window of a church during a snowstorm.

A tall woman slouches forward wearing a thin shawl over her head. Behind her, a shorter man suffering from leprosy walks on crutches. His left foot appears to be bound.

The church window is lit from within, suggesting vespers or an evening service — possibly Christmas Eve.

The couple is dejected and downtrodden. Both have minimal foot covering and walk through deep snow. They will surely perish if they do not get aid.

NOTE: Some readers ask how we know the crippled man on the Five of Pentacles is a leper. The clue lies with the bell worn around his neck. In the Middle Ages, lepers were required to wear leper bells. The bells served a dual purpose of isolating the lepers through social distancing, and attracting donations and charitable gifts.

How to Interpret the Five of Pentacles

The Five of Pentacles is one of the darker cards in the entire tarot deck. It depicts crushing poverty, financial hardship, illness and loss.

The impoverished couple is, it would seem, just steps away from light, and warmth and love. But they do not feel it.

Perhaps even harsher than the poverty and health problems depicted on the card is the painful contrast with the opulence of the glass window: The impoverished couple is, it would seem, just steps away from light, and warmth and love. But they do not feel it.

When the Five of Pentacles appears it sends a mixed message — One which is partially positive: The first and already discussed message is one of hardship and pain. But the second, and more hopeful message is that help may be nearby.

The suggestion here is that help comes to those who ask for it — or as the saying goes: "The squeaky wheel gets the oil".

If you're in need, help may not find you. You may need to show some initiative to reach the help you need.

The Five of Pentacles Inverted

The reversed Five of Pentacles typically means that new growth is happening after a period of stillness. Difficult times are drawing to a close, and a period of financial hardship may be ending.

New growth is referenced here as is a return to physical health.

While the subject matter of the Five of Pentacles card may be negative, the inverted position often references positive concepts like exercise and fitness. For example, it may reference a time of losing weight, quitting smoking or ridding oneself of a negative habit or addiction.

It's generally a positive sign that a time of beneficial change has begun

When the reversed Five of Pentacles appears in a reading, it's generally a positive sign that a time of beneficial change has begun. But also consider that change never happens on its own: A personal dedication and commitment to making change happen is usually required.

Ask yourself if you are spiritually and emotionally open to change, and willing to commit to positive growth.

Common Symbols Found On the Five of Pentacles Card

Tarot cards often use a a symbolic language to illustrate additional information about each card. The Five of Pentacles makes use of at least two common, repeating Tarot symbols. Each of these common symbols can add additional levels of interpretation to the card.

The symbols which appear on the Five of Pentacles card are:

  • Couples

    Couples symbolism appears on the Five of Pentacles card:

    Traditional couples are a frequent symbol appearing on Tarot cards of both the Major and Minor Arcana. When appearing in Minor Arcana cards, couples are a generally (but not always) positive symbol — associated with ideas from growth and happiness, to prosperity and security.

    NOTE: Even though most of the Minor Arcana "couple" representations contain positive meanings, the 5 of Pentacles is an exception. The couple pictured here is ravaged by disease and poverty. While the image is frightening and negative, the light emanating from the window suggests that help may in fact be close by.

    Read more about the symbolism of "Couples" in Tarot  

  • Night

    Night symbolism appears on the Five of Pentacles card:

    In the same way that our vision is better during the daytime than it is in the night, cards which depict a dark, or nighttime scene typically share a some connection to the unknown or mystery. The degree of darkness in "nighttime" Tarot cards can vary significantly. Some "night" cards feature pitch-black scenes, while others depict an evening setting or a scene lit by moonlight.

    Read more about the symbolism of "Night" in Tarot  

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