Reflections on the Two of Pentacles

As with many of you, the past few years for me have been a time of profound change and transition on many levels—emotional, intellectual, material and spiritual: Some developments have been for the better, and others less so. In such a state of flux, it is easy to grow confused about the direction our lives are, or should be, taking. Every day seems like there’s a new fork in the road for us to choose, or a new detour we need to navigate, all the while wondering whether we’ve picked the right road—if only someone would make our paths straight!

This morning’s ten-card Tree of Life spread was like that, a confusing swirl of “psychic crosstalk” that was, literally, all over the archetypal map: The Nine of Swords paired with the Three of Cups, The Ace of Pentacles influencing the Three of Swords, and the Five of Cups in the heart of the spread. What a mess! So gathering up the cards, I closed my eyes and silently asked, “What would you have me do today?” I reshuffled the cards, and this is what turned up:

II As someone whose life has recently known its share of choppy seas, and whose life as a freelance writer has been a juggling act of sorts, this card spoke to me immediately. As its image implies, it reflects a state of material equilibrium (“The Lord of Harmonious Balance,” as Aleister Crowley eloquently described it): a material juggling act we must all perform if we are to likewise maintain balance in our spiritual lives—and as our juggler here shows by his studious countenance and by his dancing, which implies movement, this is serious work that requires physical as well as spiritual effort.

Many times we think that our material decisions, or our material station in life, don’t really affect our psychic health, but they most certainly do! Money may not “buy” happiness in the strict sense, but statistical studies have shown, time and again, that people who live in poverty are more prone to sickness and suicide, and live less longer than the more affluent. We can also make poor decisions regarding the material matter we put into our own bodies—food, drink and drugs. Sometimes this can be due to depression, anxiety, or addictive tendencies that can be addressed via therapy or so-called “recovery” programs;  but other times these decisions can be driven by a lack of material resources. Many people eat junk food because they can’t afford anything better!

The Two, then, counsels us to be mindful of our bodies as well as our finances—and anyone who has ever had to “juggle” a checkbook or a payroll knows how demanding the work can be. The card also reminds us that this balancing act never really ends in any plane of our existence—as signified by the strap the juggler uses to locate his coins; it is shaped like a lemniscate, the esoteric symbol of eternity.

Just as our quest for spiritual self-awareness is an ongoing process of ebbs and flows—signified by the waves on the waters roiling behind our juggler—so too with our physical lives on earth. We should never really want to “grow up” completely, even after we have reached adulthood—that is, if we want to make the most of our time on earth. The seriousness we attribute to adulthood should be tempered by the playfulness we feel as youths. If either characteristic comes to dominate our conscious lives—and this happens to nearly all adults at one point or another—we lose valuable perspective on what it means to be human: When the material weight of the world seems to be pressing down upon our psyches, we should pause to take a deep breath, remind ourselves that we should “be as little children,” and visualize ourselves entering into the kingdom of heaven.

Dante DiMatteo

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