A young man has been tending a vineyard. Exhausted, he pauses to survey his work, and he rests his head on the handle of his rake. Six Pentacles are sprouting from the vine, while one sits at his feet.
The conventional interpretation of this card (quoting Paul Foster Case) is “Success unfulfilled,” but another meaning is easy to divine. Anyone who has ever raised a garden from scratch knows the joy of satisfaction when the garden no longer needs regular tending and becomes a self-sustaining organism. When this happens, we are entitled to pause to admire our handiwork. We fulfill the same role as parents, supporting and nurturing our children until they no longer need our care full-time and can fend for themselves. Put plainly, the Seven suggests “harvest time,” when the fruit is ripe on the vine (here, one has already ripened and fallen away) and we can reap the benefits of our labor. In that sense, the man’s work may still be “unfinished”—but his most arduous tasks are behind him, and now he can enjoy a rest before bringing in the harvest.
Psychologically, this represents the moment when we become aware of our tendency to engage in ego-projection, and we resolve to assume full responsibility for our thoughts and actions. We may still have our neuroses, but we no longer blame others for them, and they no longer imprison us in darkness as they once did. This is the “hard work” of psychotherapy, and when this breakthrough comes, it often produces strong waves of emotional relief within us. Releasing many years of negative energy can be an exhausting experience! Sevens in the Tarot correspond to Netzach, which in turn is governed by Venus, goddess of love. Here, our farmer is likewise showing some love for his handiwork by admiring the progress he’s made—and after all his hard work, he’s entitled!
In a sense, our farmer represents the psychological “flip side” to the merchant pictured in the Six. While the merchant may expend his resources as a means of control, the farmer expends his resources in order to eventually relinquish control—that his vineyard would one day be self-tending. So should it be for us, for all of the things of this world that we seek to control are, ultimately, meaningless distractions on our road to self-discovery.
Meanings of this card can include: Bountiful harvest, a job well done, rest after labor, self-realization, or contemplation; but also inertia, work incomplete, self-indulgence and sloth, or ego-projection. The work of balancing the psychic opposites is arduous, but if we continue to “tend the garden,” in the end we shall reap our reward.