A sovereign resplendent in a robe embroidered in a pattern of grapes on the vine sits perched on a throne adorned with ram’s heads. His right hand holds a scepter, his left hand a Pentacle. All around him, lush vegetation blooms, and a magnificent city rises behind him in the distance. His left foot, exposed, reveals that he is clad in armor, and his left foot rests on the head of a demon.
The King of Pentacles represents the “fiery” element of earth: The element that is the most transformative, the most purifying and—potentially—the most destructive. These qualities of the King are made manifest in many ways: He can delight us with a bountiful harvest, with the wine of celebration and communion that can intoxicate as well as sanctify; he can awe us with the many forms he takes—forests and seashores, canyons and gorges, mesas and plains; and he can unleash his own “demons” upon us—earthquakes, mudslides, and volcanic eruptions. His kingdom, at heart, is an abundance of riches, and this is why this card is often associated with people who work in the business or financial fields.
The King of Pentacles is attributed to the astrological sign of Virgo the Virgin, sign of mutable earth. Writing on Virgo, Paul Foster Case notes that the sign of the virgin is said to rule the intestines, where digestion is completed and waste matter is expunged from the body. The dual energies that activate this process produce what he calls “First Matter:” the “virgin’s milk” that is re-assimilated into the body, and the “putrefaction symbolized by a black dragon . . . the vilest thing on earth.” This is signified by the primitive life-force trapped under the Kings boot: A thing of waste, a spreader of disease and pestilence; its only use to man is buried underground, where it fertilizes the soil for planting. Lucky for us the King has dominion over the beast, ere it could be unleashed upon the world!
On the subject, now would be a good time to ask ourselves whose side we are on in this life: The King’s, or the beast’s? All too often, our actions speak more truly than our words, for while we all claim to love nature, all too often we have done everything we can to do the beast’s work for him. As we conclude this survey of the Great 78, let us assert our own kingship and summon the courage to do what is right for the world, and for ourselves. We have all come here from another place, and to another place we shall eventually depart. But as stewards of God’s Creation, we have a solemn duty to treat each waking moment of the day as if we are walking in the temple of God.
Meanings of this card can include: Wealth, success, material gain, kingship in all its aspects, wise rule, and concretely, a older man born under an earth sign; but also misrule, misfortune, sudden disruption, or even the collapse of the social order. As the King symbolizes mastery over all things, we too should realize the control we have over our who lives. If ever we feel lost or helpless in any way, it is a misperception of ours, not the sign of a cruel world.