Reflections on The Six of Pentacles

From today’s one-card reading . . .

Q: What can I do to be a positive agent of change today?

A: This.


Restating the obvious, certainly, but it’s always a good lesson to learn anew.

We can look at this card two ways: First, through the eyes of the successful merchant who shares his fortune with two indigents—and given his upright posture, as opposed to the beggars who kneel, as well as his central position in the image, it’s safe to suggest that this was how the card’s creators intended us to “read” it. While it’s a virtue indeed to share one’s good fortune with others in need, we should be be mindful of feelings of haughtiness or superiority creeping into our lives—to avoid “looking down” on others whose material station is not as prosperous as ours. There but for the grace of God, after all, we could just as equally be indigents tomorrow. In a similar vein, we must make sure our generosity does not come with any conditions or “strings attached,” as symbolized by the scales the merchant dangles to measure out his giving. We, by contrast, are advised not to bless our brothers but seven times, but seventy times seven!

The other way to read the card, of course, is from the viewpoint of the beggars pleading for alms. We have all experienced times in our lives when we have needed help—whether material or emotional—and eventually, we must reach a stage in our lives when we realize that nobody can pass through this existence entirely on his own, that we are all interconnected pieces of a universal mind, and that we are all dependent upon each other to earn our salvation, beggar and merchant alike. See the arrangement of the figures in this image—one above, two below, forming a trinity of sorts—and think of other trinitarian representations in art, most famously this fresco by Masaccio at the church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence:

Masaccio,_trinitàAs an aside, the inscription above the tomb reads: As I was, so you are; as I am, so you will be. Once again, a caution against the sins of arrogance and pride, and a reminder of the interconnectedness of all things, of all that ever was and all that will ever be.

From Deuteronomy to Matthew, the Scriptures instruct us to love our neighbors as we would love our Selves, and until we acknowledge this and enter into that “upper room” of consciousness, we can never live contented and fully individuated lives; separation from humanity is equivalent to separation from God. When that awareness comes, however, we exalt ourselves in the eyes of Heaven by humbling ourselves before others here on earth, and by expressing our gratitude for the counsel and aid of others. We must never take acts of kindness for granted!

Dante DiMatteo

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