Reflections on The Queen of Pentacles

Q: What can I do or say today to make the world a better place for everyone?

A: This.QueenThis is the true Earth Mother of the Tarot court, and we honor her (and ourselves) whenever we do something that glorifies the Divine law of nature. This need not be complex and grandiose—it be could be something as simple as tending a garden, pulling some weeds or pruning the branches of an overgrown tree. It could be working with a charity that conducts a monthly cleanup in a neighborhood park, or volunteering as a tour guide at a nature preserve. It could involve advocacy work for nonprofit or religious groups that lobby for greater protection of environmental resources, or donating our time, labor or money to them. All of these things, each in its own way, upholds the Divine law, and helps to maintain the balance of nature and man’s place in it.

But Divine law is not only external, and we should not forget that it governs our inner nature as well. In this matter, we uphold the law when we share with others the great bounty that Mother Earth has been so generous to bestow unto us. We share this “mother’s love” when we adopt a pet from a rescue shelter, or when we volunteer our time to work at a homeless shelter, or to counsel recovering addicts at a rehab center. We share this love when we help to nurse a sick friend or relative to health, or when we extend gestures of mercy and sharing to people we barely know—and perhaps even dislike.

Think of the movie Babette’s Feast. In the film, a young woman fleeing bloodshed in post-revolution Paris shows up at the doorstep of an austere Christian order in a poor Danish fishing village. She offers to work for them as a housekeeper, but the dozen members of the order are unable to pay her, so she works for free in exchange for room and board. She spends the next 14 years in this fashion, cleaning clothes, mopping floors, and cooking bland meals in accordance with the order’s dietary requirements in a dour and dreary monastic climate. Her prize possession—in fact, her only possession, save the clothes on her back—is a lottery ticket that she brought with her from Paris; but over time, the woman learns to find a kind of quiet contentment in the routine of her new life as a servant, as well as in the eccentricities of her living companions.

One day, the woman discovers that she has won the lottery—a windfall of  10,000 francs, easily enough to return to her former home and resume the life she once knew. Instead, as a sign of gratitude, she decides to spend the money—all of it—on a lavish feast for the members of the order who had “taken her in” and adopted her so many years ago, when she had nowhere else to go. The members, though, have no idea that the woman has spent all of her winnings on a single meal. The group, abstemious and suspicious of luxury by nature, resists the idea of a sumptuous banquet at first but gradually relents to the lure of the sensual, and as the wine flows more freely, they come to “let their hair” down and give in to a spirit of celebration and camaraderie. This, in turn, brings them closer together and reminds them of the things they once had in common, and of the many blessings they still share.

During the dinner, one of the guests, who once worked in Paris, says that the meal reminds him of one he once had at a famous restaurant in that city, where a dinner for 12 cost 10,000 francs. At the end of the feast, the woman reveals that before fleeing Paris, she worked as the head chef at that very same restaurant, and that the meal the man mentioned provided her with the kind of “artistic inspiration” by which she chose to honor her hosts.

Learning that she has spent every sou of her lottery winnings, the members of the order are at a loss for words. How could she have spent herself into poverty like that when she could have used the money to return home? “An artist is never poor,” she replies, adding that she has no need to leave, for she has found her true home in the harmony of the order.

While the example of Babette, the film’s chef, may be a bit extreme, we should all be similarly willing to share our fortunes with others as best we can, and to express gratitude to others for the mercies that they ever have extended—however unknowingly and unwittingly—to us. Finally, we should remember that we too, like Babette, are never truly poor if we are willing to serve others, and that by giving, we likewise receive, and thus we fulfill our purpose on our Mother’s Earth as loving children of God. This is the Divine law of nature, in the world and in ourselves.

Dante DiMatteo

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