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Pithy Tarot meanings — Five of Pentacles

May 26, 2013

Pentacles 05 RWS2.0 Tarot eCardsFive of Pentacles:
“For better or for worse.”
I have heard that in the 19th century (pre-RWS), this card was called “the marriage” card. When I tell people that, they think the image on this card of poverty and destitution is a sad comment on marriage, but I think it reflects the wedding vow noted above.

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7 Comments
  1. I’ve heard this described as a marriage card before (I just remember the phrase, “Great for marriage, lousy for money” from an old podcast. Probably one of Leisa’s) I just grabbed my copy of the Great Etteilla, and card #73 (The five ounces) says “Lover on it”. I wonder if the 5 of pentacles as a poverty card came from the Golden Dawn tradition?

    • Yes, I think it was from the Golden Dawn, but I’m not sure of that. “Great for marriage, lousy for money” might have led to the modern “poverty” interpretation.

  2. Interesting. I guess the numerology of the 5 would be at the middle of the relationship turns to commitment…not the beginning as in the Ace.

  3. Susan Morrish permalink

    I had heard this before but seeing the comment with the picture bring it home – perhaps in modern terms, as we live in such a materialistic society, it means that when times get tough some get going.

  4. I think that this is a quite tongue in cheek perspective on this card. I can see the line of reasoning why it was called the marriage card. If we were to call it the marriage card we could take it further to signify a relationship which was outside the approval of the church. In those days it may have been someone married to a different religion or class.It may have also signified someone living together but not married.

    • Keep in mind that in the 19th century (i.e., pre-RWS), the image we now associate with this card was not yet created. That 19th C meaning (“the marriage card”) was associated with a Five of Coins card that was just 5 coin pips (for whatever reason) and NOT with that sad image we see today. Putting the two together (the 19th C. definition and the modern view) creates a sort of cognitive dissonance that led me to the pithy meaning noted. I find it to be a very comforting new way to view this card, and several people have told me that they do too. I certainly can also see how this can lead to the meanings you’ve noted: a relationship outside the approval of religious / social orthodoxy.

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