Ah summer, when a young girl’s thoughts turn to freaking the fuck out because why are there no apartments available except for the ones that are somehow 700 square feet and ten dollars a foot. Ah, what a beautiful time. Ah, the crippling fear of Craigslisting a roommate. I digress, but again, my column and I get to choose the cards, so I just wanted to give you a little insight into what’s in my head/why I picked this one. So! Here we go.
Pentacles are such a frustrating suit. It’s either “You’ve made it! Don’t worry, here’s some money!” or “You’re ruined forever, bye!” There seems to be no in between. The Five of Pentacles is no exception, and unfortunately, it’s one of the depressing ones.
You’re screwed up and brilliant, look like a million dollar man
So why is my heart broke
-“Million Dollar Man“, Lana del Rey
The Five of Pentacles is about a loss, a financial blow that knocks you off your feet, but it’s more about the devastating consequences that such a loss can have. We live in a world where your worth is tied to selling your labor, and it’s hard to shake the internalized mindset of, like, I don’t make a lot of money and therefore I am worthless. A loss like the Five of Pentacles indicates – loss of a job, illness that prevented you from work, unexpected huge expenditures – that can be such a difficult thing to recover from, not only financially but emotionally. When everything in this world costs money, including simple, basic survival, it’s impossible not to feel crushed by the weight of not enough, never enough. The slightest financial misstep – what the people who have more money don’t understand – can throw your whole world completely out of balance, because there is just no margin for error. No wiggle room. So the Five of Pentacles is this devastating loss, and then it has the nerve to tell you the next thing.
The Five of Pentacles indicates that you may have an unhealthy relationship with money. (Pause for laughter) It indicates that you may be placing too much emphasis on the money you have or don’t have, and what that means about you as a person, and that you are essentially stunting your inner growth by fixating on this external concern. So what this means is that unless you are the richest person in the world, or one of them, the Five of Pentacles is always gonna be true for you. Like, wow, card, I’m stressed about money? What a novel, previously unrealized idea. Let me get to work fixing that. But listen, and I’m writing this as much for myself as I am for you – the Five of Pentacles is an indicator that something is really wrong. Like, okay, you’re always stressed about money. Yes, and. But that’s a baseline all the same, even if it’s a shitty one, and the Five of Pentacles means you’re not even holding it together there, on that level. What this card is trying to keep you from doing is losing faith in yourself, which is easy at the best of times and damn near inevitable when something like this occurs. Self-blame is common in financial loss, and while there may be some truth to it – for instance, I personally have racked up hilarious amounts of credit card debt – there is a point at which it becomes unproductive rather than motivating. Like, yes, I have to pay off these bills and I shouldn’t have opened ANOTHER card on top of the ones I have, bad Aly, but I am not a fundamentally worthless human being because of that. It’s a hard thing to remind yourself, but that’s why the cards exist. Tarot cards, not credit cards.
I wanna be rich and I want lots of money
I don’t care about clever, I don’t care about funny
and I am a weapon of massive consumption
and it’s not my fault, it’s how I’m programmed to function
-“The Fear“, Lily Allen
Essentially, the Five of Pentacles is telling you to reexamine your relationship to the loss you’ve had, to your financial worries. They are daunting, yes, but they shouldn’t be paralyzing. They shouldn’t make you doubt your personhood, or hate yourself, or think that you don’t deserve help. That’s the other part of the Five of Pentacles, the part that can be really difficult to face – there is a light somewhere, a small glimmer of hope, even in the darkness of this current situation. It may not be the one you want – for instance, I may have to live with a WEIRD STRANGER – but it is nonetheless a solution, a small measure of success in the face of a larger and more intractable difficulty. By the same token, there is also the potential here for personal growth, which is a kind of success as well. If I ever climb out of this hole of debt I will have learned so much about myself as a person, as someone with a hair-trigger for stress-buying crystals and shoes and Japanese candy, and I will know better. You know what I mean? This horrible situation is going to teach me how to budget better, and that sucks, and it doesn’t mean I’m not still going to be poor as all hell, but it is something out of nothing, out of less than nothing. The Five of Pentacles is about steps forward, even if they are tiny, tiny steps. It’s about getting yourself out of a place where all you can do is blame yourself and suffer and be afraid. Financial worries are very isolating, because of these terrible feelings of self-loathing and shame and general badness, and it’s easy to make yourself feel worse in this situation by denying yourself the comfort of others. You deserve support, no matter how you got into your present dilemma, and that is the most important thing, the silver lining in the cloud that is the Five of Pentacles. You are not your money, or lack thereof. Your worth as a person is not derived from your ability to earn, no matter how much our society insists on telling you that. This card is a reminder that no matter the situation you’re in, you still deserve support and comfort from yourself and from those around you.