The 5 of Pentacles, although a contractive card, can ultimately guide us through great freedom and transcendence. Carrying the energy of Number 5, it can denote contraction or conflict within the material realm, as established by its suit and corresponding element, Earth. In practical terms, it has been said to point to health issues and fears, financial concerns, and poverty. It can also show we are feeling disconnected from our skills and in a contractive period in the way in which we build and tangibly create upon the world. In other words, trouble with the body, with money, or with work. However, the cards of the tarot all ultimately connect us to some divine truth or principle. Is the divine sick or broke? No. Spirit is perfect wellbeing and abundance. The medicine of the 5 of Pentacles is at once being present for the challenges that are inherent of living as incarnate beings on earth, and also transcending the material as the infinite beings that we partly are.
The 5’s have such sacred energy despite the often-difficult lessons that they bring. Number 5 connects us with the fifth element, pure Spirit. It causes us to undeniably face our reality in a way to spark a quickening of our awareness and an awakening to the Beyond. A Course in Miracles has a central tenet that is echoed in many of its lessons. It states that “I am not a body. I am free.” Now, I am not one to thoroughly indulge in spiritual views that completely detach us from and deny the body. In some ways, yes, we are the body. Much of our personality and behaviors are ingrained in our physicality and genetic and epigenetic predispositions. But we are also the ancient field of intention that brought us into being. Ken Wilber, in No Boundary, says that “the conditions for your existence are almost as old as the rocks.” The events that precipitated our birth are prehistoric, and we share in the I-am-ness of the whole universe. Our souls are a wave in the oceanic, cosmic Spirit. In that and in other senses, we predate our present existence, and we will go beyond it. Though this individual “I” will one day truly end, my energies and imprints will go on as the wind of all life.
We are spiritual entities encased in an earth suit, dealing with the dense rules and laws of this reality. Through our upbringing, conditions, and indoctrination, we are completely identified with the body. If our hand is hurt, we feel like our whole being is under threat. We derive our sense of security from our home, our money, and our work. When those are threatened or undergo contraction, we feel unsafe and vulnerable. The lessons of the 5 of Pentacles feel so primal because they touch upon some of the most basic levels of our hierarchy of needs. When our basic sense of wellbeing and security are absent and shaken, higher-order concerns such as belonging and self-actualization are kind of thrown out the door. Our very evolution comes to a halt or becomes stunted.
The Course states that “Freedom must be impossible as long as you perceive a body as yourself. The body is a limit. Who would seek for freedom in a body looks for it where it can not be found. The mind can be made free when it no longer sees itself as in a body, firmly tied to it and sheltered by its presence.”
Again, we are not talking about rejecting or subjugating the body, but simply transcending it: seeing that there is more to existence than the physical realm. Wilber explains that through this transcendence, the body becomes an instrument, not the essence. “As a person begins this creative detachment from the exclusive identification with the isolated organism, he in no way ceases caring for his organism.” [Pardon the gendered 70’s language]. “Actually, the reverse is the case. One becomes more caring and accepting of the mind and body. Since one is no longer bound by them, they no longer appear as a freedom-robbing prison. Thus the person’s energies are not frozen in a suppressed rage and hatred for his own organism. The organism as a whole becomes a perfectly accepted expression of the transpersonal self.”
Again, all 5’s denote a contraction. A contraction is a form of limit. Our natural tendency to expand encounters resistance, and we feel like shrinking. The 5 of Pentacles shows us the limitations of our impermanent body and the fluctuations of the material system. We encounter sickness. We feel out of touch with our body. We go through tough financial times. We feel the need to stop building, or we face outright loss. The medicine of 5 of Pentacles does not stop there: it invites us to connect with eternity as we deal with the finite. It causes us to include, and to be present for, the disease and loss; but also to transcend it and break free from exclusive identification with things that are impermanent.
Part of me is my body. Part of who I am here on earth is my skills and life structures that I share with the world. I honor that. I am present for the emotional difficulties, fears, and scary aspects that impermanence brings upon this realm. I am present for my pain, my suffering, my loss. But I know that I have been here long before this body was born, and the subtle aspects of my being will go on after I die. I love and honor my body and take care of it as an expression of the Divine. I love and honor my skills, finances, and tangible creations in this earth plane, again as expressions of Spirit. But I go beyond. The health of this body is not the ultimate arbiter of my peace of mind. My economic situation does not ultimately decide on my inner freedom. I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.