Queen of Pentacles: Gateway to Living Presence

Author and meditation teacher Tara Brach, in her book “True Refuge”, says that one of the best instructions she ever had for meditation practice was given to her by Thai Buddhist teacher Ajahn Buddhadasa: “Do not do anything that takes you away from your body.” Brach shares that “The body lives in the present. When you are aware of the body, you are connected with living presence-the one place where you can see reality, see what is actually happening. Awareness of the body is our gateway into the truth of what is.”

The Queen of Pentacles is a gateway to living presence, and its medicine is an indispensable part of our awakening to the true nature of each moment, and ultimately, of reality. Among other potent meanings, the Queen of Pentacles rules our body, our inner world as it relates to the material realm. This Queen invites us into a deepened connection with our physical selves. Practically, this could mean things like rekindling our physical wellbeing, health and engagement of body, mind and heart; ordering our home and physical environment; reconnecting with our skillsets and with our legacy in this world. In more metaphysical terms, this Queen’s invitation goes deeper, and reminds us of the importance of grounding our spirituality and transcending practices.

Brach goes on to retell the story of the Buddha’s awakening. After having neutralized Mara’s attacks upon his efforts to awaken—after having fought the demon of illusion—the Buddha face a last attack. This time, Mara asked what proof Gautama had of his compassion? How could he be sure his heart was awakened? Through these questions, Mara was attacking our very sense of worthiness. Gautama, instead of responding with a meditative technique, simply touched the earth, and asked that it bear witness to his compassion and to the truth of who he was. The earth, in a shattering roar, replied “I bear you witness!”

“In that instant of acknowledging his belong to the earth, Gautama became the Buddha—the awakened one—and was liberated”, Brach explains. “By claiming this living wholeness, he dissolved the final vestiges of the trance of separation.” The Queen of Pentacles is that touching of the earth that bears witness to our wholeness and worthiness. It shows us that on the path to awakening, our body comes along. The Queens in the tarot have a meditative, inner mastery to their reign. The Buddha didn’t have to do anything outside of himself when defending from Mara’s last attack, like perhaps a tarot King would do. He instead pointed to what was already in here, shining bright all along, yielding a power like a tarot Queen’s. Whether in the meditation cushion or in our everyday lives, when we awaken to the beauty and truth of every moment, the whole earth awakens alongside us, too.