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(For a list of all card articles, open March 2008 on the sidebar).

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Six Of Pentacles

To take the things you do not need
and let them drop
and to walk away the taller,
to keep but one thing in your hand
to be straight-backed while others stoop:

This is power,
but power,
is not an easy thing to do.

The Six of Pentacles concerns the power of giving. It looks very sweet up there in the RWS, prospering enough to attract beggars, kind enough to be letting things go (far cry from the Four - though if you see this as a continuing dynamic, given what goes down in the Five it's more likely that the character in the Four is the receiver here than the giver).

But to experience the power of giving, first you need to have enough to give away - or to have the strength to give up everything (except, perhaps, the piece you still hold in your hand). Neither could come from nowhere. 'Fact, we could even go ask the Five of Swords how you came by them. Or we could go look how the patronage economy of, say, Renaissance Italy, really worked and see who could give and who could receive, and how that reinforced the existing social hierarchy.

[I later took another look at the Six of Pentacles and the power of giving, here, one that spoke more of the lasting presence a gift can have in someone else's life.]

If sevens tend to be caught in uncertainty, sixes tend to be pleasant on the surface, but hiding all sorts of ugly secrets about power underneath. Many Sixes of Pentacles feature a set of scales, or some other indication that balance is important; this one doesn't, but the idea's still there in my head. The giving here can redress a balance, but 'balance' is equally likely to wind up just leaving things the way they currently are, rather than producing a real change. There's a cool take on this theme in the Osho Zen, so I guess it's time for the picture part.

Images of the Six of Pentacles:

Compromise from the Osho Zen supposedly features a pair of eunuchs. In Three Kingdoms - a saga from China, rather than the land of Zen - the great moral message you're given, backed up by 2500+ pages of story, is 'Don't trust eunuchs, okay? Ever. Ever. Trusting eunuchs will make you fail'. Age-old suspicion of the gender-variant aside - this is about power and about how you negotiate with those who have it. 'Compromise' is a word that means 'giving away what you have, but trying to get more in return', which is the heart and soul of the Six of Pentacles. It's fine, it's a good trick to know, but what about the things you're not prepared to compromise? The things you won't trade away to the people who have power? If you're determined to compromise, how do you protect those things from these sinister men of power?

Here's the Intuitive card. See also the RWS, which isn't vastly different.

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