Holding something back – Four of Pentacles

I’ve written before about the Four of Pentacles, along the very negative ‘greed, selfishness, materialism’ line. But I often find the card has a very different interpretation and I’ve grown quite fond of it recently.

Four of Pentacles by littlethunder

Four of Pentacles, by Little Thunder

The Four of Pentacles can warn us that it’s time to hold something back.

To count our pennies and watch the spending, say no to a few expensive nights out, or to stop being so generous with our time and other resources.

It’s a good card for someone who tries to help everyone else at work, then can’t manage their own tasks. Or someone volunteering for everything and then getting burnout (a bit like the Ten of Wands). And I can think of plenty of stereotypically ‘busy women’, always putting others before themeselves, negelecting themselves in the process, like the two sniffing mums in that awful Boots ad.

Woman saying 'why I'd be delighted to put my needs last again' Four of Pentacles

It’s also about realising what you hold dear, and protecting it.

In a recent reading, this card was suggesting the querent give higher value to her relationship and work to protect it against things that were threatening it.

In traditional images, the figure on the card sits solemnly with their pentacles, turning away from their city, home or community. Sometimes a bit of selfishness is good; we need to separate ourselves from our usual society and focus on looking after our precious resources.

An immediate application of this card would be Christmas shopping! We all want to give lovely presents to our friends and family, but as everyone knows, year on year we feel pressured to spend more money on bigger and better things. Maybe channelling a bit of the Four of Pentacles will help us to avoid going hopelessly overdrawn.

Another thing springing to mind relates to our health – as the weather goes from bad to worse it’s far to easy to neglect our own health.

So it’s not all misers and hoaders.

Whilst the Four of Pentacles often suggests someone is being selfish, conservative and greedy, there are times when it can provide a much-needed reminder to draw the things you love in close, batten down the hatches and look after number one for a bit. No matter what anyone else thinks.

PS In her comment below, Chloe refers to the Four of Earth in the Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert, so I’ve added it here:


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One comment

  1. Little Red says:

    Thanks for your comments Anna and Chloe! I love the image of the squirrel building her winter stores, so I’ve popped it in so people can see – a perfect image for this interpretation of the 4Ps. I like the ‘glass half empty’ thing too – a sort of halfway point between utter selfishness and necessary self-preservation. I guess the thing with this card is to ask ourselves why it has appeared – what behaviour is it warning against or trying to encourage? (But then obviously that’s the case for every card!!)

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