The general public has been taught to be thrilled and or scared by the Death card and to a lesser extent the Tower.  These are harbingers of powerful changes and transformations having just passed, in process, or heading their way.  However, there are other cards which are far more prosaic and more problematic.  The Four of Pentacles is one that shows up regularly and tends to trip people up.

04-four-of-pentaclesI tend to see the Four of Cups and the Four of Pentacles in terms of 2 year olds.  The cups is what happens when you try to get a a 2 year old to eat/drink something they don’t want or to do something they don’t want.  You get the bitter beer face and the “nuh-uh” response, with crossed arms and hunched shoulders.  The pentacles is the opposite.  It’s when the 2 year old has something that they won’t give up.  Even though there are better things, even though they can’t use what they have, even though they would be so much happier if they just put it down so they can receive so much more, they won’t.  They grip whatever it is they have in their hands so tight they can’t think about anything else.  They grip ’til their knuckles are white and their hands are getting cut up from the pressure.  They grip until there is nothing else but them and that thing.

I see this in spiritual community.  People who have a need to fill, a lack of some kind, an imbalance in their regular life go looking for that one thing that makes them special or unique.  Like a superhero discovering their special power they are looking to find what defines them, makes them special, gives them a reason and a calling and a direct path.  Ignoring the fact that all superheroes are riddled with self-doubt, rarely have clear paths, are constantly dealing with heartbreak and failed relationships and partial successes that lead to more drama, its human nature to want to stand out and to know who you are. Unfortunately this can lead to a Four of Pentacles problem when the person finds something that seems to fit the bill and latches onto it for dear life.  Sometimes there is more than one right answer, more than one thing that defines us, or a further layer that can be revealed.  Sometimes the first thing we come across isn’t THE answer, but an answer that leads us down the path to an answer that is more clear and more defined.

The problem is that we cling.  We grab hold of that one answer, that one method, that one definition and hold on for dear life like it’s a life preserver that is keeping us from drowning.  We hold onto it like we’ll never get another and we’ll be bereft for all time.  We hold on like letting go might be the worst thing that ever happened, as if we aren’t already different than we where when we found it, like we are never going to find anything else, like the world is a zero sum game.  But four is just a step along the way. There are 5’s and 6’s and 7’s and just wait until you get to 8.  8 of cups is when your ship comes in, but if you’ve got your back to the water and are obsessively holding onto your meager coins you’ll never notice until it’s too late.