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This week: Six of Pentacles
Six of Pentacles – The Six of Pentacles symbolizes generosity. This is the card of giving to those in need – or needing to ask for help. Whether you are the one who is doing the giving or asking, a spirit of kindness is needed. Share without hesitation. Give the shirt off your back. Don’t be afraid to help out those in need. And, if you are in need, don’t be afraid to seek aid. There is no shame in that.
Kyle – Balancing the scales
I have a postcard I look at most days. It sits in my medicine cabinet that hangs above the sink where I brush my teeth. It is an elegant group of words, strung together with a lovely, sparse little graphic above it. The postcard reads: Begin with loss and see how the world contradicts you, how the horizon implies that beyond it the water is not empty, but full of ships all docking at another island. ~ Lynn Emanuel
I picked up the postcard when I was spinning my wheels in my lost mid-to late-20s. My life was imbalanced; my directions fairly rudderless. The statement on the card resonated with me and has ever since. I have looked at it each day at home since then, morning and night.
It’s easy to take in the Six of Pentacles and understand its meaning, even for the tarot uninclined. The man with the even scales, graciously spilling coins into the open hands of the beggars at his feet. Should we get the card in a spread, it tells us we are made, our finances secure, and we are capable of giving back. We have come to be balanced with the world, and understand that what we need and take is just energy in the form of food, time, money, property, experience, advice, etc. But the person that arrives at the Six of Pentacles knows this same energy must flow out, otherwise the whole thing becomes asymmetrical.
The wisdom in the card it that it does not flow as a “this” for “that”. The universe isn’t so rudimentary. It flows back when you comprehend that, as Aristotle said, “where your talents lie, and the needs of the world converge, there lies your vocation.”
I love that word “vocation.” It is not a job, but a higher frequency of work. I know a lot of chefs who struggle with this balance, their vocation to cook and their job too. It’s a delicate thing to keep the scales even. A chef friend once shared a story of his marriage falling apart, though his restaurant was full, vibrant, and profitable every night. “I filled up a room full of people a couple of times over,” he told me, “but I came home to my wife empty.”
In this culture, where success is the altar to which many of us pray, the Six of Pentacles is a card of caution for our times. “Begin with loss,” it says to me. Giving is getting rid of something; it goes away and the ship sails off, never to be seen at this shore again. But in that loss, “see how the world contradicts you.” If the loss happens with intention, grace, even joy, we level off the scales. The water “is not empty,” but another dock is bountiful in ways you could not have imagined, keeping life, which is as broad as an ocean, balanced upon another shore.
Theresa – Give until it works
In this series, we’ve focused a lot on cooking and eating well. Even last week’s card, the Five of Pentacles, was about eating healthily on a tight budget. But this week’s card, the Six of Pentacles, speaks of being charitable. The image on the card is a stark reminder that not everyone gets the privilege to eat well.
In fact, some people don’t even have the luxury of a “budget”. They have nothing at all.
Yet when we come across homeless people, often we walk past them, assuming that if we give them money, we’re feeding an addiction or “encouraging them” to stay beggars. In some cases, perhaps that may be true, but I’d like to have you pause for a minute on that thinking.
Anyone of us can become destitute at any given time.
An accident, an illness, or a bad decision could find you on down on your luck without a place to sleep or food in your belly. It’s easy to judge when you’re on the other side of the coin but if you’ve never known what it’s like to be poor, count yourself fortunate indeed.
I’ll never forget the time I was sitting in a club, sipping away on a White Russian, when I saw a young man with his nose pressed up against the window. He had a baby face, perhaps sixteen years old at best, which meant there was no way that kid was getting in this club.
But I knew something was up with him, so intrigued, I left the club and went out to see what he was doing. He told me that he was homeless and hungry. I fished out a five dollar bill in my purse and said “you better be using this for food, kid.”
About a half hour later, I saw him sitting outside a Chinese restaurant, eating a plate of food. Truth be told, I felt like crap for my judgmental statement even though that motherly side of me was relieved to see him digging into that fried rice.
Since that time, I’ve spent time protesting for housing for the poor. I’ve given time and money where I can to food banks. My husband and I make a regular practice of giving to the homeless when we encounter them – without judgment. Although I’m not a church-going woman, this is part of my spiritual practice – to share the bounty and blessings I’ve been given, whether that means opening up my mouth or my wallet.
So what about you? How might you help out those less fortunate? Will you reach out and give without thinking or will you instead turn away, and assume that “your” money will be used for narcotics? (Psst…your money isn’t really your money.)
If you’re taking on the mindset of the latter, read no further. But, if you are looking for ways to give, here is a list of what you can do to help out those who need it most:
Write to your school boards and legislatures to encourage them to keep free breakfast and lunch programs in schools. There are many children, especially in inner cities, who do not get the luxury of a healthy breakfast or lunch. For some kids, these might be the only good meals they get. Kids who have enough to eat perform better in school.
Gardens are in! In many neighborhoods, patches of land are being set aside for community gardens. Support these initiatives in your city or town!
France has passed a law that bans supermarkets from throwing away unsold food – instead, forcing them to give the food to charities and food banks. Encourage your state or country to follow suit. Contact your representatives and start the ball rolling!
Think beyond the local and go global in your efforts. Give to world food banks such as the World Food Programme.
Educate yourself. Check out The Hunger Projects facts about hunger and poverty. Also learn more about homelessness at the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
Lastly, when you see someone begging for money, don’t judge. Instead, give if you can. Even just giving a smile and a hello is better than nothing. After all, respect, dignity, and kindness goes a long way when someone is down on their luck. Be a picture of compassion and generosity, always.
A special note for those in need: do not be too proud to ask for help. Contact your local shelters or food pantries. Reach out to your parish if need be. Seek government assistance. Because you do deserve shelter, safety, clothing, food, water, and a chance to thrive. That one ask may be the step up so please, please, ask.
Theresa and Kyle
© Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady 2016
photos from personal collection and Jessica Kaminski
Hungry for more? Click here to explore the entire Tarot by the Mouthful series, from the very first card… right up to our latest installment. Bon appetit!