Knight of Pentacles
(The Knight of Pentacles card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)**
Back to the Court Cards! Let us examine another Tarot “Royal” by getting to know the Knight of Pentacles. Just in case this is the first time you are reading my column, we will first review some basic information.
A Tarot deck has 78 cards. There are 22 Major Arcana cards dealing with broader and more far-reaching life experience issues, archetypes that are easy for us to identify with and connect with at some point in our lives. There are 56 Minor Arcana cards that are customarily grouped into four categories or suits that represent the four elements dealing with day-to-day issues.
The Court Cards are a part of the Minor Arcana, acting as a representation of the family unit (“families” of all kinds) and individually representing particular personality traits of people, places and events in our lives. These cards can also tell us about our own personality and how it is perceived by others. Thinking of Tarot cards as people, with each card having an individual personality, is particularly appropriate for the Court Cards, as they are the most human of all the cards in a Tarot deck. Even the illustrations for the Court Cards show humans in the majority of Tarot decks.
Instead of numbers, Court Cards have rank. The lowest ranking Court Card is usually called the Page, the messenger or intern or apprentice who is still learning of life and living, but who is also good at dealing with the unexpected. Next comes the Knight, the card we are talking about this month, who is the representation of strong, focused and even excessive manifestations of his suit.
Both the Queen and the King represent mature adults. The Queen manifests her suit in a feminine or yin or inner way, and the King manifests his suit in a masculine or yang or outer way. This manifestation does not necessarily correspond to gender; a man can be represented by a Tarot Queen if he has a strong inner focus, and a woman can be represented by a Tarot King if she projects a strong sense of authority. Some decks change the names around, but the meanings in the hierarchy of the Tarot Court are pretty standard.
We are talking about the Knight of Pentacles today, and we already know that our Knight will manifest his suit with strength and focus, even to the point of being excessive. Like his King, our Knight is concerned with results, but unlike his King, our Knight is not responsible for also caring for his people, only for obtaining those results.
The traditional image on the Knight of Pentacles shows an armored Knight holding a Pentacle in one hand, sitting on a powerful dark warhorse that is standing still and steady with all four hooves on the ground. The sky is golden, the ground beneath the horse is green; in the nearby background are rolling farmlands, plowed rows visible, with a few mountains in the distance. Some decks show the Knight kneeling or standing beside his horse. There is little movement to be found in the image, but lots of strength, stability, and awareness of surroundings.
The suit of Pentacles/Disks/Coins corresponds with the playing card suit of Diamonds, the cardinal direction of north, and the element of Earth. Earth energies are tangible, stable, and practical, and they are slow to change, but they are also steady and strong.
The cards of this suit are about the physical, earthly world, our physical bodies, and everything we need in order to maintain our earthly world and those physical bodies, including health and exercise. Pentacles cards talk about fertility, prosperity, and the wealth that can bring both physical shelter and mental and emotional pleasure. Pentacles cards can show a possible outcome or end result of our efforts, the product of our labors; they can give information about material manifestations of all kinds. These cards can represent discipline and diligence, and an interest in quality rather than quantity, but they can also indicate the influence of greed and avarice, and the lack of an ability to access or be aware of resources.
Earth is not the only element that corresponds to our Knight. In the Tarot Court, the suit of the card has an elemental correspondence, and the rank of the card has an elemental correspondence. Kings correspond with either Air or Fire (depending on the deck), Queens correspond with Water, Pages correspond with Earth, and Knights correspond with either Air or Fire (depending on the deck). For this column, we will assign the element of Fire to our Knight, making our Knight of Pentacles representing Fire of Earth.
In its natural state, the element of Fire is hot and dry. It tends to bring spontaneous change or impulsive, energetic effects. Fire transforms everything in our world. Fire can sanitize or cleanse, and it can destroy everything in its path; Fire can warm us and keep us safe, or it can kill us. The element of Fire can be seen as kinetic, or even electric. It has the power to create greatness (when we are inspired to be better than we think we can be), or destruction (when we believe we are greater than we actually are). Fire fuels innovation, but an imbalance or lack of Fire can bring austerity.
Earth is passive and feminine in nature; it is cool and dry. When amassed Earth has weight; it is able to bind together or shape the other elements. Fire is active and masculine in nature; it is warm and dry, and separates and shapes. Combine the health, fertility, prosperity, steadiness, and introverted nature of Earth with the intensity, transformation, energetic effects and gregarious nature of Fire, and you have a good picture of Fire of Earth, and of our Knight of Pentacles. Here we have a stimulating force where the will supports the senses and passion that manifests through the physical world.
Like the other cards of the Tarot, Court Cards have astrological correspondences. Our Knight of Pentacles corresponds with the cusp of Leo and Virgo.
The Sun sign of Leo is connected with the Lion (the king of the jungle), our Sun (the center of our solar system), and the element of Fire. This means that Leos are powerful and willful in all they do, often achieving more than expected. Of course, they can also be inflexible, rigid, stubborn, opinionated and single-minded. Leos are passionate and courageous; they can combine dignity and strength in order to be effective leaders who have a talent for inspiring others to also go above and beyond what is expected. They tend to plunge into a situation without a second glance, but since they thrive on risk and competitive situations, the end result is often good.
Virgo, the Virgin, is the sixth sun sign in the zodiac. Those born under this sign have a strong sense of service, and feel satisfied when helping others. They sometimes come off as cold or unemotional, but they are actually cautious, sizing things up. Virgos are meticulous, practical, intelligent, reliable, analytical and intelligent; of course, they are also over-critical, too conservative, and harsh. Virgos exist within the mind, appearing calm and collected on the outside, but lots going on inside. They are pure and honest, never malicious, and always trying to figure out how to improve things.
The Leo/Virgo cusp can be complicated. Leo corresponds with our Sun and Virgo corresponds with the planet Mercury, which means we are dealing with enthusiasm, ambition and the need to create, as well as speed, logic and an analytical mind focused on communicating. Practical, secretive and earthy, or intuitive, social and fiery; this combination can be either, or even both.
Because they are Minor Arcana cards, Court Cards also correspond with a sephira on the Tree of Life. The Knights correspond with the sephira of Chokmah, the first actual manifestation after the pureness of Kether (Kether represents the cause or catalyst of manifestation). Chokmah is found at the top of the Pillar of Force/Expansion. It is seen as dynamic thrust, and as the Ultimate Positive, the Great Stimulator and the Great Fertilizer (one of the symbols of Chokmah is the penis), and thus this sephira is connected to the Wheel of the Year. It represents dynamic male energy and is the origin of vital force and polarity. In Chokmah, pure being becomes pure force (and thus, pure formlessness), and independence is possible. This is a perfect description of the Knight cards.
The Llewellyn Welsh Knight of Pentacles shows the traditional image of an armored Knight sitting on a warhorse holding up a Pentacle, with planted fields in the background. The Knight of Pentacles is described as a hardworking young man with a traditional or orthodox outlook. Here is someone who is dependable and who offers solid progress (but not fast progress). His approach is methodical, and he can be a bit dull, but he gets the job done. Reversed, his stability is turning to stagnation and he focuses more on money than on honorable accomplishments.
The Shadowscapes Tarot Knight of Pentacles rides the crest of an earth dragon, grounded and slow but with unstoppable progress as wherever the dragon sets his sights will be reached despite blockages. The Knight has eyes only for his goal and thus misses out on the beauty of the forest surrounding him and the dryads who reach out toward him. It may appear that he lacks creativity but actually he is conservative and tends to do things in a tried-and-true way.
The Thoth Tarot Prince of Disks is riding a solid and heavy chariot filled with round seeds and being pulled by a bull. Crowley describes this Prince as the ultimate handyman, “competent, ingenious, thoughtful, cautions, trustworthy, imperturbable; he constantly seeks new uses for common things,” and sees the Prince of Pentacles as intensely secret, and not always in a good way. We should note here that Crowley saw the rank of this Prince (the Thoth Tarot equivalent to the Knight) as Air of Earth and representing the cusp of Aries and Scorpio, so the feeling of this card might be different from the Knights of other decks.
The image on the Knight of Coins in the Legacy of the Divine Tarot is of a Knight’s helmet decorated with bull horns (representing physical prowess); in the forest surrounding the mask, a pair of stallions compete for dominance. This Knight offers stamina, endurance and physicality without requiring ambition, physical glory or personal gain. He is in it for the long haul and is always able to fulfil his promises. His advice to us is don’t hold back; allow yourself to be completely engaged in life.
The Pentacles cards of the Tarot Minor Arcana deal with matters of health, fertility, wealth/career, and building something useful and lasting. When the Knight of Pentacles appears in a spread, we know the focus will be on material concerns, investments and finances, tangible work (especially work done by hand), health, and even a focus on the physical senses. The Knight of Pentacles tends to be practical and conservative, focusing on how to do something rather than why it needs to be done. He works steadily and sees a job to its end; he invests with a long-term outlook and is both patient and trustworthy.
Knights are seen as messengers, mercenaries, defenders of Court and King, and the arm of the law for the kingdom. They are able to move in different directions as they accomplish their tasks because their purpose is focused only on the accomplishment of those tasks. The appearance of the Knight of Pentacles could be indicating that events connected with health, careers, the home, or even the reliability or lack thereof of those upon whom we depend regarding home, work or play, need to be addressed or adjusted.
The Knight of Pentacles considers it his job to protect what is valuable, and his laser focus and ability to shut out distractions means he does his job well. If the Knight of Pentacles shows up in a spread, look to the card at his left. Here would be an indication of whom or what he is protecting. Likewise, a card to the right would be an indication of whom or what he is warding away.
Like a slow-moving stream of lava, the Knight of Pentacles may not be quick, but he is almost unstoppable. He moves forward no matter what the obstacle, and leaves behind him fertile earth filled with seeds that will someday bear valuable fruit. All we have to do is nurture and protect this potential.
About the Author:
Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher. Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.