10 of Pentacles

10 of Pentacles


While working with a tarot spread recently the 10 of Pentacles symbolised what made the querant happy.


In this case, the querant (we’ll call him Peter) was feeling the loss of family life after a separation. It seemed that the card allowed Peter to engage with the nostalgic appeal of a previous time in his life, one in which he felt comfortable as the provider for his loved ones

While contemplating what I’d write about this blog I was reading a book called The Biographer (2008) by Virginia Duigan. I came across this paragraph:

You could influence the present, and through it the future, but you could do nothing about the past. Alone of the three the past was irrecoverable. It could not be changed and it was potentially merciless. (p. 190)


At first glance I agreed with the idea presented here, but later it occurred to me that the past is only truly “merciless” if we never change our perception of it.



The 10 of Pentacles is a complex card. Coming at the end of our progress through one cycle of the earth suit, the card clearly indicates that a considerable level of progress and development has been made. Perhaps in the Colman Smith images it is the details of this progress that often make me want to push those pentacles out of the way so I can see what’s going on further in (ie at a deeper level than just the “material”).

In order to understand the card in that deeper way, let’s ask which person in the card we would like to symbolise our own character. I suspect Peter would have preferred to be the man inside the wall, but because of his current circumstances, he is really more likely to feel like the pensive elder sitting outside the wall, looking in.

Rachel Pollack writes of the symbolism of this older man, deep in thought:

When the hero Odysseus arrived home from his wanderings in the wild, monster-ridden world outside civilized Greece, he came disguised as a beggar. Only his dog recognized him.   Though he wore rags, they were glorious rags (much like the visitor’s patchwork coat) for the goddess Athena had given them to him. Odysseus returned to the domestic world from the wild; … yet first he had to experience what lay beyond. The 10 of Pentacles takes us there as well.

(p. 242 Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom.)



I love the fact that this card can take us to “the wild, monster-ridden world outside civilized Greece” because that, despite its challenges, provides balance in our lives. We learn from our adventures, be they literal or imagined.


One of my favourite quotes from TS Elliott is:

 We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Inevitably when we come to the 10 of a suit, we are also at the place where we begin again.   (10 = 1 + 0 = 1). (Although there isn’t necessarily any rush.)

The complexity of the 10 of Pentacles can help rather than hinder, if we are prepared to accept that everything goes in cycles.



Even when we are not personally the one to initiate a new cycle in our lives, we have no choice but to respond – within our own lives – to whatever stimulus prompts the new cycle.

The alternative is to allow ourselves to be seduced into a locked form of thinking. Doing so achieves nothing except to create a past that is indeed “merciless” -because it continually dominates the present. Interestingly, the past can dominate whether we see it through rose-coloured glasses – so that everything in the past seems better than the present – or if we see the past as only painful, filled with sad or hurtful experiences.

Unknown-4           images

It seems to me that if we have survived major change in our lives we are in a somewhat luxurious position. We can look back with the benefit of experience and utilise distance from the intensity of our experiences to help reassess them.

Pausing to reflect on our lives can be a challenge – especially in what seems to be a rather ‘driven’ modern western world. However, if we imagine ourselves more in alignment with the rhythm of nature’s cycles, it is possible to perceive such a pause as a period of lying fallow.



Then, rather than being a time in which we feel paralysed by doubts, our pause can be transformative and productive. We can consider past situations in the light of new or different factors, all of which encourages viewing our lives and the world more creatively and allows fresh ideas to be nurtured.

In his writings about runes, Ralph Blume commented:

“Nothing is predestined. The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings.”

And even though it can be difficult to take the next step in life it is always, eventually, what we need to do. Stephen R Covey wrote:

“Live out of your imagination, not your history.”









About Laura Fitzgerald

I'm a wholistic counsellor who uses the wonderful images of the tarot to facilitate discussion and awareness.
This entry was posted in Minor Arcana - Pentacles, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to 10 of Pentacles

  1. Rod says:

    This is an incredibly interesting interpretation of the 10 of Pentacles. I really enjoyed your indepth analysis. Look forward to reading more.


    • Laura Fitzgerald says:

      Glad you enjoyed it Rod. More to come, of course, although my blogging seems never to be as regular or simple as I’d like it to be. All in good time, I suppose.


  2. Andy says:

    Thought provoking as always 🙂 an enjoyable reflection.


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