As a reminder, the suit of Pentacles is driven by feminine energy and represents values related to stability, growth, and material aspects in the life of the Querent or subject of a reading. Scholars and academics have connected the suit of pentacles to the classical element of earth, and most of the cards from that suit embody the symbolic attributes of this element, one way or another.
Five of Pentacles card: Traditional meanings
Just like the homeless paupers displayed on the illustration of the five of pentacles in the Rider Waite Smith tarot deck, this minor arcana card deals with a precarious financial or professional situation, that can get even worse when the arcana card is drawn in a reversed position in the tarot spread.
This is a clearly unambiguously bad card to draw in a reading, sending a clear warning that something problematic is to be found in the situation analyzed in the reading. As such, the other cards drawn along a five of pentacles can either provide some advice on how the existing situation might be altered to change the outcome, or provide a clearer incentive to stay away from this current path if possible.
Upright: Poverty, misery, lack of funds and resources, isolation, and bad health.
Reversed: Extreme loss, living off other people’s resources, excessive spending, and taking advantage of others.
Upright Five of Pentacles card
The Five of Pentacles paints a rather depressing picture in the Rider-Waite Smith Tarot deck illustration. The five pentacles are found within the picture of a stained glass window (probably from a church or cathedral) but the main focus of the scene is on the outside of that building.
There are two people outside, obviously homeless and poor people, and the rest of the card is covered in heavy snowflakes, setting the situation in the middle of cold winter.
The core five of pentacles meaning is the most obvious one you get when you look at the card. In this minor arcana suit, conveys a notion of poverty, destitution, and overall lack of funds and resources creating a difficult situation for the subject of the reading.
As such, it is rather difficult to speak of a positive element, as this is one of the few tarot cards from the suit of Pentacles, with a rather negative image and message regardless of the actual position of the arcana in the reading, and whether it is upright or reversed.
On top of the most obvious meaning of poverty and absence of money, the situation of the characters on the outside of the church building (which is often a symbol for inclusion and being part of a group) can also represent a feeling of isolation and alienation for the subject of the reading, a “the world is against us” mentality that keeps them away from meaningful social interactions, which consequently cements their position on the fringes of society, without any means to pull through.
Finally, an upright five of Pentacles can also mean serious health problems for the subject of the reading, requiring outside assistance or even hospitalization.
Reversed Five of Pentacles card
When the five of pentacles appears reversed in a tarot spread, the notion of poverty and lack of resources is still present in the card meaning but even further enhanced by a clear lack of ambition to get out of the situation. There is a kind of moral lack of resources too, as the object of the reading will usually try to get resources from any potential mark around them, but without any real plan or project to get out of their current predicament.
A reversed five of pentacles can also describe a situation where careless spending and lack of long-term view creates a vicious cycle that keeps making a bad situation worse and worse.
Five of Pentacles and love
There is no clear connection between the upright and reversed meanings of the five of pentacles and a reading based on love or romantic interests. Consequently, when this card appears in such a reading it is usually to provide context to some other elements or cards in a reading, strengthen an already negative card, or paint a bleak picture of any potential situation or love interest. It might also refer to a precarious financial or professional situation affecting the potential love interest or subject of the reading.