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.
Minor Arcana: Positive elements of Four of Pentacles
The illustration for the Four of Pentacles in the Rider-Waite tarot almost looks like the illustration for a court card. The main character is a king, with a crown, sitting hunched on a small throne that, at second glance, could be a large house or church that would fit the rest of the background, a rather busy town full of buildings, but it a smaller perspective as if the king was a giant like in Gulliver’s travels.
In this suit of Pentacles, the king has one pentacle beneath each foot, one on his crown and the final one held tight in both hands, protectively. He obviously does not want to let it go.
Like the overprotective king on the illustration, the four of pentacles in a tarot reading is usually a symbol for saving money or being particularly cautious with the use of various resources available. By extension of this concept in a figurative sense, the Four of Pentacles from the minor arcana, also represents conservative values and ideas, focusing on safe and low-risk investments or endeavors while shying away from anything bold, new, or untested.
If the four of pentacles is combined with more “social” cards in a tarot spread, the conservative elements can be adapted in that context too, dealing with someone who would rather spend time with longtime friends instead of meeting new people, or someone feeling responsible for someone else.
Like an adult taking care of a child, or a good friend managing one of their friends that might have a hard time staying sober or doing the right thing in a social environment, acting like a caretaker or the incarnation of that person’s conscience like an angel perched on their shoulder.
Negative elements of Four of Pentacles
The reversed four of pentacles meaning in a tarot reading deals with the downsides of the conservatism and protectionism of the more generic upright meaning. As such, it is usually the sign of excessive greed, trying to hoard as many resources and valuables as possible without any regard for consequences that do not affect you directly. It is a sign of putting yourself first without caring about others in the equation.
The excessive greed of a reversed four of Pentacles also has serious consequences on the social and economic context, since the urge to save every penny slows down the economy. This also echoes the image of a snake eating its own tail, as usually, the ones with an already larger share of the resources cake tend to be those who are the least generous with it and who keep wanting for more and more.
Four of Pentacles and love
The extremely material aspect of the four of pentacles usually does not mesh well with a love-based tarot reading. It might represent a relationship where one partner is more interested in their own finances and love of money than about the other person in that relationship.
It might also point fingers at some kind of deliberate control over the other person, who ceases to be a human being in their eyes and becomes just another resource to be collected, hoarded, and isolated. As such, this is usually considered a rather negative card to draw in a love-based spread.
Four of Pentacles: Traditional meanings
Combined with positive cards and in a professional or material context, the four of Pentacles represents a safe and conservative outlook in dealing with resources and energy. This card focuses on security and stability, and as regards the Querent’s financial situation this card also advises saving up and building comfortable assets for a long term game.
Conservatism, saving money, protecting something or someone, and managing resources.
Reversed: Greed, selfishness, and opposition to change.