Four of Pentacles

Protecting what is yours

This card can go one of two ways: it’s either about greed, or it’s about self-care. Either way, it’s highlighting focus on self.

As a culture, we have a funny relationship with the concept of ‘selfishness’. We’re all, to a fair degree, selfish beings – we work towards our own goals, we spend our earnings on things that make our own lives better, we view life from our own perspectives. At the same time, to be called ‘selfish’ is a terrible insult. The Four of Pentacles raises questions about that.

It can represent a person who is being mean and grabby. Focusing on their own material gain or comfort, perhaps to the expense of others. Overly concerned with material or financial things. Losing track of what’s important in life, becoming disconnected from life’s pleasures. In Pamela Colman-Smith’s version of this card, a figure sits hunched over a large pentacle. Pentacles cover their feet (separating them from the earth). They sit with their back to the town, forsaking their community. They look hungry and defensive. It’s a pretty bleak image of greed!

On the other hand, perhaps this person is acting wisely. Maybe they’re all spent out and need to save some cash to make sure they have next month’s rent. Maybe they’ve spent so much time caring for others, they’ve forgotten how to take care of themselves. Maybe they’re creating boundaries to help them do that.

In a reading…

You may be getting called out for being selfish or greedy. Being too materialistic. Focusing on your own needs too much, and neglecting others. This is a frequent interpretation of the Four of Pentacles. If it shows up like this in your reading, you know it’s time to lighten up. Share a little. Practice gratitude and let it lead you to generosity. You needn’t hold so tight to what you have. It’s not all about you.

Think also about what you might be feeling protective over, and why. When we guard our ‘stuff’ this closely, it’s usually because we’re afraid it may be taken away. Is this an idea you could dig into? Can you see what’s at the heart of that fear?

This card may also/alternatively be about boundaries (…which of course, others may perceive as ‘selfish’.) There’s a huge amount to be gained from accepting that you have needs (especially but not exclusively material needs), and from actually prioritising them. Sometimes you have the resources and energy to help everyone around you, or to say yes to social events, or to invite folks into your space. Other times, it’s important to create boundaries, so that you can sustain yourself. This is an especially important concept for activists and folks with caring responsibilities – your work involves caring for others, but you won’t be able to do that if you haven’t first taken care of your own needs. Don’t be afraid to rein it in sometimes and focus on yourself.