5 of Pentacles – Need

The 5 of Pentacles shows a man on crutches and a woman in a tattered shawl walking past a church with a brightly lit stained glass window. Both appear oblivious or indifferent to the place that is supposed to offer protection and comfort. It is clear that the card describes a time of need.

The difficulty can be experienced as a period of financial need, illness, a stroke of bad luck and misfortune. Added to the hard times is the feeling of being alone and abandoned during this time of hardship. As such, this card is about more than just material lack, but also spiritual deprivation as a result of losing faith.

Some interpretations of this card is that, based on the proceeding card, the hardship that one experiences during this period may be brought upon by one’s own selfishness and neglect. However, this interpretation detracts from the main focus and lesson of this card. While the tarot does teach that we are all responsible for our actions and we will all eventually experience the effects of karma, this card is not about judgement. Rather, it is about addressing our need for help.

To experience physical lack and be at the mercy of others can destroy one’s sense of self-worth and perceived security. Yet, as threatening as this situation may seem, its main damage is to our ego. If we can let this go, we can accept the situation as a humbling experience and seek the help and guidance that we need.

Often times, we may discover that help is not far away.

As unpleasant as these times are, they offer us a chance to reconnect with our faith in ourselves and the beneficent universe. This is not to glorify suffering; rather it is saying that the way out of difficult times is by not giving up on ourselves. When our anguish and burden weighs heavy on our backs, it is more important than ever make the effort to lift our heads so we can see our guiding stars.


Hexagram 54 – Concubine  

In this hexagram, Thunder is used to represent the oldest male while Lake symbolizes the youngest female. The implied image is an older man marrying a young woman as a second wife. The situation described is that of being in an inferior position, or a situation in which we have little influence.

How do we make the best of an unfavourable position? The I Ching teaches that nothing lasts forever, even times of misery. Therefore, when times are not in our favour, we must remain strong and humble so that we are ready to improve our stations the moment an opportunity arises.

Nine on line 1:

Being in an inferior position is like being lame in one foot but still able to walk. Because we can move forward, we must. During times of difficulty, the easy thing to do is to give up but the wise thing to do is to acknowledge our hardship. In this way, we gain a slight advantage by being aware of what we’re up against.

Worry not that we won’t get as far as others. The important thing at this time is that we’re moving. Every action we take empowers us and takes power away from fear and helplessness.

Nine on line 2:

Those who are blind in one eye can still see. Even though our vision is limited, if we focus, we can still see enough to determine right from wrong, safety from danger.

During such times of limited sight, it is advisable to act like a hermit – that is, to focus on taking care of ourselves and not try to change our environment. By staying true to ourselves, even though our choices are limited, we gain a measure of inner freedom.

Six on line 3:

Sometimes we try to wait for the right moment, for our opportunity to shine, but none arrives. There comes a time when we must be realistic and accept that life doesn’t always go as planned or hoped. However, accepting fate isn’t the same thing as accepting defeat. If anything, once we come to terms with our unpleasant situation, we can begin to adjust and make the best of it.

Nine on line 4:

Other times, patience and waiting pays off. Because we didn’t lose sight of ourselves and didn’t commit to something out of fear, we are rewarded with new opportunities. There is a difference between delay and avoidance.

Six on line 5:

Patience and humility pays off. Although we currently find ourselves at a disadvantage, all is not lost unless we give up. If we stay strong and dedicated, always working to improve ourselves whenever possible, we might just find a time when we, too, can shine and grow. Just like a seed that remains dormant in the winter, there will come a time when it’s our turn to stand in the sun.

Six on line 6:

No improvement can be made without effort. If all we offer is emptiness, emptiness will be all that we receive.



Feeling like we have no power to direct our own lives is one of life’s greatest challenges. When this feeling arise, we need to first understand where and how we are disadvantaged so that we can find ways to overcome these shortcomings.

If no solution can be found, we must keep in mind that nothing lasts forever. There are times of plenty and times of need. This period of helplessness is just another position on the wheel of fortune.