Court Cards - King of Pentacles
The King of Abundance
In the tarot there are 16 “Court” cards divided into four royal families, each headed by a King. The Kings are sort of overlords of their suits, and therefore represent the pinnacle of what can be achieved within the constraints of those suits. The King of Wands is all about vision and action. The King of Swords is more concerned with thoughts, ideas and communication. The King of Cups has mastered emotional maturity, wisdom and relationships. The King of Pentacles is focussed on the material aspects of life – wealth, work, health, property, etc.
I make no secret of the fact that Pentacles are my favourite suit. I am a Capricorn, born in midwinter, ruled by Saturn. These are all connected to the suit of Pentacles. The more I learn about myself and Pentacles, the more I realise that the suit is much, much more than 'money and the material side of life'.
In this article, we'll take a look at the King of Pentacles and examine his good side and his not so good aspects.
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The King sits on a throne carved with bulls' heads. He is lavishly dressed in flowing robes embroidered with vines and grapes. His crown is heavily decorated with red jewels in the shape of flowers. He faces front and slightly to the left. His gaze is directed downwards. He appears very relaxed. In his right hand he holds a plain gold sceptre. His left rests on a golden pentacle. All around are signs of abundance; a verdant and productive garden and a beautiful castle in the background. The sky is a gold sunset.
His left foot is raised and resting on something – not many can agree on what it is; some say a bull's head, a pig's or some other animal. Others say it is the helmet he isn't wearing; the clue being that his visible left leg is clad in armor. It doesn't have ears or look soft like an animal or shiny like armor. It could be a rock, but there's definitely carving on it. It's been suggested that it is connected to Waite's rivalry with Crowley, and the thing is the head of the Egyptian god, Thoth in his baboon form (usually he is depicted with the head of an ibis). This is one of the mysteries of the Rider-Waite deck – neither the creator, Arthur E. Waite, nor the artist, Pamela Coleman, ever referred to it.
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Symbols of the King of Pentacles
Green, brown, gold
Abundance, growth, life and death
Virility, strength, determination
Capricorn, Libra, Taurus
Coins or Pentacles?
In many decks this card is known as the King of Coins. However, I always feel that 'coins' closes the suit down and restricts its meaning to wealth. A pentacle is a five pointed star enclosed in a circle. The points represent the four 'elements': fire, water, air and earth, with the fifth point being 'spirit' (or energy or God or 'all that is'). When you look at it this way, you can see that the suit of Pentacles has many facets and holds many mysteries. I make no secret of the fact that Pentacles are my favourite suit. I am a Capricorn, born in midwinter, ruled by Saturn. These are all connected to the suit of Pentacles.
The King of Pentacles in a reading
It is thought that Pentacles are the final suit in the tarot because they represent the final manifestation of the emotions, thoughts and actions that have gone before in the other three suits. In other words, physical reality, being the densest plane of existence, takes a combination of the other planes to become visible and touchable. For example, a table could not exist without the thought, idea, inspiration, design and skill that came first. Therefore, the King of Pentacles is the culmination of all the other minor arcana.
When he appears in a reading, he can indicate that the querent is about to achieve their goals on a physical level. They may get the promotion that they've worked hard to get, or come into an inheritance. The card may also be telling you that someone like the King of Pentacles has great influence over the situation or is a key player in helping the seeker. It could also, of course, represent the seeker themselves. There are many more nuances to this card which will be explored as we get to know this King.
Characteristics of the King of Pentacles
As a personality, this King is a down-to-earth, pragmatic and fairly upbeat character. He is proud of his achievements, his home, family and business. He works hard to acquire the security he needs. He is careful with his resources but can be extremely generous. He enjoys the good things of life and sees no reason to stint on luxuries. The King of Pentacles likes to relax at home. He enjoys good food and wine. He loves to be in a stable relationship. I love that the Robin Wood King of Pentacles is wearing richly embroidered robes and... carpet slippers, indicating that this man loves his luxuries but also his plain comforts.
He is not a radical thinker, emotional or outwardly spiritual. However, those who are close to him know that he has many layers; hidden depths, if you like. His family mean everything to him, and if he is not so good at expressing it in words, then he expresses it by providing the best life he can for family members. He has a respect for tradition and is quite conventional in outlook although he also can be a little flamboyant and eccentric.
This King understands the value of knowledge, not necessarily in an academic sense, but in the acquisition of life experience. He prefers to teach or show someone how to succeed, rather than handing them success on a plate. He likes to see people help themselves and is happy to reward effort.
He is usually a businessman with a comprehensive understanding of how to play the game. He is shrewd, astute and patient. He has a good instinct for investment and knows that money is best put to work than hoarded. If he's not involved in the business world, then he might be a farmer – closely connected to nature and deeply respectful of the earth. He takes pains to ensure that his impact on the land is positive.
The King of Pentacles reversed
Often the reversed card will take his positive attributes to extremes; thus his shrewdness with money turns into miserliness. His deep-rooted respect for tradition becomes his road map for life and he refuses to change or accept anything outside of these self-imposed boundaries. His desire to help his children achieve their potential turns him into a bully. His love of home comforts makes him a tyrant towards his wife. Keywords for the reversed card include: snobbery, money-grubbing, abusive, rigidity, social conformity, over-materialistic and power-obsessed.
The King of Pentacles, love and relationships
The King of Pentacles is a fairly earthy character, therefore he is also keen on the physical aspects of his love relationship. He is quite conventional in his... er... approach, but any potential bride needs to know that physical love will be an important part of their union. He is kindly towards his wife and once married, usually prefers to stay that way. If he's with the right person, he will go through life with a twinkle in his eye.
He can be a hard disciplinarian with his children. Mainly because he follows tradition and this is how he was brought up. He doesn't know, or care to know, any other way. He expects respect and usually gets it. However, as his children reach young adulthood he could have a rebellion on his hands. Very often his adult children will leave home as soon as they can so to distance themselves from their father. Years later, they may begin to understand their father's motivation and a begrudging admiration takes the place of contempt.
If you receive this card in a relationship reading, pay attention to its position and the other cards surrounding it. They can modify or enhance the card's energy. For example, the King of Pentacles with the Two of Cups, may indicate that the seeker has (or will have) a strong mutual attraction with a King of Pentacles type. If the Six of Cups reversed is nearby, then child/parent problems may be an issue.
Careers and money
These aspects of the card have mostly been covered previously. However, if you are asking a question of the tarot and receive this card as a response, then consider it to be very positive. This card could be exhorting you to start your own business, become more astute with money or could mean that a family inheritance is headed your way. Alternatively, it might mean that a mentor is waiting to help you succeed or that you should study someone who reminds you of this card to see how he operates in business.