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Four of Pentacles Meaning – Smith-Waite Centennial

The Four of Pentacles introduces us today to another somewhat polarizing figure! We have two daily tarot readings again for you, depending on how you relate to this card.

But first, let's take a look at the meaning and symbols behind the Four of Pentacles or Coins. Remember that the Pentacles suit is traditionally the suit of Coins. And while this suit can represent all things physical and material, the Four of Pentacles tends to be a bit more literally coin-focused and financial than its friends in the suit. 

Four of Pentacles Rider-Waite-Smith tarot card reversed, detailed image description in body text, pictured in an open glass box on a dark blue background

The Four of Pentacles card in the Smith-Waite Centennial tarot deck

In the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition of tarot cards, the Four of Pentacles depicts a seated figure who seems to be very determined to hold on to their titular four coins! And the lovely Smith-Waite Centennial edition of the deck that we're looking at here is no exception. We see a resolute figure with their arms folded around one coin, their feet pressing two other coins down against the ground, and a fourth coin balanced precariously on their head.

The placement of these four coins or pentacles tells us that this is someone with money on their mind, money in their heart, and money at the very root of their sense of self and security. Yet the card suggests anxiety and frugality more than abundance and luxury because of some interesting juxtapositions.

For one thing, the figure is seated on a rudimentary, austere-looking block of stone instead of a more luxurious throne or seat like we see in so many other tarot cards. And unlike some of the other characters in the Pentacles suit, this figure is bedecked in fine clothing—with no signs of wear or tatters (look at those dapper orange slippers!) and even a golden crown.

There's a contradiction between the figure's fine clothes and their miserly seat, just as there's a tension between their trappings of wealth and their protective body language. They're not poor, but they don't want to part with these coins. They want to appear prosperous, but they don't want to waste resources on all the bells and whistles. In short, there's a lot of class anxiety at play in this card.

Finally, the figure is sitting with their back turned to a distant cityscape. This distance suggests that their preoccupation with financial matters—and other people's reaction!—is setting them apart from society. Their posture, looking straight ahead, suggests an intense focus on the present moment. They're looking neither to the future nor the past.

Two readings for the reversed Four of Coins

How do you feel about this complicated character? Do they have your sympathy, or are you more inclined to distrust them? There's no right answer here; just go with your gut reaction.

If you're more inclined to view the Four of Coins card in a sympathetic light, you've likely faced some financial hardships of your own, and you know what it's like to have to prove yourself to others by buying into a certain level of outward luxury. With the card's reversed position and this reaction, the Four of Coins suggests that your understandable money worries are skewing your perception today.

Have you been feeling like others are turning up their noses at you? Have you felt harshly judged for having had to work so hard for what you have and wanting to spend carefully in order to protect the comforts you've eked out? You doubtless have good reason to feel this way, but be careful not to assume too much about how other people see you. Are you projecting your own anxiety in order to keep yourself safe? It's important not to isolate yourself by avoiding uncomfortable conversations about this. See if you can be upfront today to clear up any misunderstandings.

Lightening up about spending habits

If, on the other hand, the figure in the Four of Pentacles strikes you as too uptight, even paranoid, or overly shallow, you might actually be making assumptions about other people based on their apparent relationship with money. Take this card as a reminder that we all have different backgrounds and struggles, and we've all faced different hurdles when it comes to providing for ourselves or being provided for. 

What would it be like to start giving everyone the benefit of the doubt? Today's tarot card might simply mean not pressuring that friend to go out for drinks after work when they already said they can't. Or it could mean not nagging that relative anymore for not doing what you think they should with their career. 

The Four of Pentacles doesn't mean there are no bad reasons to hold onto money. It just means greed isn't the only factor, and we shouldn't be so quick to judge other people's spending habits when we don't know the whole truth. It's time to lighten up! 

S.M. signature — Savanna Margaret's initials