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King of Pentacles Reversed Meaning – Smith-Waite Centennial

Our second King has stepped onto the scene in today's reading! Say hello to the disenchanted King of Coins, who graces us today in the reversed position.

Last week, I discussed Kings versus Queens and gender in the tarot Court Cards generally when we looked at the King of Cups. And again, the difference between the King of Pentacles and the Queen of Pentacles is less about power or rank and more about individual character. While the Queen of the material, earthy suit seems to be harbouring secret pain despite her outward bounty, the King's sour expression suggests a loss of faith in the trappings of his own authority.

With that context in mind, let's take a closer look at the meaning of the King of Pentacles card. We'll then wrap up with a spot of fortune-telling to conclude this daily reading.

King of Pentacles Rider-Waite tarot card pictured with Smith-Waite Centennial deck, including Pamela Colman Smith initials and rose. Detailed card description in body text.

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

In the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition, the Kind of Pentacles sits on an imposing throne amid a verdant outdoor scene. While The Emperor's throne features a motif of rams, the Kind of Pentacles' throne is decked out in bulls, perhaps similarly representing strength, power, and an unrelenting strength of will.

Everything about this figure's outfit conveys bounty and growth. Over shining plate armour, he wears a dark robe with a pattern of grapes that echoes the grapes growing beside his throne. His golden crown likewise reminds us of the Pentacles or Coins suit's affiliation with the earth element, and it features red flowers. The King's cowl repeats this lively hue, and in one hand he holds a golden sceptre. In the other hand, he rests a heavy palm on a single golden coin that perches on his thigh. A stately castle in the background underscores the card's meaning of material wealth. And above, a golden sky echoes the gleaming coin below. 

But like the Queen of Pentacles, the King of this Coins suit seems dissatisfied despite all the trappings of physical comfort and Court Card authority. He frowns down at the coin in his lap, and his mouth appears to twist in something approaching disgust or regret. Upright, this card implies a position of tremendous luxury and a dignified social position—but both are at odds with a sense of inner discontent, even remorse. In the reversed position, given the Witch Hazel Tarot approach to upside-down tarot cards, this card suggests the presence of this kind of person in your life, rather than you yourself embodying these meanings.

A reminder that suffering transcends class

It would be a cliché to say that money doesn't buy happiness. We know that it's easy to feel that way when you have everything in your life that Pentacles represent: money, a stable home, sexual fulfillment (if desired) and physical health. But for those of us who lack any of those things, material shortages are a very real cause of not only unhappiness but also further suffering, and even trauma. So money very much can buy a level of happiness that isn't in reach to folks struggling with limited access to material necessities.

However, today's card also reminds us that pain and suffering transcend class, even if they affect marginalized folks worse and more extensively. Illness, depression, anxiety, and bereavement affect the wealthy and able-bodied as well. And the King of Pentacles in reverse invites you to make space for these experiences—even if it isn't comfortable to do so.

An invitation to stop assuming health and wellness

Pain and illness (both mental and physical) can be very isolating, and so often, they're completely invisible. The King of Pentacles reminds you today that you should never assume wellness in anyone else, that there are many private battles lurking beneath the surface. While these preoccupations range from sorrows to serious health conditions, today's tarot card means that it isn't your place to guess.

Instead, ask yourself how you can stop assuming that everyone is well who doesn't show outward signs of suffering. Would you treat people differently if you recognized the possibility of serious suffering? Youth doesn't imply health, and abundance doesn't imply strength. In fact, like our King of Pentacles, they can make it more difficult for unwellness to be taken seriously. Are your assumptions about other people aligned with these truths?

S.M.