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Ten of Pentacles Reversed and Some Tarot Card History – Smith-Waite Centennial

Our daily tarot card is all about legacy as we say hello to the Ten of Pentacles reversed. And unlike the Four of Swords, which spoke of intellectual legacies and personal ideologies, the Ten of Pentacles focuses on the material connections that tie us together in this world.

In the reversed position, this card suggests that when it comes to family and belonging, you feel that you're on the outside looking in. But let's take a closer look at the pip cards or numbered Minor Arcana in the tarot, as well as the card itself, before we unpack its meaning for today.

Ten of Pentacles reversed Rider-Waite tarot card pictures with oval tins, dried lavender flowers, and a dark blue background. Detailed image description of the card in body text.

A bit of tarot history: the numbered Minor Arcana or pip cards in Rider-Waite-Smith tarot decks

Pamela Colman Smith was the first artist to fully illustrate a tarot deck specifically for divination and magic purposes. Her work, a collaboration with the occultist A.E. Waite, has come to be known as the Rider-Waite tarot decks. They're the most popular tarot decks in the English-speaking world today, which doesn't typically use tarot cards as playing cards. (Italian and French gaming traditions still use tarot cards in play.)

And there's a growing movement to acknowledge Pamela Colman-Smith's contributions to modern tarot and witchcraft by including her name. That's why modern tarot readers are referring to these iconic decks as Rider-Waite-Smith or RWS decks—no longer as just Rider-Waite. (The Rider Company was the original publisher of this fully illustrated deck, hence the R in RWS.)

So why am I telling you all this? You came for a free tarot reading! Well, traditional tarot decks have served in both playing cards and fortune-telling for centuries, but the pip cards or numbered Minor Arcana in these decks don't depict scenes. The pip cards are the numbered regular suit carts—everything outside of the trump or Major Arcana suit and the Court Cards. It's worth considering some history when you look for deeper meaning in the Minor Arcana.

So all of this is to say that we should thank Pamela Colman Smith for the very evocative illustration we're about to describe! And you'll see some big differences later on in our Card of the Day blog, when we move on to a traditional or Marseilles-style deck. If you're intrigued by these two styles of tarot decks—fully illustrated and traditional pip cards—then you might enjoy some further reading. Marilyn of Tarot Clarity weighs in on the rather silly "schism that seems to be building primarily between the Marseilles and RWS camps." 

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

Now, let's set that history of tarot cards aside and focus on our daily tarot pull! Colman Smith's Ten of Pentacles features a scene of family life. Figures representing multiple generations have gathered in a bountiful courtyard, and the card is filled with symbols of domesticity and the fruitful succession of new generations. We see castles and strongholds, boats, and grapevines—and even the ten Pentacles themselves are arranged in the shape of a tree, evoking family prosperity.

Pentacles or Coins are, of course, the suit of earth, wealth, and the body. So this tarot card is all about domestic life and the material connections that tie us together—whether genes or shared hearths, shared harvests or newly planted seeds.

The reversed position and a yearning to belong

In the reversed position, the Ten of Pentacles suggests that today, you might be feeling like you're alone in this world. Whether you're far away from friends and loved ones or have just been isolated lately or unable to sincerely connect, you may be feeling a pang of yearning for the security and meaning of heritage. 

For so many of us, family life is not the tight-knit, harmonious ease we see depicted in the RWS Ten of Pentacles. Strain, secrets, and even trauma so often mar the idyllic picture of family life. And when we think of longer-term legacies on a genetic or inherited level, that kind of connection is a privilege that many people simply can't access. We don't always know where our roots are or what kind of generational legacy we're carrying.

Today's reversed appearance of the Ten of Pentacles reminds you that genes and traditional family are only one form of legacy, one type of clan. They can be powerful and enriching, but they're only material. The connections that really matter run much deeper. And they don't depend on shared soil or shared genes.

If you're feeling adrift on a cold and stormy sea, can you spy other ships through the fog? You have the power the forge new connections. You can choose your own family and start a new legacy. So who do you love, and who are you rooting for? Try to deepen those connections today.

S.M. signature — Savanna Margaret's initials