The 10 of Pentacles

The 10 of Pentacles - Tarot Card from the Rider-Waite Deck

Representing completion; the 10 of Pentacles represents the end of the physical journey with the achievement of manifestation. Here the concept of manifestation represents the formation of an idea, the implementation, cultivation, production, and consumption within the physical realm.

In the upright state the 10 of Pentacles represents a return on investment, or a period of time to consume the fruit of our labour. The emphasis here is not placed on the idea of ending in the sense of termination, but in the sense of a cessation of movement – no further forward momentum is needed for now.

In the inverted state the 10 of Pentacles represents unmet expectations. Our forward momentum has ceased but the outcome is not exactly as we had envisioned. Here the emphasis is placed on making the most of what was achieved rather than seeking to prolong the journey further.

In the Rider-Waite deck the 10 of Pentacles depicts the scene of a market where three generations are assembled, with the eldest seated beside the fruit of the vine representing the physical culmination of our journey. Standing before the elder two parents can be seen engaged in discussion one with the back to their elder and the other regarding their partner with curiosity. The midpoint of our journey is reflected here by their presence and the accompaniment of a child which depicts the potential still held by future generations.

The 10 of Pentacles is overlaid with 10 golden coins emblazoned with the pentacle symbol; these 10 coins are laid out in the shape of the Tree of Life from Kabbalistic tradition, the central Sefirot of Da’at within the first triad representing Knowledge is missing from the tree, its absence could be a sign that it has been transformed, combined with experience to form wisdom as the Sefirot of Chokhmah representing Wisdom is present.

The absence of the Sefirot of Da’at could also be a choice made to avoid Tarot specific symbolism, as the three columns of the Tree of Life are divided here into 2 columns of 3 pentacles at either side representing a dual connection, and 4 in the central column representing stability. The inclusion of Da’at would result in the central column being 5 pentacles representing conflict, its absence therefore could be interpreted as an assertion that knowledge is the root of conflict and that prosperity is achieved when it is omitted, quite literally the depiction of the adage ignorance is bliss.

In self-reflection the 10 of Pentacles serves as a prompt to consider what your ultimate goal will be in terms of wealth and material possessions. We can draw inspiration from the most unlikely of places, going beyond our life experience and the nature of the human condition, the field of Artificial Intelligence for instance is fascinating to explore, particularly for the philosophical questions that exploration raises. One such question is knowing when to stop, otherwise known as The Halting Problem. In simplest terms, imagine you are presented with a locked door, and given a keyring with an infinite number of keys, you are told that one of those keys will open the door. Without restraint you would try key after key until the end of time. For most people however there comes a moment of instinct where we will stop trying. Knowing how to define this ability to recognise when to stop in software terms is an entire field of study within Artificial Intelligence.

Human beings are driven by many things, yet our judgement can be fundamentally flawed at times. Knowing your objective, the goal you want to achieve, or the state you want to end up in is only part of the problem, it defines a boundary. We have to be realistic about how much we devote to achieving our objectives. From the outset of the Suit of Pentacles we tried to define everything in terms of cost, so here the question becomes a reflection of how much we have spent, and how much more we will spend before we stop.

Ask yourself “When do I call time on this project?” or simply “When do I give up?” – the meme of two men digging a tunnel with one above still digging and one below walking away in defeat, both unaware that inches away a mountain of diamonds awaits best illustrates this point. One more step, one more push, one more attempt will always hold the potential for us to achieve completion, but the real question is what cost to ourselves does it take to make that push?

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