Bohemian Gothic Tarot Study Group, the Five of Pentacles


I put these thoughts in The Fool thread and then realised they really didn't fit (half asleep I think), so I'm starting this thread specifically. The Five of Pentacles was one of those cards where we saw a Victorian picture and immediately knew we wanted to use it. I'll post the original just for interest. We redrew the figures and I think made them starker in many ways. I find this card very successful in terms of symbolism, but also perhaps the most disturbing Five of Pentacles that we've done. The woman seems so very unaware of the desperate situation of her children.

The background is a church which is dedicated to St Martin, patron saint of beggars (though that's hard to read, it's written around the door):

I think that one reason that this woman does not turn and ask "St Martin", or his church, for help, is that she simply won't accept her status as a beggar - she seems to be someone who has fallen into poverty quite recently.

Is it a good or a bad thing that she is still refusing to accept her neediness? It seems very much to depend on whether you read this as admirable pride or a stupid refusal to face up to reality. The children seem much more able to see their own plight - which in fact makes this a very sad card to my eyes.


I agree with you, Karen. She sees her children suffer before swallowing her pride.

In her defence, It can't be easy for her, to have to stoop to what must be such lowly levels in her eyes but nevertheless circumstances have thrown her into this situation and she must act accordingly.

IMO, it is a bad thing. No mother in her right mind would allow her children to suffer because of pride.

I wonder if she’s this way because she in the past denounced the Church? Maybe that is what is making it so hard for her to ask for its help now.

The look on her face says "I need help, but if you think I'll change my mind or ways, think again".

“Beggars can’t be choosers” springs to mind.

Yes, it is extremely sad for the children. I can't really raise any sympathy for the mother. In this instance, she's not being a 'real' mother.


Five of Pentacles (silver edition) without book....

A very proud woman (mother) holds a young mostly naked child in one arm while a young girl scantly clad holds her hand. The children seem to be suffering, but the woman's face is all about pride and with a huffed up chest she walks past a church with an inviting vigil lamp by the door. Crows appear at the stairs as if just finishing a meal tossed out to them, or perhaps in anticipation, but this woman does not heed the possible help. She will pass it by and fall into degradation.

Dancing Bear

The thing she has forgotten to do is reassure her children and look after them enough to cloth them appropriatly to the cold chill of the night.and enter the sanctity of warmth, Love and food....Unfortunatly i know of a few mums like this..any money that is able to be scraped together is for cigarettes and alcohol , they come before putting food on the table for the children.

this card i feel It is foolish selfish Pride..thinking she above being poor and pretends and refuses to see the reality of her situation, totally ignoring the effect it has on those she has been given to protect, Love and nurture.
Losing all the Motherly instincts,replacing them with stubborn self centred pride..

to me the crow is the natural laws of nature, to me this woman has lost them..

this card represents to me at the moment a refusal to see the truth of a situation..


I look at this picture and I wonder is this woman walking away after being rejected? Is she now determined to make it without their help?

The 2 crows are watching her and waiting. Will she and the children give in and perish? Crows eat dead things. Symbolically they are there to wait for those who don't make it. Those who give in to despair. This woman does not even give the crows any attention. She will not cave in. Something tells me she will find a way to survive. The little girl trusts her Mom and leans on her for comfort, yet there is the look of despair and fear on the girl's face. Perhaps they are running out of options and the child senses this.

The infant looks almost dead. It stares blankly with it's drawn in face as if it has no life left in it. Not even to cry.


Mimers said:
I look at this picture and I wonder is this woman walking away after being rejected? Is she now determined to make it without their help?

That was my first take when I looked at the card. She asked for help and was refused. So she squared her shoulders and decided to soldier on.


The little boy baby looks healthy to me. So does the little girl. The woman looks like she's in some kind of trance, though. Both of the children look very tired.

This is hard to explain, but sometimes when a woman is dysfunctional, she'll do things to hurt herself if she's been hurt in hopes the one who hurt her will be sorry for "causing" her to do this----for instance, one woman I knew who had been abused by her spouse had all her teeth pulled when she was only in her 20's just because her husband had broken a few of them in the front. All of them! It's that "cut off your nose to spite your face" syndrome, I guess you'd call it. It's sick, I know, but that's what this reminds me of. Women will deny their children life comforts right along with themselves in this odd behavior. A counsellor could articulate it better than I can. But that's what I see could be possibly happening here---a woman who has been hurt deeply in some way who is now proceeding right past a place that could give her and her children comforts they need just because something has happened in her life that she hasn't got the skills to cope with in a sane manner and she's hoping that the person who hurt her will be sorry for "causing" her to do this to herself and her children. It will be different in all readings depending on the other cards and the questions asked, of course. Back in Victorian times, I'm sure women resorted to this behavior much more than they do now.


Solitaire* said:
It's that "cut off your nose to spite your face" syndrome, I guess you'd call it. It's sick, I know, but that's what this reminds me of.

Yes, that's a really articulate description Solitaire. I see her in this way too. I think she is so wrapped up in her own hurt and disappointment that she's inflicting unnecessary punishment on herself and the children as a kind of revenge. She's beautiful, and it looks as though she was also once well off financially - she must have friends and aquaintances who would help her. So what is she doing wandering around with the half-dressed children? The church in the background is, by the way, dedicated to St Martin (I may already have said that here) so she is explicitly walking past a place of charity. One fears for the children.

Astraea Aurora

I wonder if she could be the stepmother of the two little children?

I can well imagine her taking care of her deceased sister's children shortly before she has lost all her financial security. There was no time for her to get acquainted to the fact that she is now a mother - so she takes care for them for the pure fact that she must do so. It seems like a burden to me. Because she doesn't want to carry that burden she ignores it and becomes so much egoistic. It's all too much for her to carry right now, the only reliable thing she sees and know well is herself.

Astraea Aurora :grin:

[Btw, pretty hard to interpret when it comes up in the position "What to do".]


Astraea Aurora said:
[Btw, pretty hard to interpret when it comes up in the position "What to do".]

Look around for some help!?