Now here's a card I generally dislike when it comes up in a reading for me, personally. What do you folks make of it? All I can think of is miser, miser, miser...especially when looking at the guy's sour expression.
The four of pentacles is always making me think of a character in a tv show my grandpa was following. There was a movie made a few years ago based on that tv show (featuring Roy Dupuis). The caracter I think of have some similitude with the guy on this particuliar four of pentacles, at least for the attitude. I remember that this caracter was never smiling and always serious looking.
This card sometimes interprets as, holding on to something too tightly,money, relationship etc. Can also represent a possessive personality.
Also a person that could let money and material possessions rule their life. Hoarding your money, time or abilities. Maybe a time when you have lost sight of what really matters in your life.
Usually I like the 4 of Pentacles, but his facial look is so ... grim. For me it has ambivalent meaning. He's in that 'box', behind him / outside is a lively town. He has brought himself to that position and he can say 'I have enough of that. I want out.' But those people outside the box can also say 'You'd wanted into that box. We don't let you free.' He needs those outside people to free him. This card is some kind of denial of giving and taking. Taking enough to reach a stable and good position. Giving of what you don't necessarily need. Everyone knows that one needs to act like this, but there are times we neglect that humanitarian rule.
A proper revisit to the "Four of Pentacles" is in order for me. I still dislike this guy, as I previously wrote on this thread, but it's pretty obvious we're not meant to like him. After all, life is not all sunlight and flowers and not everyone is brimming with happiness and good intentions...at least not all the time. That said, there's a lot to learn and contemplate when such a sour card comes up in a reading. Robin's rendering of this miserly, distasteful man makes him come to life...albeit a miserable life...and shows just how lonely his actions have left him.
Being human, (and I'll speak for myself here), there are times when I want to clutch, even crush, something for fear it'll be taken away or I'll lose it forever...slipping away like a grain of sand through one's hand. This isn't my normal state of affairs, but I'd be a liar if I said the feelings/thoughts didn't pass through my being more than once in my life. Of course, the harder you hold on at those times and the more stubborn you become, the worse the situation often becomes. One can want to hold on to a moment, a person, a thing, an ideal, an opinion, etc. But if one doesn't take into consideration the feelings of others and the situation outside of what one wants personally (the BIG picture)...then much can go wrong, and we're left holding the bag, so to speak, ALONE. Sometimes we even "win" and get to keep "the prize," whatever it is...but at what cost? When I see this card in a reading I now sometimes view it as a warning and I ask, "Is it really worth it after all and might there not be a better way to go about things, yielding far more positive results?" Hopefully there's a way to undo any damage that might already have been done.
I can understand why Robin chose to set this man in his own castle, cut off from humanity and all its beauty. She says in her book, "And there he sits, with his back firmly turned to anything which might open his world, or take his mind off his obsession." He refuses to see anyone and no one can see him. Ultimately, people like this are forgotten, rotting away amidst their hard-won spoils.
Robin reminds us that when this card comes up in a reading for someone, we should remember "...whenever you have to give someone a hard truth like this to be as gentle and understanding as you can possibly be." Very good advice, indeed.
What's always been weird to me about this card is that if you're working with the accompanying book (Tarot Plain & Simple by Anthony Louis), the book seems to completely contradict the strong image that Robin Wood has used on the card.. In fact, "miserliness" is the key word that the book uses for this card in its reversed position. This guy clearly looks like a miser to me!
The book's key phrase for the upright 4 of Pentacles is "maintaining the status quo", and it seems to have more to do with the maintenance or acquisition of money and financial security than the greediness that might come with that.
If you look at this card from the Rider-Waite deck, Robin Wood's card is very similar in content: a man seated on a rooftop with the city behind him, coins under his feet, on his head, and in his hand. The major difference however is the facial expression. The man in the Rider-Waite deck seems content-- not necessarily happy- just maintaining the status quo. Obviously Robin Wood is making a big statement on "keeping up with the Joneses"... it's never going to make you happy- and in the end, it will just make you want more (greed).
Any time this card comes out in a reading I get answer via the "Red Hot Chili Peppers lyrics "Realize I don't want to be a miser
Confide with sly you'll be the wiser
Young blood is the lovin' upriser
How come everybody wanna keep it like the kaiser"
This card came up as a major influence on a confusing reading for me....am I focusing on material things too much? The most likely outcome was three of cups.... perhaps I need to reach out of my box in order for friendships to rekindle?
In this card I cannot help but notice the Ukraine flag in the background. I have no idea how to read that. Are the different flags just pretty colors, or do they have a special meaning? What is it specifically about Ukraine to be the setting for the 4/pents? Or is it just a silly coincidence?
Full disclosure: I don't own the Robin Wood, so I'm speaking in generic terms; it sounds from the description like it has an RWS foundation.
I always consider the minor cards according to where they sit in the numerical sequence. The man in the 4 of Pentacles (at least in RWS-based versions) is saying "Well, I got this far in good shape, think I'll just lock the door and count my money for a while." (Reminds me of the Disney character Scrooge McDuck, but perhaps less volatile and not quite so cranky.) It's a defensive response to the industrious material expansion of the 3 of Pentacles, because, as any speculator knows, rampant growth can't continue indefinitely, there has to be a "correction" followed by a "flat" spell of market drift. It can be seen as a claustrophobic card that is so self-absorbed and unimaginative that it's unaware of its own vulnerability, which is eventually exploited by the disruptive 5 of Pentacles that preys on the Four's inherent insecurity and myopic selfishness. But it also shows consolidation of power within a limited sphere of influence: when you're in his world there's no doubt who's in control. I see it as a good card for organizing your affairs and coming to a calm place of stability where you can take stock of things, a bad one for anything demanding vision and a willingness to "push the envelope" (there is no "outside-the-box" for this guy), or even simply the spending of money without agonizing over every penny. I tend to consider all of the Fours as "stuck" cards with stalled forward motion, at least for the moment: they're kind of like a windowless room that doesn't offer a view of the path ahead (or even the awareness that there is a path outside their door). They need what Monty Python once called in a sketch "being-hit-on-the-head lessons," delivered courtesy of the Fives.