When I read for anyone who knows a little about tarot or for someone who is sitting and viewing the images with me, I can feel their deep sigh when a ‘tarot 5’ turns up. The 5 of Cups, Wands, Pentacles, and Swords are far from uplifting images, especially when they land in a clients future. Who wants to be faced with loss of any kind?
When I began to learn the tarot, I looked at the numbers within the suits and compared them to their tarot parents in the Majors. I could see how the solitary figures of the four 9’s compared to the ninth Major, The Hermit. I could see the rigidity in the cards governed by The Emperor. However, the blessings of The Hierophant made little sense when connected to those painful 5’s. I mean, look at them! Do those two figures, out in the cold in the 5 of Pentacles, look blessed to you?
I have learned that real growth and self-understanding usually comes from the difficult situations in life. Of course, loss, heartbreak, and grief is never a pleasant experience, but for some of us, they can teach us lessons about what and who are important in life. Often, we cannot see that at the time, even when the tarot is nudging us to take a look beneath the debris. Have you ever looked back at a situation that seemed the worst possible thing at the time, but actually ended up being the best thing that could have happened in hindsight?
Here’s an example –
Many years ago, my parents went through a tough time with some very difficult neighbours. Their relationship had previously been harmonious with the family of four but eventually, everything turned sour and resulted in my parents putting their house on the market.
After changing estate agents, hundreds of viewings, and redecoration, they finally got a bite from a buyer. Around that time, they also found a house they liked. Due to one thing or another, the house sale eventually fell through two times and my parents really felt the loss on the second occasion. Living next door to these problematic neighbours, they wondered if they’d ever be able to find a house as good as they already had and watched as their money began to slip away on one estate agent fee after another.
These days, my parents live in a detached bungalow in a quiet and picturesque spot, overlooked by woods and hills. They have wonderful neighbours and they bought their house for a good price, allowing them to put in a new kitchen, bathroom and pay for other things to be added and redecorated.
The situation with the neighbours was a stressful time. The falling through of the sale for the other house was too. But when they look back, they realise they’d still be living next to those selfish people if our relationship with them had not broken down. They can also see how this house is far nicer than the one they lost and is in a quieter area than both that and the one they were previously living in for twenty-something years.
Blessings, right? Here’s another –
My mother was unwell last year. We spent a worrying two weeks at home with her, not knowing what was wrong; she spent the second week sleeping and feeling dizzy. Doctors visited, she went to A&E, and everyone she spoke to suggested that nothing serious was wrong. They prescribed medication for an inner-ear infection, but it made little difference.
By the end of that second week, things seemed worse. I went to the chemist on the Friday evening to pick up the increased meds but the lady on the till told me that they had not come in. Knowing how sick my mother was, this was a big worry. It felt like the worst possible thing at the time. I called my Dad and, in desperation, he called 111 and the paramedics came to the house.
While all of this was going on, I spoke to someone else at the chemist. After ten minutes of going through emails and checking this and that, they found her medication.
To cut a long story short, the paramedics took my mum straight to hospital. They said her blood pressure was dangerously high and her sodium levels were dangerously low. It took a further week for the hospital to realise she’d suffered two strokes.
So, where is the blessing here?
When we couldn’t locate that medication (which had been prescribed for the misdiagnosed inner-ear infection), it felt like the worst possible thing that could happen. In fact, it was the best possible thing to happen. We might have continued to give her drugs for the wrong complaint, while all the time, her high blood pressure and low sodium levels could have ended up being fatal.
In hindsight, I can see this.
You might be wondering how this relates to the tarot 5’s. Like these two examples, a tarot ‘5’ might appear to be the worst possible thing for you when you draw it. But is it really? Is it not a heads-up, a divine message, or a red-flag?
Might the end of a relationship, as shown by the 5 of Cups, actually be a blessing rather than the end of your entire world? The card actually alerts us to this possibility because two full cups stand behind the figure, hinting at new and healthy relationships as a potential for the future. I’m sure I am not the only one who has fallen to pieces at the end of a relationship, not aware that my perfect partner was just around the corner.
The 5 of Pentacles came up in a reading for a client recently in a future position. Oh God, you might think. How are we going to interpret that without worrying the person we are reading for?
The potential future position is a great place to find a card like this as it is the equivalent of killing your speed ahead of time because you know a police-camera or a sharp bend is coming up. Knowing that physically demanding times could be ahead allows for a person to be prepared. They can tighten their belt if needs be, save a little, or at least know what is on route, rather than hurtling towards the future at 100mph and regretting it.
This kind of information is a blessing, yes? Wouldn’t you rather have a heads-up than face the prospect blind? If we think back to our caring Hierophant, it also reminds us that help and support is available.
Tarot ‘5’s’ needn’t be all doom and gloom. All that is needed is a shift of perspective. When a card like the 5 of Wands turns up, it could be a case of ‘what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger’. The difficulties it brings only encourages and allows us to build up our resilience. When a card like the 5 of Swords enters your reading, ask yourself what you can gain from this difficult experience, rather than what you have lost.
Appreciating the difficult cards in the tarot deck does not soften their impact or change their meaning. It simply allows you to use their energies in a productive way. The tarot deck gives us all kind of hints and advice for modern living. Why not use it for our best good, rather than let it control us?
So when you are hit with one, two or even three 5’s in a reading, rather than letting them flummox you, firstly ask yourself or your client ‘Where lays the blessing?’. If you take a deep breath and change your perspective, letting go of fear, you will always find one.
If you’d like a session of tarot mentoring, why not email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
Illustrations from The Original Rider Waite by Pamela Colman Smith