I've read many descriptions of the Nine of Pentacles. We all have, so I don't
need to reiterate them here. However, one recurring comment pertaining to the Waite-Smith card raises a cautionary opinion that the woman has isolated
herself (or can become isolated) from others. I don't look at it quite that way and I like to entertain
the idea that perhaps Pamela Colman Smith didn't look at it that way either. I think people forget the times and
circumstances in which she lived as well as her temperament. I would imagine that, to her, the ultimate expression of wealth would also translate
to complete material independence from other people as well as control over one's own circumstances and environment. A figure standing alone in a
pleasant or prosperous setting would portray this idea quite well, which is what Smith did.
However, she took it even further. There were plenty of independently wealthy men in that era, but very few women. Most wealthy women had attained their station through marital or extramarital alliances. But a woman who had her own money and property along with the power to administer both was a rare figure indeed. To Pamela, such an individual would be the personification of the Nine of Pentacles. Someone who had not only the material means but also the independence to thoroughly enjoy and control it.
For me, the Nine of Pentacles is not just about one of these gifts, it is about
both all three in harmonious concert with each other: wealth (prosperity), independence, control.
Now, let's take it a step further. "Wealth" is a relative term. I'm sure Bill Gates' idea of wealth is vastly different from my own. I don't know what Smith's idea of wealth was. But if we look at the Waite-Smith Nine of Pentacles, we can speculate a little.
The woman in the card is dressed well, but she isn't dripping with jewels, nor does she have servants trailing behind her. She is simply out in her garden, enjoying it and the day. And that's the key. It's not the amount
of money she has that is the issue, rather, it is the fact that this woman has the luxury of time. Time to walk slowly and happily through her garden. She has no dishes to wash, no job to go to, no errands to run. Daily toil and trial have not etched their signatures upon her face and hands.
She has the ultimate gift that material prosperity means brings...time.
And, as is evident from the Smith card, she has the independence to control that priceless gift.
How much wealth, independence and control does she have? The answer is: she has enough. Enough to enjoy life at a more leisurely pace. Enough to bring that look of quiet contentment and fulfillment to her expression.
Personally, I've always thought assessments about the woman in the Waite-Smith deck having isolated herself from others was a rather stereotypical analysis. Were that a male figure in the same card, I don't think you would ever read such a comment. It is interesting to contemplate that, even in this day and age, some of us (men AND women) think that a woman alone is somehow incomplete. That she is isolated. Or in danger of becoming so.
Considering that, all these decades later, we still cannot wholly accept that image/concept, Pamela Colman Smith's depiction becomes even more apparently masterful.
So masterful, that I, as a woman, couldn't bring myself to veer away from it by introducing a different set of images.
The woman in my Nine of Pentacles is wealthy. She is independent. And yes, she is totally in control. The material world has given these gifts to her and she handles them well. Look in her eyes. Look at that warm, self-assured expression. There is no sign of coldness in her. This is not woman unaccustomed to human interaction or who turns away from it.
Do you see a woman who is lonely? I think not. If this woman is alone (and who says she is?), it is because she chooses to be so. The words "alone" and "lonely" have entirely different meanings.
Besides, I will not allow you to think of her as such, for I have placed her at the bottom of the grand staircase leading to her candlelit ballroom. Yes, "her" ballroom. The similarity of coloration between her beautiful dress and her elegant ballroom have been deliberately chosen to emphasize this point. See how perfectly she and her environment are matched and elegantly blended with each other. Note also that, even though the room is built upon a grand scale, the lady is neither dwarfed nor diminished by it. She is a perfect match for it, totally in command of it.
She stands in the center of her lovely dwelling waiting for her hundreds of guests to arrive. And when they enter her home, she will make them welcome...entertain them with beautiful music, food, wine and the company of
others. She is, after all, a symbol of her suit - Pentacles, the material world. Just a few cards away from her stands her sister, the Queen of Pentacles, who is one manifestation of the archetypal Empress.
Such a positive card...which begs the question: what if it appears reversed in a reading? In that case, you would want to ask yourself (as Mary Greer has so excellently instructed): how is that energy being blocked? Again, like all the tarot cards, this card is about balance. It is not just about wealth, control or independence. It is about all three and how successfully (or not ) you handle them. Remembering this raises all kinds of interesting and possible permutations with regard to balance and energy.
The lady in the card has already successfully balanced all three. The question then becomes: can we?
So here she is. I hope you enjoy and admire her. I know I do.
And perhaps one day, when we cease to think of such a woman as lacking in some way, I will decide to make a different Nine of Pentacles.