Ever since I started reading Tarot, I have felt that the Seven and Nine of Pentacles go together. As far as I can recall, this was not something that was ever taught to me; I don’t recall any Tarot book I’ve read or person I’ve met saying, “Oh, yes, of course, these two cards are paired”. And yet…
In my very first Tarot journal, my entries on the Minor Arcana were appallingly bare. It was easier for me to connect to the complexity of the Majors; the suit cards seemed like 56 inconveniences to be memorized by rote. (My opinion on this has since changed.) I learned the Minor Arcana first as simple sets of keywords, and only started to explore them in depth after I’d been reading Tarot for two or three years.
So, before I got further with my analysis, I present to you my notes on the Seven and Nine of Pentacles from that first bare-bones Tarot journal:
Seven: Patience; planting a seed
Nine: Reward after a wait; seed has grown into fruit
Even in my baby years, I sensed a connection between these two cards. The Seven begins a narrative arc that the Nine completes. With the Seven, we are beginning an investment, planting a seed and putting in work to cultivate it now, in the hopes that it will grow and flourish later. The Seven of Pentacles requires a certain degree of blind trust, because it represents the sort of long-term goals that (due to the indistinct, protean shape of the future) are never guaranteed to pay off. The seeds I plant in the spring might not become the bountiful harvest I need from them. Weather could interfere, a pack of wild ocelots could ravage my crop, or–for whatever other reason–my plants could just not grow. I can certainly hope that nothing will go wrong (and, to be fair, cases of mass ocelot hysteria are historically rather rare), but I don’t know for sure. The Seven of Pentacles is the work I put in now, when I’m ignorant of whether that work is going to pay off.
The Nine of Pentacles, on the other hand, is the moment of completion where I finally get what I’ve been working for. It’s the day of the first harvest, after a year of good rain, good sun, and a successfully installed ocelot-proof electric fence from Skymall Magazine. It’s payday. And that payday would never have come without the initial investment of the Seven.
Part of why I perceive this connection is, doubtless, in the imagery of the two cards. The Seven of Pentacles shows a gardener planting pentacular (Pentaclelike? Pentaclish?) seeds and watering them in the hopes that they will grow. The Nine of Pentacles shows a woman in the same garden surrounded by luscious pentaclefruit. And who ever said money doesn’t grow on trees?
Sure, you could argue that these are two different gardens, if you wanted to. They do both have mountains in the background, but the Seven doesn’t feature that distant chateau on the right-hand side of the Nine. Personally, however, I think it makes more sense to think of them as the same locale, viewed from two different angles. The plants in both cards appear to be grape vines; in the Seven, the grapes have not yet grown, while in the Nine, they are big and beautifully purple, ready to be turned into wine (presumably at the aforementioned chateau). The sky in the Seven looks to me like the color the sky gets on a cold April morning, while the sky in the Nine is the beautiful, saturated gold of an August sunset. To me, these cards have always looked like snapshots of the same place at two different points in time, a before-and-after of the process of cultivation and growth.
I could probably keep going with this idea, and talk about the Nine’s chateau as the same prosperous abode depicted in the Ten of Pentacles, or the architectural work-in-progress of the Three. Or I could fixate on the grapes and talk about the same image as it appears in the King of Pentacles. In fact, I think a convincing argument could be made that all fourteen cards of the suit of Pentacles take place in or around the same locale, but perhaps that’s a post for another time. The point I want to hammer home here is that the Seven and Nine of Pentacles are visually as well as meaningfully connected.
Why has this particular Tarot coupling been so much on my mind of late? Well, I’m currently sitting in a Seven of Pentacles spot, waiting for the Nine to roll around. As anyone who follows this blog regularly will know, I have been absolutely dreadful about posting consistently during the past couple of months. I think I had one post for all of November, and this is my first post in December. A far cry from the golden days when I used to post at least once per week, n’est-ce pas?
The reason I’ve been so absent from the Internet is that, for the past couple of months, I’ve been putting together applications for doctoral programs. My applications are finally submitted (all nineteen of them), and I’m incredibly relieved to have that off my chest, but I was overwhelmed by the workload and I simply wasn’t able to make time for my wee blog. Now that everything is done, I should have more time to get back on the weekly (or, at the very least, biweekly) schedule.
For now, I sit and wait. I have planted my nineteen pentacular seeds, and there’s nothing more I can do at this point to further my applications. I just have to wait and see whether the work I’ve put in is enough for the Nine of Pentacles to come my way.