In my last post, I talked about the relationship between the Seven and the Five in each suit of the Minor Arcana: The Five presents us with strife and trouble, and the Seven revisits that strife with a mature perspective that gives us the tools to handle it. Naturally, then, the question arises: What’s the role of the Six? In each suit, the Six is situated between the Five and Seven (because that’s how counting works—no big revelation there). Thematically, then, what do the Sixes do in the Minor Arcana in order to facilitate the shift in perspective that happens between the Five and the Seven?
People throw out a lot of numerological keywords about the Sixes in Tarot, including things like “growth,” “balance,” or “change.” Personally, I like to think of the Sixes as cards of redistribution and reevaluation. Coming off the heels of the problems we encountered in the Fives, the Sixes are the cards where we take stock of our lives and figure out what needs to change in order to avoid encountering those problems again. The Sixes are the tipping point that shift us from the problem to the solution.
Six of Pentacles
The Six of Pentacles is a redistribution of wealth. It’s the charitable donation that helps get us out of poverty, so that we can begin to recover from the Five. From there, once we actually have resources, we’re able to invest those resources wisely and save money for the future. This is only possible, however, if we have money to save, and when you’re in dire poverty, you don’t have that luxury until someone else helps you out.
Six of Swords
The Six of Swords is an intellectual redistribution, rather than a physical one. We encounter this card after the hopeless events of the Five of Swords, where we were fighting a battle there was no way we could win. In this context, the Six of Swords is the process of mentally going over those events, analyzing them, and trying to figure out what went wrong. This gives us the insight needed to realize the only way to win an unfair game is by cheating—which is exactly what we do in the Seven of Swords.
Six of Cups
The Six of Cups straddles the space between grief over the what could never be and fantasy over what might be. In that middle space, the Six gives us fond memories of what actually was. It reminds us that the past was good, and that we can look back on it fondly rather than with the sorrowful self-pity of the Five of Cups. This plants a seed of hope and positivity, and allows us to bring that same hopeful attitude toward our perspective on the future in the Seven of Cups.
Six of Wands
The Five and Seven of Wands are both battles—one offensive and one defensive. In the Six of Wands, we see someone who has won the first battle and is celebrating his victory. This victory opens him up to the onslaught of the second battle, however—because as the victor, he now has something that other people want, and they’re going to attack him and try to take it from him. The celebration of victory in the Six of Wands makes our central character the object of envy, and shifts his role from that of conqueror to one of defender.