This is the second in a four part series that explores each of the tarot's suits through my personal lens, a (light) historical lens, and through examining cards from several decks I enjoy.
It's Virgo season and fall is on everyone's minds, which means I'm feeling pretty earthy these days. As an Earth sign myself I always feel most at home during the earth seasons, and the start of fall makes me feel more connected to my partner (a Virgo) and the outside world. I stay outside longer instead of running indoors to the air conditioning. I walk my dog when it's daylight and say hi to people on the sidewalk. I put on cozy sweaters and sip tea and dream up stories while I snuggle with my pets.
Fall is usually a time of goal mapping for me. Summer exhausts me, so when September rolls around I'm ready and eager to start anew. Ready to make changes, take new steps, say "yes" to new projects, and embrace family holiday time. As my end of year review draws closer it makes me think about what I've accomplished and where I want to go when the new year starts.
All this earthiness has me thinking about the suit of coins, the earth suit of the tarot. Many people are a bit turned off by the suit of coins, because money and physical possessions are often associated with greed, covetousness, and lack of spiritual depth. I think coins are extremely misunderstood for this reason; many of my most meaningful and spiritually incisive readings have centered on coin cards, and I am continually surprised by their depth and nuance.
No matter how hard we try to separate them, our physical world affects our emotional, intellectual, and spiritual worlds. The body is the tangible structure that houses the ethereal other parts of ourselves, and the environment our body is in affects our overall health. We have physical needs that are met by exchanging money for goods and services, at least on some level. Like it or not, your financial wellbeing plays a huge part in your spiritual wellbeing. Have you ever been in significant debt? Stared at zeroes in your checking account? Struggled to buy groceries or pay rent? Do you remember how you switched into survival mode? How there was little energy and time available for anything other than anxiety, worry, and frantic scurrying to make ends meet? Most of us have faced this kind of stress at some point, and it heightens our animal survival instinct, crowding out our spiritual selves.
The suit of coins guides us through the inevitabilities of living in a capitalist society. One of the reasons why I tolerate the overt Christian patriarchal imagery in this deck to the extent that I do is because it grapples with the challenges and obstacles of living in a capitalist society. There are many scenes depicting work, toiling and difficult work, in exchange for money. There are obvious class divides between "white collar" professions (the architect, the clergy) and the "blue collar" workers (the smith, the ditch digger). The cards show pain caused by paid work. They show the abundance of luxuries and necessities that are bought by this paid work. It is a very relatable suit, and an extremely practical one. Most people have questions about their careers as often as they have questions about their love lives. So, basically, I love digging into the sweaty, unsexy, unglamorous, practical parts of a querant's life with these cards.
The Eight is my favorite coin card. An artisan carves out the pentacle on each coin, over and over again. The coins are stacked orderly in a line, giving the impression that the stack grows ever taller, past the top of the tree extending into the heavens. He has a serene expression. Though he obviously works hard and long to perfect his craft, he's pleasantly engrossed in his work. None of the stars are alike, none are perfectly even, indicating that the artisan still has to practice to truly perfect his craft.
The card emphasizes the importance of doing the work for the sake of doing the work and getting better at your craft. The end goal is not glory or recognition, but genuine satisfaction in improvement and incremental progress towards mastery. Practicing things that matter and taking daily, small steps towards our goals is just as valuable as they payoff, if not more so. Too many people focus only on the outcome and get discouraged when they don't make progress as quickly as they envision. By finding value and peaceful meaning in the daily "doing of the thing," we can find true satisfaction with our material lives and accomplishments rather than constantly striving for the next fleeting payoff.
The Three of Coins is all about unity, teamwork, and collaboration. In the Rider-Waite card, an architect, a clergyman, and a worker are all standing together mapping out the building plans for a new cathedral. All three recognize that everyone on the team brings a vital skill, and that none of them can meet their goal alone. Even though the architect may be seen as the more educated, skilled team member, he knows that his designs and blueprints are useless without the worker's strength and time, and so on with the other members of the team.
I love that this card from the Golden Thread tarot emphasizes unity and equality by using pyramids and making all three of the team members the same height. The simplicity of the lines and stark contrast between the black and gold make for my favorite coin card aesthetics, because the coins are literally a shiny gold, just like money in real life. While interpretations of color, shadow, and visual nuance are erased in this deck, the symbols are emphasized by the stark lines and two color palette. When we focus on the pyramid, we realize that we can't choose a corner that is more important than any of the others. Without all three corners, the pyramid would cease to exist.
It's extremely important to "find your people" in order to be materially successful. Find the team that you can truly collaborate with and recognize everyone's strengths and contributions equally is essentially to career satisfaction and growth. When one member is constantly trying to outshine the others or throw them under the bus, the team, or pyramid, disappears.
If you're having career struggles or anticipating changes in your physical surroundings or financial situation, coin cards can provide a lot of insight, guidance, and wake up calls! Don't shy away from really digging into what it means to exist as a physical being in a physical, material world. Your money and your career matter just as much as your spiritual life, and making sure these aspects of your material life are healthy will keep them from overtaking your spiritual wellbeing.