What is this simple mandala, called by the archaic French denier? Card readers refer to it as a coin, a plate, a talisman, a pentacle. But could it be a molecule, a planet, or a star? The simple circular motif, curled about with wild vines growing in four directions, could be almost anything. And what the hell is a pentacle, anyway?
Let’s set aside the clumsy pentacle for the moment and simplify it back to the unpretentious truth: a pentacle is the same as a denier–just a coin. But to call this the suit of coins is on the one hand an oversimplification. The idea that this Tarot suit governs a querent’s financial life is limited, only useful in superficial readings. On the other hand, the idea of a coin invites us to explore what makes this suit so truly profound.
What is a coin? Nothing but a small piece of the Earth that carries the value of human work. It’s a means of exchanging energy, or resources, and it is itself a resource (like gold or copper). When you work forty hours for your coin and give it to a store, you are giving them your forty hours. The coin is only a vehicle for the transfer of your energy. The store gives you a bag of food, which carries an value equal to your forty hours. The food resources replenish your energy. Then you can work, and convert your energy into more financial resources.
These exchanges of energy keep life in motion. The whole process of evolution, from every flowering plant to every flourishing empire to every slimy prehistoric creature crawling out of a swamp, depends upon the flow of global resources. The sun warms the damp earth. The leaf photosynthesizes the sunlight into edible nutrients. The deer eats the sunlight out of the leaf, only to be eaten by a hunter, who uses the acquired energy to dig a mine. The mine produces iron, which she sells for currency. She uses the currency to found a central bank. This chain of events is a transfer of the same original energy. The Tarot coin is a coin, yes, but it’s more than that. It is the energy of the sun, the original power that energizes every coin, all our labor, and every living thing. A coin is human work. Human work is sunlight, developed.
The Curse of Humanity
The original work was to toil for our food. Work began when we crossed the threshold from animals to hominids, or when we left the Garden of Eden–whichever you prefer. Work is the curse of Adam. Now we pour our sweat into the soil, and in return we have organized crops. Your orchard captures the sunlight, and you eat the fruit to put the sunlight in your blood.
Unlike wild bushes, your crops can’t belong to you and your neighbor equally. Only you pour your sweat into them. So arises the concept of ownership and private property, crucial components of the curse, which give rise to the idea of money, the culmination of the curse. At it’s grandest, money is the ultimate manifestation of humanity’s plight and suffering: our disconnection from nature and the source of divine energy. At it’s most local, money is simply a symbol of the toil exerted to earn it. Our efforts grow out in every direction, like the four vines on the ace, or the four rivers flowing out of Eden, as we search the globe, looking to recapture our source.
The solar mandala on the ace of coins also calls to mind a compass, a globe, or even the orbits of the solar system. If you look at the mandala from another direction, it seems to be a molecule, or an atom with its orbits of electrons. Both perspectives are valuable. The suit of coins is about the building blocks of physical reality, the macrocosm and the microcosm. As the electron orbits the neutron, so we and our neighboring planets orbit the sun. What happens when molecules exchange electrons? They transfer energy and form a new compound. What about when celestial bodies collide? They change all their energy around, and begin orbiting each other as moons. The whole of material reality is one big dance of energy exchanges.
What’s the Matter?
The Tarot coins are the antithesis of the swords. Where the swords deal with the purely abstract, the realm of language and thought, logic and invisible concepts, the coins are about the strictly material.
But what is matter, when you look deeply into it? Is there anything solid at the heart of an atom? Of course not. It is a wave, energy, a vibration. It’s no different than sound, really, just a different octave. What is money, when you look deeply into it? The same. Substantially nothing. It’s like looking into the emptiness of space. What is food, when you look deeply into it? It’s the transfer of solar energy through waves of temporary bodies that fall off and decay as the sunlight takes on increasingly complex forms over eons. Your body is a vehicle for the evolution of sunlight.
The Tarot coins are a map of physical reality and a compass for navigating deeply into it. If you study, the coins cards can help you unlock the secret that has been lying in the heart of the earth since our grandfather stars exploded and conceived it. This secret is the Pearl of Great Price and the Philosopher’s Stone, as depicted on the ace of coins. It’s said to be so valuable that it’s worth selling everything you have to get it. So study your cards, and stay active.
As you study the suit of coins, pay attention to how you manage financial, energetic, and material resources in your personal life. Consider how you are spending the tremendous amounts of food energy it takes to sustain you over your lifetime. What result are you working to produce? How are you evolving? How are you encouraging others to evolve? Is your body healthy? Are you caring for your sunlight? The best use of resources is to build in a way that fosters growth. The Tarot can teach us a lot about this.
Pay attention as well to the flow of global resources. Who controls them? What does it mean for a nation to be wealthy? What is the goal of wealth and trade? What role do you play in this dance? The Tarot speaks in a quiet voice, but it quakes the foundations of the earth.
Coins gave way to the ordinary playing card suit of diamonds.