When I was younger I used to watch the circus on television. The tightrope walker was always my favorite part. Not fully understanding the technique, I’d ask my mother:
“What’s she holding the umbrella for? In case she falls?”
My mom would then patiently try to explain to me that it was to help her keep her balance. I could never totally wrap my head around the idea that carrying something else made you more balanced. I figured if you had to carry an additional weight along with you, you’d be more likely to fall.
The Two of Pentacles is often misunderstood the same way. It’s very common to look at the Rider-Waite image for the card and see someone trying to balance two disks. My big question, upon hearing this interpretation, has always been: “Aren’t Pentacles the Earth suit? Shouldn’t they be pretty balanced on their own?”
The answer is yes, and we need to take a closer look at the card.
In the background we see ships sailing out on the ocean. The ocean is rocking, and the waves are enormous. The man in the foreground can barely keep his footing, and he hangs onto the two disks, which are looped together, almost like a balance pole. When we look at the card closely we realize that the Pentacles are the only stable things in this card.
It’s natural to try and bring balance to the earthy areas of our lives. We balance our checkbooks, balance work with play, juggle our career and family, etc. What this card teaches us is that sometimes those ‘earthy,’ consistent, dependable things are what we need. These are the things that ground us, that keep us from flying away or tipping over. Sure, a full-time job can get in the way of going out to party all the time, but wouldn’t a person who partied all the time be more likely to fall off that metaphorical tightrope?
When we feel our life getting away from us, when we’re feeling unbalanced, and like we could lose our foothold in reality, we need to hang on to the Pentacles of our lives. Honor those things that keep you down-to-earth, and the Pentacles you carry with you will help you keep your balance.
Good luck on your tightropes!