Queen of Pentacles: Sensual Materiality by Elisabeth Schilling

Most of us are trying to make it to a place of material comfort where we are living in a way that feels honorable. Some of us feel we could have made better decisions in the past so that we might have figured out how to do such before the age we are now. I recently did a tarot card reading that I interpreted as mainly positive or neutrally-revelatory. But one of the cards stood out from the rest, and I really didn’t understand it. I was feeling positive that day, and, even though I have often felt unsure and longing in my recent travels despite all I have accomplished materially and psychologically, I have to say it wasn’t a card I was expecting: the III of Swords, which symbolizes disappointment and heartache, especially due to mental happenings. What could I feel heartache at? Perhaps I am disappointed that creating that place of safety and material comfort seems a long way down the road.

When I have a card I interpret as negative, I seek further guidance through a second reading. I ask the universe to present cards that can show me how I can approach this obstacle. Just to explain, I feel tarot readings are a mix of intuition + faith + magic. Honestly, I love the idea of the universe/my intuition having something to do with selecting the “right” cards. How to explain it? Is it truly convincing to me? Faith is an aspect of play, and I feel, explainable or not, if we feel we are served by it, then whatever keeps us in good spirits with a little lightness, humor, and hope, if it harms none, then why not? The other aspect, in my opinion, considers that, regardless of the cards drawn, our subconscious is filled with direction we can wisely utilize and this is oft revealed when it is triggered by a creative, artistic, symbolic rendering of some medium. That medium can be a tarot card or two.

So the cards in my expanded reading turned out to be all pentacles, the suit of the earth, materials, tangibles, our environment, the money. The three (3) cards: Pentacles III, Queen of Pentacles, and Palace of Pentacles. I use Lee Bursten and Ciro Marchetti’s Tarot of Dreams, and in this deck there are palace cards, which indicate a type of environment. I am sort of thrilled any time I see a pattern, and for my dense brain, the more obvious, the better. So all three cards in one suit say loudly and clearly (and rather wonderfully) which of the elements (water, earth, fire, air) I need to look toward. I want to focus specifically on the Queen because she gives the guidance I think could be an oracle, a solution, a directive for many of us who might feel sinking ankle deep in a swamp of heartache and disappointment due to our somewhat slow-moving paths: sensual materiality.

Queens are the ones who are feeling, characterized by a serene maturity (rather than undeveloped and immature like the Pages or a controlling authority figure like the Kings). According to Bursten and Marchetti, the Queen of Coins enjoys the finer things in life on a creative, intimate level like a gourmet chef, exercising her craft for the sheer pleasure of it. She nurtures others and herself through her craft and is wise enough to know she doesn’t need to be harsh or struggle to manipulate her path by destruction or force. Rather, as the authors suggest in the guide book to the tarot deck, “she is more likely to try to train a branch to grow in a different direction rather than to lop it off.” To me, all this reads as material effort that is sensual.

When we feel stuck, sometimes we perhaps want to struggle, pant, yell, and behave rashly in our desperation or suffocation. But getting this card reminded me that if the way to liberation is through our craft, then we can remain artists through the embodied, the sensual, feeling our way through.

In more explicit terms, I think that means continually readjusting to be nurtured and enjoy through the process of work and creation, approaching every task with presence, mindfulness, and love. It is difficult when we are constricted in a small space, our movements having the tension of walls. But to find breath in the struggle is the only option I sometimes see. Also, I will tell you what someone in my life is telling me: give yourself some credit. Self-gratitude, goddesses. Maybe make a little list of, despite how far you have to go, what you have accomplished materially, emotionally, spiritually. We cannot, as far as I know, go back and work harder or differently. Our life begins today realistically. If we just dropped into existence today, how might we see things in a less-regretful light? You can borrow my tarot reading. It might be a message for you as well.

Elisabeth S., Ph.D., graduated in 2014 from the Women and Religion program at Claremont Graduate University. She teaches online composition from a contemplative pedagogical approach at Oklahoma State University. Currently, she is working on a chapbook of poetry and traveling through Iceland, Spain, and Ireland. 

Author: Elisabeth S.

Elisabeth S. has a Ph.D. in Religion from Claremont Graduate University (2014) and teaches philosophy, literature, creative writing and composition in Colorado.

6 thoughts on “Queen of Pentacles: Sensual Materiality by Elisabeth Schilling”

  1. Thank you for the post. I enjoyed. I have been hosting Circles on new and full moons for four years. After meditation, the women bring a variety of decks, and we ask ourselves questions and pull cards before then writing in our ‘intention book’. I completely agree with you about them being a mixture of intuition, faith and magic. I had to work through my Catholic upbringing about them being ‘evil’ (warned by my mom growing up), but I believe when I pull cards, I am asking for Divinity to help guide me, the Divinity within myself that already ‘knows’ the answer, but the cards help me figure out what I already know. A lot of the women prefer the Oracle decks which are more just inspirational without the negative, but I am drawn to the Tarot. That is how we grow, through struggles, right. Also resonate strongly with your first two sentences: “Most of us are trying to make it to a place of material comfort where we are living in a way that feels honorable. Some of us feel we could have made better decisions in the past so that we might have figured out how to do such before the age we are now.” Many blessings on your travels.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, love. Wow, I would be so happy to find your Circles and join. I love the moon. I want it. I crave it as I do a community of women. Where are you? This sounds like an amazing group. Yes, I internalized so much toxic disapproval from my own maternal religious (Protestant) figure whom I had to hide my first Oracle cards from. Now I don’t have them. But I’m glad I’m in a space and place where there is distance and I am safe exploring these waters. I find any religion can embrace and re-envision spiritual tools from any other religion. Why limit ourselves in terms of what can heal. Thank you so much for sharing and your well wishes. I want the same for you.


  2. What I find interesting in your use of Tarot, thanks Lache S, is that you seem to contemplate and understand its symbolism with great love. Also delightful the wisdom, this insight where you say: “she is more likely to try to train a branch to grow in a different direction rather than to lop it off.” Wonderful insight on how we too can solve some of our own challenges in that same delightful way.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can remember many many years ago being drawn to Tarot deck… I used the rider deck for one year… discovering for myself the reality of the patterning of energy that shifts in concrete ways. Working with the Tarot made energy REAL to me… after a year I discovered animal cards – and that was the end of my use of the Tarot… 30 years later I know why. The Tarot was based on Christian principles that I was leaving behind… My muse was becoming Nature. Looking back I see how the kings queens etc reinforced patriarchy in subtle and not so subtle ways.

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    1. Yes, I also tend to be suspicious of the gendered roles and associated essentialist tendencies of the Kings and Queens in Tarot. I am less familiar with the Christian principals although I do faintly remember reading a narrative that emphasized the archetypal elements of the Major Arcana Fool’s Journey in Christian rhetoric, but I think I mentally tossed it aside so I wouldn’t have to look at it that way/can ignore what doesn’t serve me. I think the masculine/feminine categorical division brings up such pain because of how it has been used for oppression in various cultures and also rigidly without variation. I wonder if that hadn’t been the case, we could accept symbolism inclusive of masculine and feminine and male and female with less resistance, knowing that version of representation is not the only version.


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