Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Lammas Harvest--Coins, Stones, Bread....

This posting is part of the Tarot Blog Hop...You may have gotten here from the writing of
Donna L. Faber, another participant in this journey. When you have shared the musings of the TarotWitch, you will journey to the home of  Kareena Narwani to continue the Lammas Hop... So--what about Lammas/Lughnassadh/First Harvest, and what about those Pentacles/Stones/Bread Loaves....what does this all have to do with--well, with anything? Let's have a look....

I have been drawn, in my thoughts on this topic, immediately to the Fives of the suit. Five is glowing in my mind in the form of Leonardo Da Vinci's famous Vitruvian Man, as I often show students the five points of the Pentacle by standing in this position:

Of course, this does represent the five attributes of the 'realized man'.. mind, will, spirit, body, and emotion. But if you will notice, the man actually has more than two arms and more than two legs... for da Vinci, this may just have been a way of exemplifying movement, but for us, we need to look at it as indicating the potential for the man to have more than the "basic attributes" of humanity, and that he may enlarge his capabilities to include creativity, compassion, insight, and many other qualities which stem from, but are not, the five "basic attributes"...i,e,, elements, in the non-magical sense, of humanity. And so, for me, Five encompasses more than the simple five elements, just as Lammas/Lughnassadh is about more than bread. And Pentacles are about more than "Earth". Let's take a look, again...

First, let's look at the traditional meaning of the Five of Pentacles. My own interpretation of Five as the Five Elements doesn't really seem to fit here, because the five of Pentacles in most decks represents the LACK of some, or all, of the elements of life--including food, clothing, shelter, companions, and happiness...But then, again, if one looks at it in a comprehensive sense, the Five of Pents may be telling the reader to utilize the "extras" we spoke of in the da Vinci drawing--find that compassion, find that donation to charity, find that helping hand, find that creative impulse, and make it possible for yourself, or for someone else, to transform "don't have" into "have and hold". And so--how does one do that? Well, let's take a peek at the cards...

I seem to have some kind of numerological construct going on here, because I have "five" in my mind, and not only are we exploring the Five of Pentacles, but we're going to be doing that using five different decks, and focusing not only on the differences between them but on the thread that links them together. I  am using the Haindl Tarot (my primary working deck), the Tarot of the Old Path, the Shining Tribe Tarot, the Psychic Tarot Oracle, and the Witches Tarot.  We'll discuss their various takes on Pentacles, Earth, Stones, Bread, Coins, and Fiveness, in no particular order. 

Let's begin with the Five of Stones from the Haindl Tarot. Here the Pentacles are represented by stones in their natural form, and the idea is that for some cards in the suit, stones are a building material, and for other cards in the suit, stones are an obstacle, the "rock in the road". Here, the stones have no apparent order, but lie at random, surrounded by dead trees and fading light. They represent the time of life when nothing is going well--lack of money, poor health, a wintery time of isolation. But one's eye is immediately drawn, in this picture of bleak chaos, to the red glowing spots on each stone, and on one of the dying trees. Perhaps the glow of a fire, just out of sight--perhaps the inner flame within the stone that may change it from "obstacle" to "building material" any case, the reminder that in the bleakest scene there is a glow of hope.

Moving to the second card on my journey, we see the Five of Pentacles from the Witches' Tarot. Notice here that the stones are a barrier, but the man in the rear is moving them out of his way. Behind him is light and beauty, but here is a narrow cavern cast in shadow, and yet he is carefully and deliberately making a path for himself right through the obstacles. I also notice the Pentacles inscribed on the stones. This image tells me two things: we have power over the obstacles in our lives, and each challenge may be a source of magical power, as the stones bear the pentacles, symbol of arcane balance. I am reminded here of the sacrifice of the Grain King at Lammas, giving his own body to make the bread and giving his Life for the Land. Sometimes we need to remember that in the bleakest of circumstances, our own act may be the only thing that will turn things around. 
 This message seems reinforced by the card from the Tarot of the Old Path. Here the man and the woman stand despairing, his hand too wounded to comfort her, her face covered in anguish...and behind them is the Tree, covered with the Pentacles of Power, but they are too distraught to look and see it. What are those Pents? Are they fruit to feed the hungry? Are they coins with which to buy food, clothing, shelter? Are they the magical tool of balance which will bring healing to the entire situation? This couple will never know, if they don't cease lamenting and wallowing in their despair, and turn around and look. A reminder here, that in the throes of despair, sometimes our only chance of pulling ourselves out of the slump is to Take Our Power....and that, even in the depths, we still HAVE power, personal power which is ours for the taking. No one feels sorry for Tailtiu, the mother of Lugh, whose sacrifice of her own life is the occasion of the funerary games of Lughnassadh. She did what she did of her own volition, to save the people. And so her life is celebrated. And the Harvest is there for the taking. We have only to look...

Next a card from Rachel Pollock's Shining Tribe Tarot. This one is dear to me because the artwork that inspired it is from my own home. Here is an analysis from Rachel's own commentary on the deck: "The image comes from a photograph by artist Steve Fitch of paintings in a place called Horseshoe Canyon, in Utah. After I'd actually drawn the picture and placed it as the Five of Stones I read that the Indians sometimes called these figures "ghost healers" The picture speaks of a very intense healing that comes from a deep place in our lives, as if it rises from the rock itself. It heals the body, but it heals the soul as well. In readings sometimes we can gauge a person's relation to their own need to heal from something by their reaction to this card. Some find it comforting, some exciting, some frightening." For our exploration of the Five of Pentacles and Lammas Bread, this card is particularly significant. "From his own body" the grain comes, where humans make the bread by the harvest sacrifice of the God. In illness, we only heal with the cooperation of our own body in ridding ourselves of infection. And for the Inner Wound, the Self is the only real healer. So--the "coin" of exchange, what we give over in order to elicit the harvest, is some facet of the Self, perhaps the Shadow, perhaps the exaltation of the Self in Power. Either way this image reminds us of the Ghost, the part of ourselves that is in every facet of our existence and that must be used in order to make our lives the Harvest we would wish. 

Our final card is the one from the Psychic Tarot Oracle, which is not really a traditional Tarot deck at all, excluding as it does the tens and court cards and replacing them with cards representing chakra correspondences. But this card called to me for the simple imagery of it. It is the hand of the seeker, and it is your hand, and it is a simple reminder that whatsoever will your harvest be, food, magic, wealth, health, or any other of a myriad of good things, you must gather it to yourself with your own hand, and that it is the five fingers of your own hand that represent da Vinci's fully realized man--your five senses, the five arcane elements, and the five Powers--to Know, To Will, To Dare, To Keep Silent, and To Evolve. These are always with you; they are your tools of Harvest, they are your way of being able to celebrate the turn of the year. With our five fingers, with our hands, we work, we rejoice, we touch in healing, we gesture with emotion, we soothe and comfort... In the final analysis, Lammas, and the Pentacles, are all about who we choose to become in the turn of the year, and what we choose to do with the five senses and the five fingers of our hands. We ARE the Sacrificial King. We ARE the obstacle, and the cure for the obstacle. And of course, we ARE the Harvest. 

The TarotWitch hopes you have enjoyed meandering through her musings, and invites you to Hop to the next step on our journey, the home of  Kareena Narwani And if for some reason this link won't take you there, go here to explore the entire Blog Hop. Journey well, and Happy Harvesting!


  1. This is a very powerful post on a card that most people never want to see come up. Thanks for putting such a positive message out using it.:)

  2. What an amazing post. I would so love to talk to you about the Haindl. I've been flirting with it for years but I'm wary. Thank you so much for what you've shared here in linking and explaining these five cards.

  3. The Five of Pentacles is certainly not one of my favorite cards, but I do love the one from the Psychic Tarot Oracle. Insightful.

  4. This was an insightful look at the 5 of Pentacles (I call it the Little Matchgirl card.) Thank you.

  5. I loved it ... love the cards, too. So many different decks and so much wonderful artwork!

  6. Thanks so very much for all the wonderful commentary! Much appreciated. I can not see anyone's name so if you want to talk to me about anything, send me an e-mail at, and we can chat.

  7. Lovely selection of 5 Pentacles cards and explanations - don't have the Shining Tribe and might just splash out for it now! Buying a deck - that's quite Pentacle-ish!

    Ali x

  8. Hi Aisling,
    Our names are there, just in an almost invisible font *doh*

    Loved this post - so much insight! And lovely to see someone take on one of the more challenging Pentacles cards and find the growth in it :) I especially like how empowering you are in your take on it - harvest by your own hand, sacrifice willingly for others, carve your own path, and be willing to look for the light that is still there in even the darkest hour :)

  9. That was great! As the previous poster (Chloe) said, very insightful. I really like how you kept exploring and exploring "fiveness."

  10. Very nice comparison look at the 5's. Last one best, though, for we are in charge of where we focus our attention and therefore where we find help, or not, and where our hand reaches for that abundance. But if we don't look around, we'll miss it....