The five of pentacles depicts very poor people outside what looks like a church or building of some significance. They are in rags, with the child hobbling along on a crutch. Above them is an ornate glass window with the five pentacles displayed on it. The snow on the ground outside makes the setting all the more wretched.
Fives in the Tree of Life are associated with change and movement causing destruction. After the scene in the four of pentacles, where an obsessive man guarded his pentacles and was somewhat wealthy, the five of pentacles is certainly a sea change in fortune.
There are obvious meanings associated with the five of pentacles such as being wary of financial agreements, destitution, financial loss, misfortune or ill luck gambling. A business venture could be in trouble, we may be risking too much money on a transaction, a contract may not be all that it seems. We may be on a path that will lead to financial loss or in danger of making a wrong decision.
Away from material matters, the card warns us of loss in general. In relationships, a course or stance we are taking may lead to a loss of love. In matters of community, we may be the poorer for our actions. Ideas that we have for the future may lead us to a worse outcome than what we currently hold.
The five of pentacles overall does not portend good luck and fortune. It is a card of adversity. We may have to battle through tough times on our journey. We may be feeling poorer, either financially or spiritually. The building may be a church, a place where we should feel welcome even in times of destitution. Instead, the two poor souls almost seem locked out as they make their way through the harsh snow.
There are subtle meanings to be taken from this card also. We must query whether we are on the inside looking out. Maybe we have increased our pentacles from four to five and are ignorant of the needy around us. There might be someone in need that we do not see. Perhaps we know the two destitute souls outside and could help them – if only we could see them. Locked away behind the high walls and impressive windows, we do not see what is occurring around us. The five of pentacles could be telling us that our actions have consequences, in this case our inability to see outside our own four walls is affecting others.
Another meaning hidden within the card is the two souls ignorant of the building they struggle past. The windows are illuminated, there is wealth signified within the elaborate window. Yet they hobble on past, neither seemingly looking up at the window and the light it offers. The message here is that we may be so consumed by our misfortune that we fail to recognise a place or light that may guide us or help us. Even in the depths of our despair we must remember to look up, to allow the light to guide us or to knock and seek help. There is never any shame in seeking help.
Reversed: There are two general meanings to take from the five of pentacles reversed. The first is that it magnifies the meaning of the card upright. We may be in imminent danger of poverty or loss. We may not see people around us that need help. We are ignoring the light, place or people that could help us if only we had the wisdom to look up, inside or around us for help.
The second meaning of the five of pentacles reversed is that it could signal a change in fortune. In keeping with the meaning of fives in general, the card reversed may be telling us that we are about to come out of our poverty. We may be on the verge of recovering from our loss or that we are over the worst in our situation.