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Tarot Talk: the Knight of Pentacles

Author: Ignacio Ceja [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: April 30th. 2017
Times Viewed: 3,681

Knights are the embodiment of elemental fire within the Royal court. The Knight of Pentacles is the fiery aspect of earth. Knights are trained and educated fighters who go on quests, winning and conquering, although not always with a sword. Knights are characters of action. The Knight of Pentacles seems to be the opposite of his contemporaries. In the Rider-Waite inspired decks, he* sits upright on a horse that is going nowhere. He holds a pentacle, but he does not look at it; instead, he looks off into the distance. Looking, but not moving, he is still. He is patient. Where is the action? Where is the adventure? This is the mystery of the Knight of Pentacles, and one that is often misunderstood. The Knight of Pentacles is a person of measured action who takes a long view, directs his attention toward a specific goal, and takes measurable steps toward its attainment

In five of the decks examined in this series, the Knight sits on a horse, holding a pentacle, a disk, or in the case of the Halloween Tarot, the Knight of Pumpkins holds, you guessed it, a pumpkin. Yes, the Halloween Tarot is different like that, keeping its Halloween theme in this manner. Its other suits are Halloween themed as well. It works. In any case, the Knight faces the right side of the card, the direction of the future. His horse is standing still; and in the case of the Thoth Tarot, bending its head toward the earth. Around him, fields are sown and the crops are flourishing, linking the Knight of Pentacles to agriculture. This agricultural link is enhanced by the Thoth Tarot, in which the Knight is holding a flail, an old tool for threshing wheat. The Knight of Pentacles is not otherwise armed. In two of the decks, the Gothic Tarot by Joseph Vargo, and Barbara Moore’s Steampunk Tarot, the Knight is not looking to the right, but instead is contemplating the viewer. In the Gothic Tarot, the Knight stands amid skulls and wolves. In the Steampunk Tarot, the Knight is walking into view from the right.

The Knight of Pentacles takes the long view. This is represented by his looking off to the right. He is present in the present, but his focus is on the future. The does not mean that he is neglecting the present; one does not become a knight by daydreaming. He works in the present, he works very hard in fact, but his work is guided by his focus on a particular goal. He does not take his eyes off this goal. It is his over-arching focus, and his guiding light. This is the same focus that an Olympic athlete has, training for an event with a particular result always in mind. Everything the athlete does, eating, resting, and training are guided by this ultimate goal.

The Knight of Pentacles focuses his attention toward a specific goal. This is not to say that he has only one goal. In our everyday world, we have multiple things on our plates. We have homes to clean and maintain, we have work to do, and we have to get dinner on the table. We have to think about our health. We have to consider our finances. We have to get the car’s oil changed. And that’s not nearly all of it. We could have at least one goal in every major area of life. The tarot, as a living book (thank you Rachael Pollock) evolves with us. The Knight of Pentacles shows us by example to keep an eye on our goals while we do our work.

The Knight of Pentacles takes measurable steps toward his goal. This is immeasurably important, pun intended. Progress is only made by taking steps in the right direction. This kind of logic is easy to overlook. Getting to California via Spain is possible, but wouldn’t it be better to hop in a car heading west, or better yet, book a flight directly there? It’s the same with any goal. Making a decision, and then a plan to lose weight is fine, but then sitting on the couch instead of taking the first step is counterintuitive. We can only get to our goal by following the plan or steps that take us to our goal. Keeping track of these steps as we do them is the best way to keep from being discouraged while pursuing a goal, especially if the goal will take some time to achieve. Remember, the Knight of Pentacles does not shy away from work.

The Knight of Pentacles represents certain, though perhaps slow and steady progress. Perseverance is one of his watchwords. He takes responsibility for his actions and his use of time. He stays busy, but he must always check in on himself to ensure that the work he is doing is diligent and not merely busy work that takes him nowhere. As Jim Rohn said, it’s easy to busy and only making figure eights. In this, he is ever practical in the way he applies himself. Because he is in it for the long haul, he must ensure that each action counts.

People who embody the Knight of Pentacles come from all walks of life. They dedicate themselves to a future goal, and try to ensure that every job they do in the meanwhile, no matter how small, takes them in the direction of that goal. This type of person may have several goals, usually one dedicated in each are of his life, be it home, financial, career, health, etc. This does not mean that every goal will get hit at the same time. Sometimes one goal may take many years to come to fruition.

The person represented by the Knight of Pentacles is a hard worker who, despite difficulties, looks ahead. He is in the farmer who sees the harvest while sowing the seed in springtime. He is the CEO who sees the fifty new markets opening up, while building the first one. He walks beside the parents who work day and night to make sure their children get a college education. The Knight of Pentacles understands this dedication, and keeps working no matter how long it might take, even if he knows that the goal may not be reached in his lifetime. We can all think of at least one person who worked and fought for a goal that was not reached until after they died.

All Knights face hardships. There is always a dragon to be slain, but sometimes the worst dangers are found within. One of the dangers facing the Knight of Pentacles is perfectionism. Perfectionism is a false idea that satisfaction cannot be gained unless everything, even the smallest thing, is just right. Under the guise of being a perfectionist, the Knight can fall victim to becoming lost in the details, usually the smallest and most unimportant details. When this happens, he loses sight of his goal as he tries to make details unnecessarily fall in line with an unrealistic ideal.

Another risk to the Knight of Pentacles is taking on too much. The Knight is a worker, to be sure. He wouldn’t be in the fields holding a threshing tool if he weren’t, but no one works alone, and even knights don’t usually make their own armor. If the Knight cannot, or will not delegate the portions of the task that he cannot do well, he can get stuck in stubbornly trying to make do with less than adequate tools or procedures, or he can be stuck trying to do something that a more skilled person could do better. All this, also, takes his sights off his ultimate goal.

Another enemy of the Knight of Pentacles is procrastination. Having a goal is great, but never getting started, or starting and not finishing, will prevent any form of accomplishment. This is akin to fruit withering on the tree, or in our case, a goal dying inside us. This is one of the points in the decision making process where we find the difference between a goal and a wish. A goal inspires action. A wish does not. A wish is a dream without any ties to reality. A goal is a dream with actionable steps toward its reality. Procrastination will turn a goal into a dream that dies before it even gets started.

All of these dangers involve the Knight of Pentacles losing sight of his goal and becoming mired in the present. It’s easy to get lost hammering away at a nail and lose sight of the house that is being built. He must instead do his best, let others help him along, and get on with the business and details that help him succeed, and keep at it.

The Knight of Pentacles appears to be still or slow moving but every action counts as he makes his way toward his goal. Like the tortoise and the hair, he may only plod along at 1000 yards in a day, but that gets him farther than one who runs 750 yards in an hour and then stops to sleep the rest of the day. Ultimately, the Knight of Pentacles wins.

In summary, the Knight of Pentacles represents goal making, forward thinking, looking ahead, making plans, taking measurable steps, working steadily in support of a goal, being patient, being dedicated, keeping your eyes on the prize. The Knight of Pentacles must be wary of losing sight of his ultimate goal, getting lost in the details, getting mired in the present, taking on too much, the fear of delegation, perfectionism, and procrastination.

* I have used the masculine pronoun in this essay because all of the Knights of Pentacles I reviewed were male. I have done this for simplicity, and not to exclude. In any of the essays where even one of the characters are female (three of the Knights from Barbara Moore's Steampunk Tarot are women) , I will use the female pronoun.


Ignacio Ceja

Location: Norfolk, Virginia

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