Sunday, October 9, 2011
Four of Pentacles
We are living in such interesting times as we observe the civil protests of Americans against the policies of greed on Wall Street and in other locations across America. The relevance of today’s card in light of the greed that threatens to consume us is only too obvious.
This card depicts a man clutching a pentacle to his chest in a greedy gesture, in doing so he holds his heart at ransom. Another pentacle hovers above his head indicating that his focus and attention is on nothing other than his wealth, it drives his every motivation and thought. He has stacked a pile of coins beneath his feet on which they stand, elevating him “above the masses” as it were, almost as if his money renders him higher than the citizens of the city that lies in the distance behind him and from which he has turned his back and removed himself. It also implies that he is in bondage to his wealth as he dares not lift his foot in the event that he will no longer have control of the money that he holds.
What a terribly fearful way to live… Greed. Greed serves no-one but itself. It is an all-consuming monster that lurks within each of us and can easily consume us if left unchecked.
Mythology tells us the story of a man who paid a dear price for allowing his greed to control him. This man was known as Midas. He was a good man, a kind man who took pity on an elderly satyr asleep in his garden. Midas let him go without punishment. As a reward for his good deed the god Dionysus granted him one wish. Midas did not take time to consider what to wish for, had he done that he might have chosen something different… Instead he immediately asked for everything he touched to turn to gold. And so it was.
His beautiful garden turned ridged as it turned to gold, he could not eat or drink as that too solidified and turned to gold. And finally his beloved daughter who ran to him in loving embrace turned into a golden statue. Midas was grief stricken and begged the god Dionysus to relieve him of his curse. The god took pity on him and once again granted his wish. Thereafter Midas became poorer than he had ever been but so much happier.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wealth, money in itself is not the root of all evil. It is in fact a wonderful instrument that – when used generously and wisely – can contribute to the happiness and fulfilment of many lives. It is greed, the uncontrolled urge to accumulate riches at the expense of others for no reason other than self-centred superiority that is the root of so many problems. It is when our greed becomes our motivating force that we put profits before people as the elite few on Wall Street have done to the average 99% of Americans today. This is evil and this is what we need to guard against.
Generosity of spirit is what we want to develop within ourselves instead, not only generosity with our worldly possessions, but with our time and our attention too.
I was watching a lecture about the Mayan Calender this weekend, in which it was stated that the age we live in now is the age in which ethics must and will overthrow the structures of power. I think we are seeing the manifestation of that now as we look around us at the current affairs of the world today. Greed mongers are being named and shamed by the masses who are no longer afraid to protest against unethical practices. The world is increasingly becoming outspoken against the illegal and greed-driven practices of the elite few trampling the rights of the average many. We see this too as humanitarians take matters into their own hands and demonstrate this in their actions while they speak out against countries like Israel in their treatment of the suppressed people of Palestine.
The time is now to re-evaluate and redefine what represents wealth in our world. Is it the unchecked accumulation of ill-gotten gains at the expense of others? Or is true wealth better defined by how we share ourselves and lend our support to those less fortunate than us to create a more ethical world to live in, for all.
Mahatma Gandhi said it best when he said: “There is enough for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed.”