Pentacles, Oz, and Economics

NOTE: Since the illustrations in this particular post are not complete yet, color prints aren't available in the store but should be soon. In the meantime, you can always ease on down the Yellowbrick Road and share some of that gold by buying prints of my other work!


You may not know it by looking at the site but I've actually been very busy with my Tarot series. While I have the Moon and Strength cards completed and waiting in the wings to share with you, I thought I'd take the opportunity of Jupiter going forward tomorrow (good for money) to share the early stirrings of my take on the Pentacles suit.

These are really rough shots I snapped just moments ago, not even straightened up in Photoshop because I don't want to spend too much time detracting from the creation process just yet. Eventually, I'll have some nice black-and-white as well as color shots of these cards to share but this is more of just a raw glimpse at what's been going on in the Seth Styles studio. 


When I first showed these to some close friends, they mentioned that they had a very Wizard of Oz vibe to them. Surprisingly, this was unintentional though I totally see it. We've got a dark mystic from outer space bringing to life scarecrow agricultural workers to augment an already toiling force of robot farmhands. I love The Wizard of Oz so I'm not going to say a subconscious influence isn't possible.

However, I think that L. Frank Baum and I may have just been drinking from the same cup. The Pentacles Suit is all about economic flow and eventual prosperity and abundance. Numerous articles have been written explaining theories of how L. Frank Baum's writing is actually a fairy tale on economics. Here's a great one from The Money Masters that summarizes several theories:

When these cards are finished and looking a bit prettier, I'll delve into all of my own symbolism and how it ties into this particular facet of the tarot. In the meantime, here's wishing you wealth, fortune, prosperity, and abundance as Jupiter finally comes out of retrograde!

The Knight of Pentacles

Money and wealth have been both glamorized and demonized in Western society so much that it is often hard to get a clear concept of abundance and how one relates to it. This was a huge struggle for me even before I began work on the Knight of Pentacles. I'd been meditating on money for years, trying to deprogram myself so that I could accept without guilt.

I've loved money but not as much as I've feared a lack of money and even in moments of financial security (and outright excess when compared to the majority of the world), I'd feared poverty to a point that could easily be considered an addiction to fear. My efforts to overcome my flaws found me thinking about wealth often, sometimes with faith, other times with terror. And so the Knight of Pentacles has become a very important figure in my mythology, often appearing to me in meditations. 


As with any knight card, the Knight of Pentacles deals with movement but specifically in matters of work and money. It's common to find descriptions of the Knight of Pentacles as a simple. humble, yet patient character, bonded to nature and content with plodding through the menial tasks and tedious hard work to get his rewards.

Admittedly, my Knight of Pentacles is quite different than his predecessors, but this has a lot to do with my own metaphysical beliefs. I can translate a facet of these beliefs most simply into the concept that working hard is not necessarily better than working smart. My Knight of Pentacles can be seen as humble as much as glamorous, he is tied to nature quite strongly, and his ingenuity and gift for strategy gain him prosperity and abundance. 

I've always assumed my Knight of Pentacles would wear red primarily. When doing chakra meditations, I often concentrated on images of red money and red tribal warriors brandishing sharpened red blades when working on my base (red) chakra. These tribal warriors evolved into masked beings that could only be described as red ninjas, protecting their clan.

Anyone who has done chakra work will know that the base chakra incorporates matters of stability (which often translates to financial stability in my mind) and tribal/familial/societal/cultural beliefs. Therefore, the color red was heavily incorporated into my concept of the Knight of Pentacles. Likewise, green is often the color of abundance, prosperity, and in American culture, money.

Therefore, the color green was used liberally throughout my illustration. Even the green candles are simply an allusion to a popular component of spells for money. Gold was also incorporated for its obvious correlation with wealth. 

I depicted the Knight of Pentacles as a samurai and this was one of those lovely intuitive flourishes that came from somewhere beyond my conscious mind. If I were to try to make sense of divine inspiration, I'd assume that my Knight of Pentacles uses a lot more tactic and strategy than the other knights in my tarot as economic matters often require thought and, at times, stealth.

When I say stealth, I am referring to pure skill and thinking on one's feet as opposed to any sort of dishonorable activity. Like the mythic samurai, my Knight of Pentacles serves with honor, fully aware that there is enough abundance in the world for all. He simply loves money and uses his mind to acquire it. A samurai often served as a warrior for the noble class, again linking my Knight of Pentacles to wealth. 

What may be less obvious about my Knight of Pentacles is that he is actually a scarecrow. If you look beyond the golden mask, you can see the blank burlap sack that covers his gourd head, falling down into a moth-eaten cape. Scarecrows are tasked with watching over the land and protecting the abundance. Within this context, it makes perfect sense that my Knight of Pentacles would be a samurai scarecrow.

But the Pentacles Suite is also tied to the element of earth just as the scarecrow is born of the land, like an earth golem made of gourd, straw, and dust. The farmer finds value in waste, using manure to fertilize the land. So too is this scarecrow a protector made from waste, a golem conjured from the earth to protect the earth. The waste becomes assimilated into the prosperity.

As a scarecrow, the Knight of Pentacles can be seen still mounted upon his wooden cross. This is simply further reinforcement of the concept of stability that can come through the work of the Knight of Pentacles and therefore a balancing of the base chakra. Though the Knight of Pentacles wears some traditional samurai armor, he is not as ensconced in armor as the other knights in my tarot deck. This again goes back to his tact and strategy.

His body is made of enchanted straw so traditional attacks pass through him. In this natural simplicity, he finds an advantage. Strategy over brute force often brings this knight his rewards. Most incarnations of the Knight of Pentacles depict him with a pentacle coin in his hand. It may not be obvious due to the amount of detail, but the knight is rolling his coin across the twig fingers of his left hand. This again reinforces his tendency for strategy, walking the coin as a distraction while he blocks using the golden kitana in his right hand. 

The harvest moon rises above an orchard of pomegranate trees in the background. The golden harvest moon references abundance in that it signals the opportune time for collection of the crops; the point when the work, ideas, and strategies come to fruition. I really wanted to use pomegranates as the crop that the knight stood over.

I later read that the Ancient Egyptians regarded the pomegranate as a symbol of prosperity and ambition. The knight is skewering a pomegranate with his golden kitana, spilling the seeds in a symbolic gesture for further abundance to come. The hilt of the kitana offers another blade showing the abundance of resources at the knight's disposal. Golden diamonds accentuate the hilt as an obvious nod to riches and wealth. 

The scarecrow that is the Knight of Pentacles wears a golden youth face mask with decadent baroque curls. It represents the beauty and youth that prosperity offers. The samurai helmet extends into a set of horns vaguely alluding to the bull (Taurus, an earth sign) and a golden leaf crowning the helmet as a reminder of the knight's bond with the natural world. 

The Knight of Pentacles' steed is a horse of pure gold with golden pentacle coins entwined in its fancy curls. Vines, representative of the abundance of nature (and, again, the knight's ties to this), cling to the proud golden horse. It bares a coin slot indicating a willingness to receive abundance.