II. The Two of Pentacles
It’s anyone’s guess why the mystic started to put burlap sacks over the scarecrow’s heads. Some reckoned it was a form of preservation; that the burlap somehow protected the gourd from the elements and kept it fresh longer. Others supposed they were a form of enchanted blinders; that the scarecrow’s stayed more focused on their work with the burlap sacks limiting their stimulation. I don’t give that theory much salt myself seeing as the scarecrows had no trouble seeing right through the burlap as though it weren’t even there. These weren’t staggering, fumbling idiots of the corn fields. Your common scarecrow was agile, quick, and sure of foot. They’d pluck the pumpkins from the patch at September Hollow with great nimbleness despite their oversized twig hands. More than a bit of magic was at play with those scarecrows. The loads they were lifting should have reduced their hands to splinters, let alone their gaunt frames of straw, twigs, and worn fabric. Yet, they were stronger and faster than any man. So, if these oddly graceful golems could see right through burlap, what was the point of those hoods? No one knows, but there was one idea that I overheard at the market that really stuck with me: that it was too horrible to look into the face of a creature born into slavery. But why carve faces into the pumpkins anyway? As always, the wagging tongues of the village had an answer whether they knew anything or not. The popular rumor was that neither the mystic nor her assistant made so much as a single incision on those gourds. Rather, upon application of her spell, a face would manifest on the gourd through supernatural means; a side effect of the magic and a grim reminder of the cost of using the dark arts.
There’s no denying that our village feared the mystic. But no one could argue about the improvements on our lives thanks to scarecrow agriculture. Scarecrows became more prevalent in our fields as costs dropped. Soon, purchasing a scarecrow was less costly than even a secondhand robot. Where robots eventually failed and had to be scrapped, scarecrows were recycled, returning to the earth. The same scarecrow was then resurrected for the farmer at a renewal cost cheaper than buying a brand new scarecrow outright. The resurrected scarecrow retained all of the knowledge of its previous incarnation so the hassles of re-training a new laborer were eliminated.
Scarecrow Agriculture revolutionized our farming community but that’s not to say that automatons were no longer of use. While the mystic was constantly bringing new scarecrows to life while resurrecting the fallen ones, she was also repairing the mechanical farmhands (for a modest fee) with the help of her assistant. While the mystic kept most of her operations hidden behind closed doors, the keen observer would note that her assistant was often placed in charge of matters involving automaton maintenance, potentially as a means to free up the mystic to devote her efforts to the animation of scarecrows. Passing brief conversations with the mystic’s assistant revealed that she had a vast education in the sciences far exceeding the knowledge of anyone in our village. Interactions with the mystic were typically conducted through her assistant. If it was a matter of automaton maintenance, the assistant might provide a quick analysis before wheeling the damaged automaton into their laboratory. However, if it was a matter involving scarecrows, the assistant would take notes with no disclosure before excusing herself to consult with her mentor (so we can only assume).
The Two of Pentacles is often associated with juggling enterprises. In the story of the space mystic, this involves balancing her new, ambitious ventures into Scarecrow Agriculture with her initial success with Robotic Agriculture. This was a strange dip in the path in my foray into money art, as the Ace of Pentacles was so full of promise and good fortune, whereas the Two of Pentacles is the first real inclination to the challenges that make the Pentacles Suit so interesting.
The Two of Pentacles as an Example of Balance
The illustration of the Two of Pentacles clearly shows the mystic drawing sigils in the air over a scarecrow that is either being brought to life or resurrected using the power of the pentacle adorning its chest. Meanwhile, the mystic’s assistant faces in the opposite direction, focused on the maintenance of an automaton who is similarly adorned with an enchanted pentacle.
The symbolism of the Two of Pentacles is fairly straightforward, finding different ways to illustrate balance and the juxtaposition of differing strengths, representative of enterprises. The tiles of the mystic’s laboratory housed within her augmented farmhouse alternate between green and yellow. This is paralleled in the mystic’s primarily black garb against her assistant’s white robes. In this you will find the balance of magic and science as well as dark and light. This is further reinforced by the juggling gloves in the border as well as the pentacles in the form of circus-y globes. A juggled balance bleeds into all aspects of the Two of Pentacles.
A Division of Efforts
A split in efforts is a twin theme of the Two of Pentacles illustrated by the divided attentions of the mystic and her assistant, the split of pentacles between scarecrow and automaton, and the general divide of the illustration’s composition.
A Mixed Message in the Coming Storm
The storm clouds seen through the window portend challenges on the horizon for the mystic. While these turbulent times are imminent, even this news comes with its own split, keeping it in line with the theme of the Two of Pentacles. Even as the turbulent storm threatens to potentially rust the mystic’s automaton laborers, it will bring much needed water for the crops.