Five of Pentacles symbolizes struggle, material hardship, bad health, being or feeling ostracized and learning spiritual lessons through difficulty. Most literally, this card indicates poverty or illness, as we see the barefoot, raggedy looking couple hobble along on crutches. It may indicate going through a long and difficult period of struggle, yet still surviving, and possibly even retaining a close relationship throughout the difficulty.
Two hunched, bedraggled looking figures press onward through blistering cold and snow, yet perhaps they have found sanctuary in the warmly radiant church. This indicates on the one hand the solace of spirituality in times of hardship, and on the other hand the fact that often we neglect our spiritual needs until our circumstances become so miserable that we are desperate for anything and anyone who might help. The deepest spiritual lessons— including learning how to love unconditionally, which can come from a struggle which induces universal compassion— very often come from pitiful bouts of suffering.
On the other hand, this card may represent ignoring the opportunity for warmth, happiness and sanctuary, and instead insisting upon drudging onward in misery. Often when we go through a difficult time we make it exceedingly more difficult by moaning and groaning about it, while giving up the power or responsibility to improve the condition. Some people even find a strange satisfaction in suffering, and refuse help even when it comes. We may even become addicted to the idea that we are sick, that we are poor, that we are powerless, and so perpetuate the condition by an unconscious need to be a victim. More innocently, the Five of Pentacles may show one who has simply grown so used to suffering, or who has only ever known suffering, such that he is blind to seeing alternative ways of life.
Another reading is that the poor people in the Five of Pentacles have actually been thrown out or refused by the Church. In this reading, the message is clear: you have to struggle on your own. No one can fight this battle for you. Some amount of strain and struggle is good for an individual, for he will develop strength, tenacity and independent judgment.
The Five of Pentacles card is connected to Saturn in the second house, as an indicator of crisis or recession.
Card meanings upright:
The Five of Pentacles card can represent financial loss or hardship in your life. You may be feeling like you lack security or your health may be suffering. You may need to examine your relationship with money, and determine if anxiety and ignorance may be contributing to your financial grief. Now is a good time to reach out within your network, and allow others to help you.
Card meanings reversed:
When the Five of Pentacles card is reversed, it can indicate chaos and disorder in your life. You may find yourself lacking in money, spirituality, and supportive friendships.