A Tarot de Marseille Thumbnail: 6 of Coins

You knew I would get back to the 6 of Coins sooner or later. Its conceptual leap beyond the 5 of Coins is remarkable. Where the Five is detached and barren, with the two triangles formed by the suit emblems converging in a shared apex at the center of the insular “womb,” the Six is outwardly engaged and prolific, turning that configuration inside out with the apex of each triangle now resembling a ripe fruit dangling from the end of a branch. In the entry titled “Graphics” in his A Dictionary of Symbols, J.E. Cirlot described the upright triangle as “evolutive” and the inverse triangle as “involutive.”* In the suit of Coins it’s a question of worldly advancement versus withdrawal, or at best stasis; in the 5 of Coins, the two are on a collision course, ultimately cancelling one another out and producing a null state, while in the 6 of Coins they are drawing apart, the better to regard the opposite number and chart an advantageous course between the extremes. Foliage fills the interstitial spaces with the impetus for growth, implying that fulfillment of the promise will proceed naturally, without needing to be forced. The keynote of all the Sixes is harmony, and in the suit of Coins the implication is of a well-oiled machine.


At the center is a healthy-looking blossom fed by two leaf-bearing tendrils, and the foliage has stretched dramatically to accommodate all six coins. If the central coin (or “seed”) in the 5 of Coins suggests an unfertilized ovum, the two “fruit” emerging from the top and bottom of the 6 of Coins bring to mind the cellular ramification that marks the first step on the road to becoming a viable embryo. The term “cell division” presents itself when the two cards are observed side-by-side. In the practical realm of divination, the simultaneous ripening of events reminds me of a “reverse stock split,” where a company divides the number of outstanding shares held by stockholders, thereby increasing the market value of each share. As I mentioned in my 7 of Coins essay, the Six shows a bountiful harvest, not yet past its prime and ready for gathering. As the rural idiom goes, “Time’s a-wastin’,” and the situation may be only a hair’s breadth away from decline. If you’ve been planning on doing something, do it now!

The Thoth 6 of Disks is a close cousin to the TdM card, both visually and literally. Its title, “Success,” neatly captures the essence of the Six in the world of commerce and finance: an economic engine hitting on all cylinders. The RWS 6 of Pentacles, on the other hand, confuses the issue with notions of charity and generosity. While the opportunity to exercise those virtues may be a collateral benefit of amassing wealth beyond one’s immediate needs, they have little to do with the primary urge to succeed for its own sake.

* Cirlot’s examples clearly display isosceles triangles, not equilateral as shown in these cards. His intent was apparently to convey divergence rather than static symmetry, but I think my purpose is served.

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