Journal Entries

Four of Pentacles and “Resource Guarding.”

Approx. Reading time 3.41 mins

I know that resource guarding is a term used in dog behavior, but hear me out. In my practice, Pentacles/Coins are all about safety. For some of us that means having a robust savings account to lean on; for others, it is food security, for some people, having a reliable shelter equals safety but today I want to talk about pentacles/coins and our bodies.

For those of us with chronic conditions, neurodivergence, and cognitive challenges, everyday tasks that many people don’t think about can be incredibly draining for us. Some days, just getting out of bed takes everything we have. While some people spend full days in noisy and chaotic environments, for some of us, a few moments in those surroundings can be physically painful. Masking and being aware of every movement and gesture is exhausting and I’ve been thinking about this card from this perspective. I wanted to share a bit about that in case it resonates.

As an autistic person with ADHD, migraines, C-PTSD, and mood disorders, I tend to push way too hard when I have energy, and then completely burn out. For anyone unfamiliar with the term “spoonie,” this refers to folks living with chronic illness and the analogy that they are allocated a certain number of “spoons” each day and tasks such as cooking and laundry spends a certain number of those spoons. When you’re out, you’re out. The urgency of the task doesn’t matter at that point.

So, moving away from the older associations with this card being folx who are miserly or frugal, since Pentacles represent the physical realm, it makes sense that this could be in regards to physical “spending’ if you will.

I wanted to invite conversations around conserving our energetic currency as needed and making space for that not only to be okay but to recognize that this creates safer relationships for the person with the limited capacity and those who care about them. It creates transparency so that the person who struggles can be honest about where they are at, and their companions don’t have to worry that their friend will say “yes” when they don’t want to. What does this look like in practice? For example, I don’t often commit to things very far in advance because I truly don’t know where I will be at from one day to the next. I know that pushing myself to do things when my mind and body are screaming “no” is injurious and I no longer do that. It is frustrating and humbling but at least for now, it is my reality. I do my best to keep my word when I do commit to events but there are times when rest is not optional.

Wherever you struggle and overextend yourself, the medicine in this card is there to remind you that you don’t “owe” your physical currency to others. Much like the “oxygen mask theory,” if we burn ourselves out, we can’t help anyone, even our closest loved ones. Where do you have trouble saying “no” in your life? Are there certain people or situations where you tend to put your needs aside to support them? How might you anticipate and plan to have a more self-advocating approach next time?

Even as a mother, I have learned ways around my zero-spoon days and while I haven’t yet banished the associated guilt, I have accepted that these days will happen. However, I think that the real magick in this card comes from slowing down enough to notice body cues before you hit that wall. For neurodivergent minds, this is often a struggle. We forget to eat, sleep, or drink water, and we just keep chipping away at the neverending to-do list. Suddenly we bonk and it takes time to recover. I recently read that it can be helpful to aim to utilize 50% of your energy for that day rather than spending it all. Maybe, in the Four of Pentacles, we can remember to pause, take a breath, and ask our body what they really need at this moment. It isn’t miserly, it’s resource-guarding for survival. You are amazing.

Sidenote, with this interpretation you can almost imagine theis person on the card doing the somatic self-holding activity which I find incredibly helpful when I am in crisis. This is done (if you are able to) by tucking your right hand in your left armpit and your left hand on the outside of your right bicept and applying as much pressure as feels good. Photo below:

Drawing of a person doing the somatic self-holding exercise. The person has their right arm tucked in their left armpit and their left arm on the outside of their right bicep.

With love,

From the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith.

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