Material trouble. Loss. Insecurity.
The Five of Pentacles is the card of material trouble, which may come in the form of loss or poverty, or it could be that you’re worrying about the possibility of these things.
There could be a feeling of insecurity. This could be the loss of money or position. Sometimes this means destitution.
Sadness is possible—as is illness (the pentacles represent the physical world and this includes health).
There could also be a lack of time.
Because of the harshness of this card, it can also naturally represent the need for hard work. It is sometimes described as a card of toil. You may need to build something new.
The image of the illuminated church window can show kindness in hardship, too.
Land cultivation is one of the older readings for this card.
The appearance of the Five of Pentacles shows a problem, but the other cards will show the solution. If the Five of Pentacles is drawn in the position of advice, then hard work, asking for assistance, or both, could be necessary.
Reversed, this card can have very similar meanings—ruin and loss of money.
However, it can also mean some improvement in finances, although probably after a lot of hard work and determination.
As always with tarot, meanings are not necessarily consistent, this is because the card must be read with the other cards. Using your intuition (as opposed to wishful thinking) can often focus on a single aspect of the card’s meaning.
As reversed cards can focus on inner energy, a spiritual poverty may be indicated, or perhaps a calling for you to pay attention to this part of your life.
The reversed card could also be calling your attention to blockages related to the way you deal with physical (or sometimes spiritual) matters.
In the RWS Five of Pentacles two poor people walk barefoot through the snow at night. Both wear ragged clothes, one walks with crutches, the other stoops as she moves through the snow.
Behind them is a beautiful stained glass window of a church.
Astrologically, the Five of Pentacles represents Mercury in Taurus.
The esoteric title of the Five of Pentacles is Lord of Material Trouble.