Material gain. Financial stability. Greed.
The Four of Pentacles is about material stability or lack of it. The RWS card shows a man controlling his possessions (the pentacles he holds), and if this card appears, it’s about your possessions or your control of them; it’s about holding onto what you have, and can sometimes lead to greed.
Consider whether you're spending too much money, or not spending enough. Both are possible meanings for this card.
Self-protection can be a meaning, and in its positive aspect this card can suggest building your nest egg—perhaps it’s about saving money or building a pension fund.
Depending on the other other cards (and your intuitive response) this card may be telling you to save money or to loosen your belt and spend more.
A material gain my be coming to you, which my be through your own work, or it could be in gifts or an inheritance.
Monetary success may be indicated.
In a career reading, the Four of Pentacles could refer to a promotion or a pay increase.
The Four of Pentacles reversed can mean career or financial setbacks, obstacles or delays. There could be opposition to your plans or ideas at work.
Alternatively, when reversed the card can indicate an internalization of the upright meaning. This might mean a desire to stabilize your finances that hasn’t yet occurred.
The Animal Totem Four of Pentacles shows a different side of this card to the RWS tarot. This card shows industriousness that is needed in order to create solid material wealth—which is sometimes just what is needed. The Four of Pentacles can be a card that you your belt is too tight and that some spending of resources is necessary, but it’s important to remember that in some circumstances, it can mean the opposite, that the belt needs tightening and that acquisition of wealth and saving is needed.
The RWS Four of Pentacles shows a king sitting on his throne before a city clutching a gold coin; another rests on his head, and two more under his feet. He’s grasping his wealth.
Many of the RWS inspired tarot decks copy this pattern in some way. The Steampunk Tarot shows a mechanical hand designed to grasp money to place in its money box.
However, the Animal Totem Tarot (as described above) offers a welcome positive interpretation.
In the Marseilles Tarot, an almost square shield in the centre, surrounded by four pentacles, suggests the solidity of this card as well as giving a feeling of defense (against material problems).
The esoteric title for this card is Lord of Earthly Power.
Astrologically, this card represents the Sun in Capricorn.