“The test is one of severance…” Isabel M. Hickey, Astrology: A Cosmic Science
The Four of Pentacles
For the next few weeks, I’ll be looking at the attending astrological transits through the lens of the Tarot and make interpretations and connections between these two archetypal systems of understanding and storytelling. This is not professional advice nor is it meant to be helpful to anyone in any specific way — it’s merely my space to explore, play, and pontificate. Please read with care and discernment and trust yourself and your own intuition above anyone else.
As the inevitable gloom of the American tax day hangs over our heads, a Venus square Saturn transit feels apropos. In one of my first astrological readings, my guide described Saturn as “audit energy.” This has always stuck with me and I continue to return to this narrative as a way of understanding the exacting nature of Saturn — how it’s helpful and why it sometimes scares the shit out of me. (Shitting oneself out of fear feels indicatively Saturnian, for there are few more effective ways to clear out our waste.)
Reading over the narrative roadmap I’ve laid out here, I feel a little overwhelmed with the number of concepts I’m trying to weave together. Aside from the astrological entities at play: Venus, Gemini, Saturn, Pisces, a square… I’ve included the Four of Pentacles and the idea of severance from Isabel Hickey’s seminal text on astrology. Bear with me as I try to make something meaningful of all this, but I do believe there is something in this imagined ecosystem worth harvesting.
The Four of Pentacles is a disciplinary card in the Tarot deck: very Saturnian. Depending on which version of the Tarot you pay your respects to, the meaning of this card will vary. However, I feel safe in saying that this card generally refers, as most of the pentacles cards do, to the dichotomous relationship between abundance and scarcity – and perhaps one tier deeper, between conservation and greed. Financial stability can be available to us through hard work. That’s good ol’ fashioned Saturn — the taskmaster that holds our feet to the fire in order for us to grow and evolve. This is not a passive income situation. This is reciprocity in the form of blood, sweat, and tears.
The catch of this dynamic is that the harder we work for something the more we become attached to it: back off, I’ve fucking earned this. The paradox of this emotional investment in our material gains is that it can actually prevent us from being able to enjoy the thing we’ve earned. If we’re contracted in by the fear of losing what we have, we’re diminishing our ability to experience joy and satisfaction. I believe this is why Isabel Hickey was offering severance as an antidote to the Venus-Saturn square.
Our ability to generate genuine detachment from the fruits of our labor allows us the space to be in an open-handed relationship with our belongings, as opposed to one of clenched fists. As the childhood aphorism goes, “Hands are for holding, not for hitting.” With a more spacious attitude in all of our relationships (monetary, romantic, platonic, dependent), it is easier to be generous. I think that’s when things really begin to flow — the opposite of the stagnation that creates a cesspool situation.
One of the world’s oldest and most important religious texts is based on this theme. Verse 47 in Book 2 of the Bhagavad Gita says something along the lines of: “You have the right to work only, and not to the fruits of work. Let not the fruit of action be your motive, nor let your attachment be to inaction.”
While it’s difficult to extract this sentiment from its contextual roots in the Indian caste system, there’s still a lot of juice to glean from this excerpt. Although I won’t go too deeply into an exposition, I believe it’s worth considering and contemplating. My primary point in sharing this quote from an ancient religious text is that the idea of severance is a “spiritual” principle that’s been explored for thousands of years — not simply something we’re going to shed from our psychospiritual landscape overnight. It seems ironic that as we cling to our mental and emotional frameworks the same way we cling to our possessions, we continuously find ourselves in one predicament of suffering or another.
From here, I’d like to circle back to this dynamic between the Venus-Saturn square and the Four of Cups, and more specifically the Mercurial aspect of Gemini. As Venus is freshly into the Gemini, this square will certainly have a hard-edged impact on our relationships. Venus in Gemini conjures the image of a butterflying fluttering from one flower to the next, collecting nectar and providing pollination — never lingering too long in one place. It’s a reciprocal relationship but it’s not one of deep or lasting connection. The square asks us to audit how we impact people. If not all connections are meant to have depth, how can we be sure that we’re leaving the situation better than we found it? These interactions have the potential to provide satisfaction and healing. We still have to be delicate and also not become attached to the emotional intensity (i.e. passion, obsession, overindulgence, etc.) that is oft associated with immediacy and novelty.
The work of relating with integrity and having meaningful connections — even brief interactions — with people can take a lot of work. The energy required for authentic attentiveness to others should not be underestimated. May we be generous with our time and energy to give the people in our lives the attention that they deserve. Our efforts here are never wasted — even if the relationships themselves do not last. Regardless of any interpersonal outcome, what we’re cultivating inside of ourselves is a kind of genuine presence that stays with us regardless of the changing external circumstances.
The Four of Cups invokes the energy of skillful action – this is not a card of reaping benefit through passivity. I love this mentality for any astrological square. In my eyes, aspects are never fatalistic, that is, X planet at X degree of Y planet will always produce the same result. The transits are always happening and being digested and metabolized through us. We get a chance to navigate them and use our awareness and agency to leverage them as opportunities for growth and evolution. In any meaningful and effective audit, we will, at the very least, get a clearer understanding of the situation at hand. From there, we get the gift (and sometimes, the weight) of making a choice: what will go and what will stay. And thank goodness for any degree of clarity that makes discernment through the chaotic, amorphousness of life just a little bit easier. I’ll accept that as a form of wealth any day.
Art: flower festival: feast of santa anita by diego rivera