The suit of Coins, usually symbolized by a solid gold coin, represents first and foremost, your body, health, vigor, and genetic heredity. It can be seen as the capacity to "ground" and relax, attuning to the rhythms of Nature within and without.
Emotionally, the coin symbolizes a feeling of abundance, security, safety and general freedom from threats to survival. When you feel safe, you are free to be creative, not hampered by fear and reactivity. The theme of prosperity is not limited to a financial experience. Even the poorest person can be enriched and increased by the experience of a golden moment, contact with goodness, or beauty.
Coins can also symbolize strengths or gifts, sources of support which provide for you, based on your own efforts or those who came before you. Such gifts can include family money, marketable skills, insider connections, a special cultural heritage, etc. The biblical use of the word "talent" for a monetary unit offers us an interesting play on words. Whether as a coin or as a capability, a talent is a potential, an ability, ready to be spent in actualization of a goal. Those who are willing to invest themselves, their time, money, and labor, deserve the rewards of effort. The coins provide those rewards, as well as supply the means to earn and deserve them. Think of the Coin as the symbol of the "currency" you possess for protecting your sovereignty in this world.
Whether it's intellectual, entrepreneurial, artistic, or any other "property" you command, including the sheer brute energy and strength to outwork those around you, Coins symbolizes the value of your assets. If you can translate that into a way to pay your bills and take care of your family, you have mastered Coins. As the saying goes, "wherever a person's gold is, there is their heart too." The Coin is your values, the things you love, are attracted to and collect around yourself.
In alchemy, the metal gold not only represents a standard of external value in collective culture, but stands as a symbol of purity among the other metals because it is naturally brilliant, warm to look at and feel. At the same time, it remains malleable and easily blended with other metals. Because of these qualities, gold came to be seen as Solar energy cast into substance, showing forth the highest evolution of the element earth and pointing to the inner light which inspires all forms. At its highest manifestation, gold symbolizes the Body of God, the world of matter itself.
Likewise, the Coins are the seeds of all the "things" in this world, all drawn out of the infinite creativity of Nature. The earliest European Tarots show the personalities of the Planetary Gods on the coins of the Tarot, often arranged by their orbital placements around the sun, from the innermost Mercury to the Ring-Pass-Not, Saturn (the other planets were not yet known).
Ace of Coins
The Ace of Coins is usually pictured with a garden or agricultural backdrop to emphasize the potential of this Ace to serve as a seed. If this "talent" is planted and tended carefully, it will sprout and reward you with a good harvest. Think of it as the seed of your future fulfillment. An ace represents the first step to your goal, but if that step is repeated, it can cover great distances. Generally, the suit of Coins indicates the tangible realities in daily life, but in the case of the Ace, it could be symbolizing the "winning idea," the game plan or blueprint for eventual materialization. Occult tradition sometimes sees this Ace as representing the "alchemical gold," the light within matter, the Third Eye or Kether in your energy-body. This association implies focused meditation upon the light within, structuring one's personality upon the archetype of humanity enlightened. By practicing this meditation, it was taught that one eventually gains enough control of the celestial radiance to heal the body, untangle the emotions, and complete the growth of the soul.
Two of Coins
The Two of Coins generally features a youth juggling, with two coins flying about him in figure-eight fashion, or just the coins without the youth, one shown heads up, the other tails up, both still flipping in the air. It is clear that until one or the other coin drops, the final call cannot be made; there is more to learn before a decision can be made about appropriate action. This card counsels patience, so do not allow circumstances to hustle you. The figure-eight image is called a lemniscate, and is a symbol of immortality and eternity. It says "No need to hurry. You have all the time you need to work this out, no matter how things appear right now." Implied within this scenario is the idea that changes are in the works, but you will do better to stay calm until you have more information. Everything is in flux.
Three of Coins
The Three of Coins is traditionally the card of genius. Here we usually see a master crafts-man consulting with his masons on how to install a beautiful stained-glass window into the nave of the cathedral. This designer is often likened to Leonardo da Vinci or Michaelangelo, visionaries who outdistanced their peers in both talent and productivity. This masterwork is being proudly showcased for future generations to worship under, an object of personal and civic pride for the whole community. On occasion, the genius is portrayed at his studio, alone and burning the midnight oil in a creative ferment--driven to draw, paint, invent, or whatever work genius is bringing into creation. As a subtext to the rewards of genius stand the hours, days and weeks of intense concentration solving the problems that great works entail.
Four of Coins
The Four of Coins has been used to express the paradoxical aspect of material security, the two-edged reality that results when you have been well supported and protected. It all sounds idyllic until one investigates the level of demand that prosperity places upon people--the pressure of big decisions, responsibilities toward dependents or employees, even tougher decisions in times of instability. An immature person thrust into such a position would lack the perspective to sensibly assess risks and rewards, would be vulnerable to bad advice or surprise developments, could even put the lives of his loyal assistants at risk. This card also points to the subtler dependencies that comfort encourages, allowing laxness and self-indulgence to quietly invade one's reserve of willpower. The person this card represents needs to move slowly and deliberately if change is required, as the consequences will affect more than just her or himself.
Five of Coins
The Five of Coins is the card of desire and gratification, expressed in classical tradition as flattery, promises, both the seducer and the object of his seduction. There is an undeniable excitement pictured in the attraction of opposites, and we have all had delightful moments of magnetism with a stranger. However, if promises are only spoken to achieve short-term gratification with no intent of follow-through, or the attraction appears as competition to the relationships one should be concentrating on, the long-term cost won't be worth the thrill of the chase. The implication is that the appearance of a viable relationship does not always bear out, so don't put anything of real value at risk over this infatuation. And since the suit here is Coins, this is as likely to be related to business as to pleasure. Try to remove glamour from your thinking.
Six of Coins
The Six of Coins is the card of patronage and generosity, with all the strings attached. The picture shows a rich man giving alms, feeling smug and self-satisfied, reputation enhanced from his giving, but without having helped anybody really better him or herself. Sometimes there is an inference that the giver will be expecting something back for his "generosity," perhaps sexual favors. A higher octave would be signified by a patron of the arts, someone who rescues a talented person from oblivion, but then wants to dictate what the artist can produce or who he can work for as his fame grows. Inequality of power is always a factor in this card, and the person being "helped" in this model needs to be extremely careful not to trade off her or his heart and soul for a shortcut to fame or fortune. Meanwhile each player in this scenario needs to examine their investment in playing out a domination dynamic.
Seven of Coins
The Seven of Coins is a paean to the humble laborer who is willing to show up every day and sweat in the sun for next season's bounty. The traditional concept is "cultivation," the attitude that slow and steady wins the race, with patience and confidence in nature's assistance. The protagonist of this card doesn't make excuses, isn't whimsical or moody, is dedicated and sees the job through. Of course, it's no good to count your chickens before they hatch, but there's no question that the person who is vigilant over a project is more likely to get the desired result. Someone who works with Nature, cooperating with her ways, will waste less energy and time than the person who works against Nature. As a side meaning, we sometimes see this normally humble farmer in a moment of frenzy, betting the crop on the roll of the dice. This represents a moment of dementia, addiction, or desperation which hopefully will not last long enough for him to lose everything!
Eight of Coins
The Eight of Coins is the card of works. We see here the successful artisan spending time at his bench, hammering out the commissions he has attracted because of his skill. His name is synonymous with "the best in its class." He is so popular that he can barely keep up with demand. Therefore, he is paid whatever he asks and accepts only the most prestigious requests. If there is a problem in this card, it has to do with the trap of workaholism, the feeling of being so indispensable that you will not ask for help or delegate any part of a project. There is also the issue of becoming so identified as the creator of elegant objects that the personal identity of the creator is consumed by the works themselves. The maker seldom gets to have a home life, time off, friendships or the like. This card lobbies for a balanced perspective.
Nine of Coins
The Nine of Coins points to a person who is financially secure enough to live in a truly comfortable way, the "lifestyle of the rich and famous." This is about someone supported by her own business, inheritance, or ownership of property. This is one person in ten thousand. This extraordinarily lucky and well endowed individual has turned a historical accident into a personal opportunity and has the vision and strength of character to hold onto his or her gains against all odds. Do not be fooled at the apparent ease displayed on this card, the person pictured is at the tail end of a long and stressful process of winning the right to be taken seriously, and all of those graces have been paid for several times over.
Ten of Coins
The Ten of Coins, the capstone of the numbered Coins, represents the final result of cumulative efforts--perhaps generations of effort--culminating in such wealth, abundance, and enterprise that it supports a whole castle or town full of people. The first layer of meaning refers to the dynastic pride of accomplishment which has established this family as a lineage of entrepreneurial souls. The flow of resources is so abundant and well established, even the retainers of this family experience abundance, coloring the whole realm with pride and self-respect. This fortune impacts the destiny of all the families who live in the shadow of this noble house, from the liege lord's personal minister down to the lowliest servants. This is the sense in which nobility obligates its possessors, and the obligation must be passed down from generation to generation along with the wealth and privilege.
Page of Coins
The Page of Coins is a student of abundance. This person's attention is focused on learning the natural laws that pertain to increase, multiplication, compounding, and all forms of growth. Whether the study is about farming, the stock market, or culturing new medicines in the lab, this Page wants to understand the underlying mechanism that supports the creation of abundance. You may see this person in the position of the attendant or junior partner, but that is only appearances. That demeanor of humility or servitude will soon enough disappear, as the Page's sense of mastery increases. By studying the example of everyone around him, successful and unsuccessful, he is building a game plan which will lift him from obscurity and place him squarely among the ranks of the "haves." He just has to collect the necessary education and experience, which he is doing right now.
Knight of Coins
The Knight of Coins is the most peace-loving of the Knights, the overseer of fertility and growth. His period of ascendancy is during the quiet years between conflicts, when everybody can concentrate together on raising the collective standard of living. His horse is usually huge and thickset, more suitable to pulling a plow than riding swiftly into battle. His temperament is easygoing and relaxed, he's moving at the rate of the flow because he knows that you can't hurry time. Seeing the bigger picture, like a farmer planning for future decades, he doesn't allow momentary fads or fancies to distract him, and he doesn't take seriously people who do. One can feel his stability and dedication; he is totally responsible and even somewhat predictable when it comes to his projects. He is earthy and gentle, as simple as deep as the soil he tills and the flowers he loves.
Queen of Coins
The Queen of Coins is endowed with enormous good sense and problem-solving energy, but she is not entrepreneurial. She loves to advise, encourage, and empower those she gets involved with, studying their problems with them and setting them up to solve their difficulties. Traditionally she is the Sibyl or Oracle, perhaps a Tarot reader, who made herself available to people in need, no matter what social class or situation they came from. In modern times, she will be found educating, healing, managing disaster aid programs and handling the money from a charity drive. In every case, she does not see the benefits that exist in her life as belonging solely to her. She feels the needs of "her people" and will spend freely of her time, energy, skills and money to see that nobody is abandoned. For this, and because she likes to work in an atmosphere of beauty, enjoyment, and abundance, she is sometimes accused of being profligate. But she works hard, and sees no reason to deny the rewards of a job well done! Everyone who comes in contact with her feels enriched by her obvious enjoyment in living.
King of Coins
The King of Coins is someone who has accomplished a lot in life, but has also arranged his affairs such that he has a lot to show for it. Possessing a practical genius for working the ways of the world, he loves building businesses. Because he's good at it, he gets himself invited to the biggest deals in town. He has the power to make or break people financially, and although this does not always earn him love, it certainly earns him deference and respect. In previous centuries this king took on the character of Midas, who wanted everything he touched to turn to gold, until his little daughter reached out to him, touched him and froze in her tracks. He learns the hard way about the drawbacks of looking at all of life through the lens of business. In his highest manifestation, this King has figured out the exact worth of wealth and the tax it extracts, and has matured in his thinking to reflect Values rather than just profits and power.
Read more exerpts from The Underground Streams: Esoteric Tarot Revealed:
History of Tarot | Esoteric Origins of Tarot | Criteria for Esoteric Tarot | The Gnostic Tarot | Kabbalah | Confluence | Continental Tarots | Spanish School | The English School | Major Arcana Theory | Minor Arcana | Major Arcana Cards | Coins | Cups | Swords | Wands | About Christine Payne-Towler