Placement: The Minor Arcana
Description: A person, usually a man with a crown, sits on a plain grey throne in front of a cityscape. He has one Frisbee-size bepentacled coin on his head, one in his hands, and one under each feet. The sky is grey in some versions, and a brownish gold in others. In many early decks, there is no man, no crown and no cityscape. The featured image above shows a woman with a coin in one hand and three other coins weighing her down in a basket. The basket, and the sash that ties it to her back, are all that she wears.
Right side up:
Hold on too tightly to your treasure prevents you from doing much else. The king has isolated himself from others. He cannot walk away or else his golden pentacles will be vulnerable to theft. In a similar vein, the woman cannot put her basket down even if only to get dressed. The burden of her treasure wreaks havoc on her back.
Both are certain that they started from nothing and rose through the ranks of their industry without help from anyone. If they were to look closely at the patterns of their lives, they might see that they rose on the backs of those they ignore. It is only now that they are alone. Take heart, lonely miser. There are many activists who would eagerly occupy your workplace to keep you company.
The Four of Coins reversed does not believe in investing for the future. Since the Four cards represent stability, this cycle of gain and loss will immobilize you. Whatever wealth you have may be temporarily buried in treasure chests like those of fictional pirates, but you will soon dig it up and fritter it away on silver thrones for your houseless property on the outskirts of town, or timeshares in colonies for nude basket enthusiasts.
Classic Four of Coins deaths:
- Giving the wrong answer to “Your money or your life?”
- A cave-in inside the tunnel, cave, pit or bunker in which you have horded supplies in case of non-cave-in disasters
- The rainy day you prepared for by lining the inside of your walls with cash does not extinguish the fire caused by your house’s increased flammability.
- A sedentary lifestyle
- A form of public entertainment inspired by the French Revolution: guillotine, followed traditionally by Hide The Head, followed by junior-league kickball.
- Gold overdose. Those are not pancakes.
- Held hostage for millions
- Startled by ghosts of past, present and future Christmas
- Ultimate Frisbee to the death, also known as Deadly Frisbee, Lethal Frisbee and Inoperable Stage Four Frisbee. Do not confuse this with Terminal Frisbee, in which players throw disks at descending aircraft.
Finally, gentle readers, an update on our efforts to find and free the kidnapped Anais Herschel (expert in nautical imagery in tarot) from a mysterious villain known as Lace:
It has come to my attention, and the attention of my colleagues, that acting chair Elsie Cabret has not left the basement of Headquarters for many days, sending novice members of our organization out for errands on her behalf. She will not say why she is there. She does not even use the comfortable stuffed sofa but sits with her back to the door of what we were always told was an old broom closet with a jammed lock. Has she gone mad? It is difficult to tell. What if there were a terrible secret hiding beyond the door and she were protecting us? What if the answer to all our questions lies within?
I leave you with my favourite portrait of Ms. Herschel, from a happier time.