Five: Dealing With Setbacks

Modern Witch Tarot

So far on this Minor Arcana journey, we have conceived of and set out on a new journey, a new project, maybe a new relationship. So far we have had success, but then the inevitable setback occurs. It’s okay to be disappointed when this happens. 

The Fives are difficult. It’s common to feel a bit disillusioned in your reading when you pull one of these cards. But conflict is a part of life, it’s another step in the journey, and you can work through it. In numerology, the number 5 represents humans. What is more human than messing up? 

Card 5 in the Major Arcana is the Hierophant, and it’s certainly not the most popular card. It can seem a bit stuffy and controlling. It is natural to want to go against that and find your own way. There are many pros to that, but it also means you’re more likely to learn from your own mistakes. 

Five of Wands: In this card, we see people battling each other with sticks. It doesn’t look like a serious fight, no one is hitting anyone else’s body with their stick. It might be a play fight, or maybe it’s a silly argument. This card asks you to pick your battles. It’s easy to get stressed out by bickering with your loved ones, and sometimes it’s best to walk away from a fight that no one will win. 

I try to avoid spending a lot of time on social media because there’s always someone trying to pick a fight and if you get sucked in, you just feel bad for no reason. Of course if it’s about something important, sticking up for yourself is great, but the Five of Wands represents those tussles that are pointless and will only do you harm to engage in. 

Five of Cups: In this card, we see someone whose cups have fallen over and they have lost what is inside. They don’t seem to notice that there are still two upright cups behind them. Remembering that cups represent emotions, we can see that this card is showing us that when something bad happens, it takes a while to remember the good. Feel the loss of the three cups, let that go through you, and then take a breath and appreciate what is left. 

This card reminds me of the stages of grief. The person is in denial of the cups behind them, they might be angry and depressed about the loss in front of them. Eventually they will notice the ones behind them and think ‘well maybe I can salvage this…’ and then acceptance. 

Five of Swords: This card is similar to the Five of Wands but where wands represents passions, swords represent intellect and thoughts. What is the hill you want to die on? Sometimes when we have an argument where we both think we are right, we pick tiny holes in the other person’s logic, and one of us ends up humiliated. No one really wins. The Five of Swords reminds us to avoid being defensive and lashing out. In the image, the person in front won the swords from the other people. But did they really need three swords in the first place? What really did they gain, and those other people lost everything they had. 

If you pull this card, think of a time where you might have been petty to someone else, and consider apologising or reconciling with them. If you are the one who was wronged, try to let it go, as other people’s actions only affect you as much as you let them, after the fact that is. 

Five of Pentacles: This is known as the card of poverty. The kind of hardship that is devastating to go through. The loss of everything, stability, abundance, a sense of identity. We see people out in the cold, walking past what could be a church. Do they see the potential for shelter, or would they feel unaccepted there? There is a sense of being an ‘other’ here. If you are struggling just now, don’t be too proud to accept help. Everyone needs their basic needs met, and you deserve kindness. 

If you are in a position of privilege and you pull this card, consider reaching out to others with compassion and warmth. It makes all the difference in this world where the gap between the haves and the have nots is so vast. 


If you are going through a hard time like these four cards depict, I wish you all the best. Next time we will begin to come out the other side with the cards numbered six. 

 

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