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Observations placeholder

Tarot - 05 Minor Arcana - 05s Adversity [purification]



Type of Spiritual Experience


All the fives from whatever suit are cards of adversity. These cards indicate conflict, loss, and other negative experiences in your life that must be overcome.

 In Aleister Crowley’s Tarot pack for example, the cards and their meanings are worry, disappointment, defeat and strife, different sorts of adversity that can be helped if you face them and recognise the problem. 

We have provided some example Tarot cards to show how the different circumstances have been represented pictorially.

In terms of the spiritual path, these act like further tests, but they can be a good deal more severe than the tests used to judge whether one is suited to the path ahead.  We have called this purification on the diagram as one has to prove oneself whiter than white during this stage and REALLY relearn

The guiding authority at this stage is, surprisingly, the Hierophant, although the High Priestess and Magician may take on further guiding roles as might the Hermit.

The Sephirot shows us to be at the level of Hesed and Gevurah and since masculine and feminine should be acting in parallel, both apply.

It may be that correction requires masculine traits or feminine traits, as such one takes the appropriate action to correct the mistakes.






A description of the experience

Disc [Earth] - Worry

The Five of Pentacles  symbolizes severe adversity.

The Rider Waite tarot, for example, shows two individuals walking outside while it is snowing. Not only are they cold, they are also sick, poor, tired, and hungry. It looks as if they are lacking the basic necessities of life.  One of the individuals in the card has crutches, while the other figure has a shawl covering her head. She is walking barefoot in the snow.

There is a black wall in the background with a stained glass window featuring the five pentacles, suggesting a church of some kind.  But they are outside it.  The Five of Pentacles symbolises a time of hardship and insecurity.

The meaning of this card can be deep loneliness, illness, poverty or loss.  But this may be because one has turned one’s back on any spiritual support, the warm glow of the Light.

Cup  [Water] – Disappointment. 

 Let‘s look at a relatively ‘traditional’ depiction of the Five of Cups. Here we see a figure facing away from us, looking down at the three overturned cups in front of him.

He’s so intent on these and what’s spilling out of them, that he doesn’t see the two that still stand, intact.  So we have someone who feels deep sorrow at what’s happened (the three cups emptying), but who’s ignoring or overlooking what still exists (the two full cups). 

The person is being held back by the compulsion to look only at the loss and the emotions that accompany it – rather than build on what still exists.

Air [Sword] – Defeat. 

The Five of Swords card depicts a young man who has a look of contempt on his face. He is looking at the enemies that he believes he has managed to conquer. There are five swords that he possesses – which he has taken from the other combatants who are in the card. The two other figures are walking away from him with a sense of loss and sadness. Above them, the sky is tumultuous and cloudy, which indicates that not everything is well, despite the fact that the battle is apparently over.

This card indicates that despite the fact you think you’ve won, you might still lose in the big picture, because you have annoyed or hurt those that you have argued with, and as a result, you are on the road to isolating yourself. Perhaps, at the moment, you believed that it was more important to be right rather than appreciate and understand where the other side was coming from.  What is more important to you? Mutual progress, or winning? This might require you to stand up to a conflict within yourself.

Wand [Fire] – Strife

The Five of Wands depicts five men all holding their own wands and brandishing them up in the air. Like with most fives in the tarot, it is about some kind of disagreement or conflict. 

The Five of Wands can also mean that you are or will be facing competition in an area that you are not used to, it may even mean that this is not healthy competition and you will need to watch your back, that fear has engendered aggression and what you are hoping to win may be taken from you through a malicious or underhanded act from others.  It may also depict a problem in communication, for example in a situation where no one really wants to listen to the other - people who are not patient enough to listen to what anyone else is saying. They only want to be heard.

This tarot card is an indicator that you accept the competition as a way for you to improve yourself without feeling any malice towards them. This means that you should learn how to cope with them in a civil way - help them.

The source of the experience

Tarot, the

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Red and Blue

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps