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Observations placeholder

Tarot - 06 Minor Arcana - 04s Power and Desire [Intellect]



Type of Spiritual Experience


The four cards cover the need to cut back on one’s desires – desires for power, desires for wealth, desires for influence and luxury and so on.  The message is loud and clear when we see the sequence of the cards, you cannot take your wealth with you to the grave.  Once you are gone so is all this power and influence.

A whole host of ‘sins’ are covered by this card – covetousness, greed, avarice, gluttony.   They are all “sins of desire”, as such the obvious message of this card is that it is about being content .  Greed for example is actually defined as “a rapacious desire for and pursuit of material possessions”.  Given the state of the planet, greed is a major problem at the moment, as it is simply unsustainable.

But as we can see from the cards these desires include a lust for power, controlling other people, attempting to use them as your workhorse or trying to exert your authority over their lives, and as we know power corrupts.


The next group of cards after the 03s [Sub-conscious] – the 02s - are about Balance.  This group of cards - the 04s – are about the Intellect [Conscious].  Thus in terms of progression/ascension, if one is able to Balance the refined and improved left brained Intellect [Conscious mind] with the refined and improved right brained Intuitive side [Sub-conscious], then one is on the way to achieving the final breakthrough spiritually.

As we have seen the sub-conscious is always symbolically thought of as ‘feminine’.  As we progress even further spiritually into the Major Arcana this feminine wisdom directs The High Priestess, the Empress, and of course the symbolic Moon.

The Conscious is always symbolically thought of as ‘masculine.  And thus as we progress even further spiritually into the Major Arcana this masculine wisdom directs the Magician, The Emperor, the Hierophant and of course the symbolic Sun. 

In the Sephirot it is represented by Hokhmah [ Chokhmah]

A description of the experience

Disks [Earth] - Power

In a number of cards, the Four Of Pentacles shows a crowned figure, having a pentacle [disk/coin] over his crown; money and possessions rule all.  He clasps another with his hands and arms; and two pentacles are under his feet.  So this is covetousness of material possessions.  He is by implication, a hoarder of wealth.  ‘Mine not yours’.

Where the greed is an inordinate desire to acquire or possess more than one needs, especially with respect to material wealth, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, but excessive resource usage also occurs, and suddenly rain forests are burnt down, species disappear and the climate changes.

Greed and misuse of power may eventually sink us all rich and poor alike [figuratively and literally] eventually.

Cups [Water] - Luxury

In the Rider Waite design for this card – the Four Of Cups— we see a young man is seated under a tree and contemplates three cups set on the grass before him. He is not content.  So self obsessed is he that he does not see the magical arm issuing from a cloud offering him yet another cup.

He is incapable of feeling gratitude at the spiritual gifts with which he has been blessed so far, and so self obsessed is he -  ‘navel gazing’ as we would say, - that he cannot see the magic, mystery, and infinite possibilities to experience spiritual life to its fullest being offered him - if only he would open his awareness to its presence.

The Four of Cups reminds us that we are the only limiting factor to our own endless gain of spiritual as opposed to material riches. It is up to us to open ourselves (uncross our arms), open our eyes, and reach out to embrace all the enhancement that naturally flows to us (as depicted by the levitating/magically appearing cup in this card).”

The Four of Cups represents our tendency to take for granted the things that we have, whilst at the same time being discontent at perhaps what we see as slow spiritual progress.  If you have gone to a course about spirituality and started by saying ‘what I want to get out of this course is'….’I want, I want, I want’ – you are this man.

The spiritual realm gives us what we need at the time, and we are paced according to how much we realise this.

The Four of Cups requires, nay demands! a self-evaluation of your attitude so that you can pull yourself out of this. The solution is likely right in front of you, the hand is offering you a way out, but you must release yourself out of your mental stubbornness and deploy a new approach.

Crowley’s card is different in its approach.  There are spiritual riches in abundance if only we realised it – his cups ‘runneth over!’

By using the methods on the site and opening your eyes to the transient beauty of life you may be able to overcome this impasse.  Though life is not perfect, there is beauty in it, and joy comes from choosing to see this beauty.

Swords [Air] - Truce

The Four of Swords shows the effigy or statue of a knight lying horizontally on a tomb. He is shown praying for his salvation now that he has died.

One sword lies beneath the knight, symbolising a single point of focus, and three swords hang above him, pointing downwards towards his head and torso. The stained-glass window above him shows a woman and child together and scenes from everyday life as well as the image of a saint. 

The clear message is, you cannot take it with you – all this accumulated wealth, all these possessions, all this search for power at the expense of those things that really matter and will make you happy and content – like your child and wife.

Act now, it is saying, don’t wait until you are near death to suddenly decide you have wasted your entire life on the accumulation of worthless ‘things’.  The big imposing castle, the wealth, the power.

The Four of Swords comes as a sign to take a step back and regain perspective. Spend time with your loved ones – re-evaluate the basis on which you assess whether something is ‘valuable’.  The Four of Swords is an indicator that you need to take some time to re-assess your idea of what is or is not 'valuable'.

Wands [Fire] - Completion

The Four of Wands cards usually show four great staves planted in the foreground, from which a great garland is suspended.  One male and one female or occasionally two female figures celebrate, looking happy and content.  On some cases the four Wands are crystal tipped. There is a canopy of flowers on the card which resembles the canopy that is particularly characteristic of the traditional Jewish ceremony of celebration.

The overall meaning of the Four of Wands is clearly that it heralds celebration as well as a harmonious, happy and relaxed time.   The goal of creating a proper balance – reducing desires, learning contentment, appreciating the spiritual riches and blessings bestowed, has been attained.

The use of male and female figures is symbolically more accurate, as the pursuit of power at least tends to be a masculine activity, and the presence of the feminine better indicates that balance has been restored.  On the other hand, women have a very unfortunate tendency to shop until they drop, thus again, the addition of the more reasoned masculine curb on this propensity, shows balance has been restored here as well.

In many cards the positioning of the figures is beyond the portal - the wands are made to look like twin towers and the figures are then symbolically about to cross the bridge through to the aether level.  In other words, the act of reducing desires - whether for power or materialistic wealth - is one of the most successful things one can do spiritually and the way is open to enter the holy of holys - the inner court, where the major arcana can be found


The source of the experience

Tarot, the

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps