Sacred India Tarot Archive: 2,3 & 4 of Pentacles – The Awakening of Buddha


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What are Pentacles?

In the Minor Arcana, the Tarot Pentacles are its “Earth” suit – the plane of manifestation.  A Pentacle is a conscious mark or sigil.  The cross-section of a tree with its concentric rings, is a sigil, a Yantra.  Flowers and their sacred geometry are sigils;  so are the Fibernacci series, the spiral, and the laws of growth.   In every mark of nature, and everywhere in life, if we care to look, the sigils are engraved.  They appear also as omens.  They require intelligent reading.   Intelligence is of a deeper order than “cleverness”.

Fibonacci series pentacle, by Keith Critchlow (“The Hidden Geometry of Flowers”)

A Pentacle is classically a five-part pattern or circle, embodying humanity.  The Coins, by which this suit is also known, are Currency.  They bear the mark of trade.  Financial currency with its gold or paper standard, is a “promissory note”.  It is no more visible in essence, than electric current, the current of life:  our imagination gives it power.  Our coinage is a symbol, with its own temples, altars and acolytes.   It depends what we  believe in;  but without adequate means and/or a nourished belly, it is hard for the Great Work to touch base.   The Currency is the undercarriage – monetary, linguistic or psychic – which helps us/the Great Work, to survive; a relative freedom from anxiety.  Best is a balance of all three.   The Currency is a balanced state of health.

shell spiral

For the Sacred India Tarot minor-arcana, the Pentacles or Coins are “disks”.  Vishnu and other gods within Brahman the All, carry a diskus in one of their many arms.  The diskus is a sport, a weapon, a wheel.  It is thrown, it spins like a planet, it reaches target, comes to ground.   The Wheel of Karma likewise comes around, to wake us up.  Justice is the Law of action upon reaction.


Wood bird yantra


In the Buddha’s story, we decided to let the Disks be wheels.   The Buddha, who overcame the traditional habits of denial, and touched the ground all through his enlightenment, is often called The Wheel Rolling King.  He has the Wheel of Dharma;  what comes around, comes round, as a Kalpa, seasonal leaf through trees, or an insect life-cycle.  What comes round comes around, in our life, to help us untie the knot.


Paul Foster Case


The Buddha Nature is itself a sigil:  right conduct, compassion, the Great Middle Way.  The  shining Pentacle of Gautama Buddha’s lifetime among us, was and is his awareness and concern for human suffering, disease and death.   What can be done?  How can freedom be found, through these vicious and perpetual circles?   He applied himself to pioneer a way which was practical, and – like Jesus a few centuries later – overturned rigid, doctrinal tables in the temple of the One.

The Buddha’s long life and teaching is supremely practical.   Practice is the way of the Pentacles, the Suit of Earth.


Two of Pentacles

Rohit sent me this in 2003, as an early image-reference marked “Two of Pentacles”.  It is the only one I have.  I am not sure what he had in mind.  A woman offers fruit – or sea-urchins? to another woman.  They share a Mona Lisa smile, or secret.  Perhaps it is the Buddha’s feminine nature – the women who surrounded his pampered youth;  his early sexuality and experience.  The most beautiful portraits of the Buddha all have a heavy-lidded cosmic tenderness – the smile which just suggests an invitation.

In his instructions for the Suit, Rohit wrote to me: 

“A prince in the lap of luxury, surrounded by beautiful girls, in a garden, walled off. There is poverty sickness and suffering on the outside but his father has kept him from unpleasant sights, determined he will never know of pain and decay – to the extent of removing dead leaves, branches and flowers at night!

“He is a very capable and intelligent young man but he is also being stifled in this curious ignorance he is being kept in.

“Compositionally this is not going to be easy – I know.”



My solution is graphic – the young man in his garden of delight, is disturbed by an intuition  beneath the surface of things.  He awakes uneasily.   Is not this so also, if we give too much attention to a meditative bliss, and not enough to where we are?  What are we starving or neglecting?   Balanced spirituality must be embodied.  The Buddha found this out by trial and error:  first, through sheer empathy, he would endure his own period of starvation.

His eye of Consciousness – rather like ancient Egyptian profiles – opens sideways from the eyes of life.  It is;  it will be;  it always was.

In many teachings, the blind lead the blind.  Studying this card, makes me reflective.

The Wheels are the old teaching:  as above so below.  The beggar woman touches the wheel as if to implore divine grace.  Her baby hasn’t milk – her husband is blind.


Correspondence March 2003 – Gautam (the publisher), Rohit and Jane:

“Dear Gautam – got yours and Rohit’s … Re Ace Pents, I certainly did not know that the ladies should be dressed Vedically.  I will see if I can reduce them.  Maybe they are not needed at all?”  (Later, the extra ladies, or birth-helpers, were removed, so the Buddha’s mother is on her own – see the Ace of Disks Birth of Buddha (earlier post.)

“I’ve started on Two of pents, and plan to send it to you when I’ve done one or two others as well.  Am recovering from bronchitis and not quite up to scratch, but much better this week.  I would like from you just a few more hints on the ‘teaching’ in each one.  The idea of using the Dharma wheel as the coin, came spontaneously, and can be used in each card of the suit.  But I would like indications from you as to where you would like them placed geometrically.  For instance in Two of pents, the design has Prince Siddhartha in the garden, top half, with a (smaller) wheel in the background, rather like the sun – and two less fortunates (whom he senses but cannot see) in the bottom half.  They also have a golden wheel above them, and are divided from the Prince by a wall.

“As I said before, I’m doing the minor arcana in a slightly simpler style than the major – otherwise it will take years.  In most decks, the minor are more symbolic and less literal than the major;  some are purely geometric.  My aim is to try to keep a consistent formal design and colour scheme through the suit.  Any suggestions?”


“Dear gautam and jane – I have nothing to add to what jane says here, it is all great stuff.  There is no message or teaching coming forth from each card in the suits, unless it is the key-word association.  Perhaps that would help.  I will send off a list. 

“Jane’s ideas on card no.2 in Pentacles is great.  I do not wish to get in between her and her obviously inspired streak!  she is on the right track.  I agree we need to keep time in mind, but still, the minor arcana cannot be a dip or drop in the quality of effort.  We are aiming to compete with the best in the world.  The Mythic Tarot would perhaps be the only real competition we have.  A few extra months does not matter – this pack is for being done to last many centuries!  Since each suit is a theme and story inspired one, it will take some time, more time than if we just drew the pentacles or wands.  That is an acceptable slow process.  With regard, ROHIT“.


Fragment from Rohit – “… would indicate, in fact sometimes wearing considerably less.  (You could not possibly be expected to know this, and I missed communicating it, because it is simply taken for granted, and not even part of normal consciousness.)  In fact India was a gorgeous and sensual place then, the richest country of the ancient and classical world.  The pentacles suit should reflect that spectacle and grandeur.  You cannot possibly overdo the ‘effects of opulence’, especially the use of gold ornamentation, if you wish to draw it that way.  The south-east Asian and Indian visual references we sent, will help here.  For the whole pack in fact, we should keep Opulence, Splendour and Gorgeousness as keywords.  I think we are doing very well indeed, and creating something genuinely valuable for the world here.”



3 of Pentacles

Rohit’s Instructions:  “Curiosity drives the young prince out of his faux paradise. He sees Four Sights from his chariot , Disease, Old age, Death and a Sage who seems to have found peace in his meditation.

“Again to cram all of this into a rectangular space is going to be difficult, but I trust you will find some way round the difficulty. It is regarded as a great victory in Buddhist literature for the human spirit, so the sense of potential and urgency the prince feels is central – not the harrowing sights.”


Visual References for SITA pentacles/disks 3 – The Four Sights.  Note the Wheel


The Earth disks tip the scales from the Sky disk, with the desire to see and understand the reality of suffering:  poverty, disease, old age and death.   These “sigils” (pentacles) shocked Prince Siddhartha profoundly, and altered his course of life from the local to the universal plane.  On his fourth sally from the palace, he met a sage whose serenity (despite starvation) sustained a blessing on the piteous human condition.   There must be a way …


Rohit’s Instructions for Card 4 –

“The story explains the context but it is very clear he left when his wife and newly born child were sleeping. He left on horseback instead of his chariot to confound any pursuers. Again the situation is regarded as a huge triumph for consciousness.

“There has always been a tension inherent in this episode, he is refusing to do his duty to follow his entelechy! If that can be conveyed it would be great…”


Four Sights, Signs, Wheels … the Law is aligned, and the household sleeps.  The Prince rides forth on muffled hooves, in an etheric shroud to protect his destiny.   Yet he bears in his mind, his wife and child.  In due course, they became his devotees.   The Buddha’s tempo of evolution is seemingly accelerated, in relation to theirs.

Throughout sacred and esoteric history, we come across different time-signatures in tandem, like a raga with two or more rhythms through it.


Correspondence – April 2003 

“Hi jane – card one looks much better now.  We’re very happy with 2,3 and 4, and suggest u just ‘go with the flow’. … Warm regards, Gautam.

Rohit:  “It perfectly captures the sense of luxurious blindness to reality and the imperative for change, which is the message of the Two in the suit, anyway.   

“Three is dramatic, even somewhat harrowing, but that is exactly what the young prince must have experienced in the Four Sights – something that knocked the bottom out of his shallow ‘successful’ world.  It is a very strong composition indeed, made all the more powerful by substituting a skull, which has archetypal resonance, over the more obvious choice of a corpse. 

“The Four has a somewhat Mughal miniature feel to it, with its split perspective to indicate simultaneity of action in different places.  I think the prince has never looked so regal as at the moment he is going to renounce all the trappings of royalty.  As always, Jane draws animals marvellously!  It is a poignant card, not a dramatic one.”


“Painting the Buddhist Wheel of Life”, photo by Scott Aaron,



Shyam-Kali Yantra, 18th century Rajasthan.  Yantra with magic pentagon symbolizing the five elements: earth, water, fire, air, ether – may be vitalized as a safeguard against destruction and evil, and for good fortune.


Sri Chakra Yantra created in an electronic vibration field, an experiment in the translation of sound into vision.  A similar experience is ‘sensed’ during ritual worship when the yantra pattern ‘dematerializes’, appearing to dissolve into a sound-pattern or vibration field of spoken mantras.  Still for a film by Ronald Nameth.

These two Yantras are not of the Buddhist tradition, but they serve to demonstrate the universality of the Wheel:  the precious seeds we bury in our lives.




For all other Sacred India Tarot posts, look under Recent Posts, or Archive of All Posts in the title bar.

Rohit Arya

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five languages} the first book on tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga. 

Earlier posts about the deck, including the first 15 Major Arcana archives are in   The deck is copyrighted (c) 2011 to the publishers, Yogi Impressions Books pvt, and available also on Amazon and internationally.




My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books).  

Published recently online: The Reckless Fruit in two parts
– here are the links to click


1 thought on “Sacred India Tarot Archive: 2,3 & 4 of Pentacles – The Awakening of Buddha

  1. Pingback: 4 of Disks | Tarotator

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