Bohemian Gothic-The Tens


HoneyBea said:
Now concerned that I have grasp perhaps the wrong meaning for this card, made me look it up in Karen Mahony's book that accompanies the deck, she says of this card
Obviously, we can find that meaning for the card and, once again, I'm not arguing with what you, personally see in the card or what books by authors you respect say about it. Certainly older tarot authors like Mathers and Thierens are in agreement with you in defining the card as "Happiness" though less that of happiness from love and friendship than from getting what you most wished for, whatever that might be (love and friendship included).

I'm merely saying that I think interpreting it as meaning "value friendship etc. over wealth" is a little narrow for my tastes. The reason why I say this is because authors who I greatly respect put it this way when they view the 10/Pents: "The Lord of Wealth": ...material gain so vast it may lose it's importance." Or as the Thoth deck puts it, "When wealth accumulates beyond a certain point, it must either become completely inert and cease to be wealth, or call in the aid of intelligence to use it rightly."

That, to me, personally, is not the same as "love, friendship, etc. is more important than money." That, to me, is a very interesting message indeed. It has less to do with wagging its finger at us for going after material goods, and more to do with exploring the very intriguing results of having vast amounts of money. That can range from the Scrooge who has turned accumulating wealth into the be-all and end-all even though he could never spend what he's got in one lifetime, to Citizen Kane, spending money with abandon on so many warehouses of stuff that he can't even remember what he's got. It can range from a rich housewife who can buy a museum to feature her own artwork even though she can't paint, to philanthropists who create libraries, hospitals, museums and foundations with their money and thus, enrich lives for generations, keep the arts alive, and change the world in ways no average individual, not even some governments, ever could.

Or it could, as in the case of the BG card mean that the Old Man has so much wealth it has lost it's meaning, while the siblings have so little wealth that they know what matters on all levels, including love, friendship, family, etc. :)

My point is, this sort of layered meaning really fascinates me, and avoids clashing with the 10/Cups which, in the Rider-Waite deck, is defined as: "perfection of human love and friendship." (From this website: Which is why I, personally, would quibble with interpreting the card only or primarily as "value love over money." Putting it another way, I, personally, know people with both valued love and a lot of money. I would never insult their intelligence by reminding them that, "love is more important than money." They know this. What some of them don't know is to how to understand the value of, say, having a roof over your head. It is as likely the siblings in the BG card are reminding the old man of that, as they are that "love" is more important than wealth.

Perhaps what the card is really about is what we take for granted?


All this discussion on 10/Pents makes me want to go back to 10/Cups. There is an interesting addition to the Rider-Waite definition on that one:

"Contentment, repose of the entire heart; the perfection of that state; also perfection of human love and friendship....Additional meanings: For a male Querent, a good marriage and one beyond his expectations."

It's not surprise that the BG 10/Cups does not feature an outdoor scene with rainbow and dancing children. It it is interesting that this indoor scene displays how well-to-do the family is. (The "rainbow" imagery, by the way, would seem to be in the baby's lacy blanket that arches over the child's head, as well as the arching beams of the house). Could there be more of that "additional" meaning in this card? Did our man there, standing so stiffly and displaying his family as if they were his wealth marry beyond his expectations? Does he feel he has to prove that he didn't marry just for money, or that he's worthy of being married to this woman and being the father of her children?


Thirteen said:
I'm merely saying that I think interpreting it as meaning "value friendship etc. over wealth" is a little narrow for my tastes. The reason why I say this is because authors who I greatly respect put it this way when they view the 10/Pents: "The Lord of Wealth": ...material gain so vast it may lose it's importance." Or as the Thoth deck puts it, "When wealth accumulates beyond a certain point, it must either become completely inert and cease to be wealth, or call in the aid of intelligence to use it rightly."

Well I think we can all agree that Pentacles represent money as the tangible, because that is something readily recognised, and also agree that Money has no value just sitting there, it is what you do with it that has value, that seems to be an underlying theme of Pentacles.

And I think this is the last thing I have to say on this - thanks for your insights , a different point of view is always welcome. :)


Thirteen said:
Obviously, what you see in a card you see and I won't argue that. But technically speaking--and I mean given the usual meaning of the card--the 10/Pents really doesn't refer to this.
I would be sorry if we were to be restricted to "usual meanings" - if that were so then why have a variety of decks ? One might as well have the card titles on 78 pieces of paper.....


gregory said:
I would be sorry if we were to be restricted to "usual meanings"
You misunderstand if you think I was trying to "restrict" anyone to any meaning. Read the next post after that. The cards *do* have a very broad spectrum of meaning. My argument was that I felt that the interpretation of this card as primarily or only "love is more important than money" was narrowing DOWN the broadness of the "usual" meaning, not expanding it.

To the contrary, the "usual" meaning INCLUDES that meaning and so much more. Hence, the "usual" meaning is actually broader and less restrictive.


10 of Wands. . . the very first impression I had of this card, even before I noticed the shadow on the wall (there are some cards I've had to use my lighted magnifying glass to see all detail) was that the look on her face would send me screaming into the night. She wants to share what's in that bag with someone, unlike the "lighter" interpretation of the card. . .someone who feels overburdened but is not asking for help. She's just dying for someone to come up and ask to help her carry that load.

10 of Cups. . . his whole family wants to run screaming into the night, except the baby can't, so he just zoned out. (Seriously, that baby looks half dead to me - like a "failure to thrive" baby.) Mom is just waiting for DH to turn his back so she can run out the door with the kiddos.

10 of Swords. . . I agree that this card seems to be the least representative of dysfunction on the surface. But there's a considerable amount of plant growth around the grave marker, so I have to wonder how long our lass has been coming there and crying her eyes out. Some losses take longer than others to get past, but my overriding impression is that this woman is stuck in her grief.

10 of Pentacles. . . For me, this card is about security and how one defines it. Although there is an ominous tone to the scene, I think the old man is jealous of the young couple. They have security he has never been able to find, because he's been looking in all the wrong places. He's remembering what could have been.

Even his dog has wandered out the door when he opened it. Perhaps he has spent his life so preoccupied with amassing material wealth that he failed to pay attention to the most important of legacies, and as a result, has no one to whom he can leave all that "stuff." I think probably most of us know someone like that, and when we think of that person, we make a vow to ourselves that we must never become that person.


For me, the ten of pentacles in this deck was one of those 'a-ha!' moments that happens from time to time. I didn't understand it at first then suddenly it came clear and made sense. Like others in this thread I see the couple in the card as possibly being poor in material wealth but endlessly rich in spiritual/emotional wealth. The man at the gate on the otherhand, I imagine an opulent palace behind him and although he has every 'thing' he could possibly need, he sees the couple & wonders what they could possibly have to smile about... he is missing the point, you see. He is actually the poorer one but possibly doesn't realise it.

The dog... well, for me the dog sees it all, as it really is.

swimming in tarot

10 of Pentacles, mostly

Couldn't we simply say that the old man has never figured out how to do something fantastically worthwhile with his wealth (and may never have thought he ought to), and has thus NOT realized the spiritual value of wealth, an interpretation befitting a dark deck? Presumably he has no legacy of descendants, either.

Other questions relating to this card:
-wouldn't it be a servant opening the outer gate, usually? Is it hard for him to keep servants around? I assume the old man is the master of the house. Is he too cheap to hire any, or too nasty?
-where are the right hands of the young couple? At first I'd assumed that hers is tucked into her jacket for warmth (her jacket opens on the side traditional for a man, incidentally) and that his is tucked between the sack and his back, perhaps to keep some lumpy object from poking him. But if they have no right hands, why not? Bad luck? In some places, thieves were punished by having their right hands cut off. If that's the case here, it casts a different light on their attitude toward material things.

As for the 10 of cups, I find value in what has been said already, and I also propose, as others have elsewhere, that the father is prone to violence with very little provocation. This may explain why his wife is looking so intently at him: she is reading him for the subtlest clues so she can avoid doing anything that might provoke such an occurrence; and it is why his elder child has distanced herself in this picture. Even in a patriarchal society, this man seems too dominant in the context of a family portrait.


The 10 of Cups in this deck gives me the horrors. the baby looks absolutely dead to me, the mother seems not to know or care, the father is detached and elsewhere, and the kid is seriously creepy and perhaps dangerous. She's really separated from the rest of the family--excluded perhaps? Did she have something to do with the baby's death? A totally dysfunctional family where no-one connects to anyone else, and any kind of subtle abuse looks possible. Maybe they're all Vampires? It would explain them...they don't seem very human. I don't think I'd last 5 minutes in a room with any of them, let alone the lot.
So as the Happy Family card, it's a bit different. I wonder if it's meant to show the trap required and expected "love" and duty can be?


I've been following this thread with great interest, just absorbing everyone's wisdom. I just got this deck recently, so I don't have a ton to add, but in the ten of pentacles, the light coming from the door was one of the first things I saw.

It's eminently warm, and inviting. That low radiance casting on the sidewalk does not speak of a drafty foreboding manse. It doesn't even look like a door, to me, it looks like a gate, the light suggesting better things, behind it. The guy has a lot to offer, I think. Maybe the youngsters are so wrapped up in each other, and whatever they're carrying, that they're missing a grand opportunity? Missing some kind of magic lurking around the corner? The dog isn't escaping, he looks like kind of a pleasant companionable animal, the dog knows where it's at, he's standing right in that warm glow.

Furthermore, what's that girl hiding in her coat?