The Two of Pentacles Tarot Card Meaning

The meaning of the Two of Pentacles is about miscommunication or potential deception and not just about balancing your time and money. And our research shows why is it the original “Gaslighting” card.

The Two of Pentacles card is one of several cards that has become disconnected from its original meaning. When we look at the Golden Dawn Book T meanings for the card, from which both A. E. Waite and Aleister Crowley built their decks, we will not only see the original meaning, but also why Pamela Colman Smith chose such a specific image to illustrate the Two of Pentacles.

Golden Dawn Meaning for the Two of Pentacles

The harmony of change, alternation of gain and loss; weakness and strength; everchanging occupation; wandering, discontented with any fixed condition of things; now elated, then melancholy; industrious, yet unreliable; fortunate through prudence of management, yet sometimes unaccountably foolish; alternatively talkative and suspicious. Kind, yet wavering and inconsistent. Fortunate in journeying. Argumentative.

This derives from the magical correspondence of the Two of Pentacles to the Kabbalah and the Zodiac, where it corresponds to Chockmah of Assiah (Wisdom of Action) and the decan of Jupiter in Capricorn (which we might call Expansion in Steadiness). Oddly, the Golden Dawn interpret Chockmah of Assiah as “pleasant change, a visit to friends”, which seems a very mundane event for the deep Kabbalistic meaning of the correspondence. However, this is also from where we get the title “The Lord of Harmonious Change”, Chockmah being at the top of the pillar of force on the Tree of Life, and Assiah being the lowest of the four worlds. This is not the same change or harmony as Temperance, pouring one jug into another, or the Wheel of Fortune, spinning whilst remaining on a fixed axis – this is a rolling change, a change alternating between one current and another.

When A. E. Waite offers the meaning of the Two of Pentacles in Pictorial Key to the Tarot, without being able to clearly define its source in the secrets of Book T, he presents it as follows.

Pictorial Key to the Tarot meaning for the Two of Pentacles

On the one hand it is represented as a card of gaiety, recreation and its connexions, which is the subject of the design; but it is read also as news and messages in writing, as obstacles, agitation, trouble, embroilment.

Additional: Troubles are more imaginary than real.

Reversed: Enforced gaiety, simulated enjoyment, literal sense, handwriting, composition, letters of exchange.

Additional: Bad omen, ignorance, injustice.

The card is here more about news and messages – and imaginary troubles. Waite has moved away a little from the meaning of the card as alternating change and instead rather turned it into ‘conflicting communication’. These still remain close to the duality of Chockmah, the “2” of the Tree of Life, switching from one side to another in the world of the pentacles, Assiah.

Illustration by Pamela Colman Smith for the Two of Pentacles

Pamela Colman Smith chose to base this card on the design of “False Mercury” in a little illustrated notebook privately printed and distributed by artist Edward Burne-Jones. It was this notebook that was given to the British Museum in 1909, the year that Pamela and A. E. Waite visited the museum for inspiration for the deck from the Sola Busca Tarot – a selection of this deck was on display in the museum, or available to their research.

In this botanical and poetic journal, Edward Burne-Jones had used the popular names or translations of the Latin names for herbs and flowers as inspiration for each illustration. Thus, a flower commonly called “Comes He Not”, was illustrated as a lonely figure waiting on top of a crennelated parapet, from which a flag flies – almost certainly the inspiration for another “Two” card, the Two of Wands.

Pamela chose the very specific image of a mercurial figure balancing two spheres whilst standing in front (or on) a boat which is being tossed by waves out in the ocean. In the original drawing, the “False Mercury” is presenting the sailor(s) visions of shelter and home to their delirious states. Mercury is here a “false” messenger, misleading the sailors in terms of their rescue.

Burne-Jones was illustrating the common woodland plant known as “Dog’s Mercury”, or Mercurialis perennis, which is named ‘false mercury’ because unlike other mercury plants, it is highly poisonous.

So it is a perfect design for the two-sided nature which is the meaning of the Two of Pentacles, particularly in communications – which is ruled by Mercury.

The card is actually the original “gaslighting” card, long before that term would be coined for specifically misleading communication and behaviour.

Contemporary Meanings of the Two of Pentacles in a Tarot Card Reading

Romance and Relationships

In the realm of romance and relationships, on a surface level, the Two of Pentacles signifies the balancing act that relationships often require. It suggests a phase where you might be juggling multiple responsibilities or dealing with fluctuations in emotional dynamics. This card indicates the need for harmony and adaptability in a relationship, especially when navigating through changes or challenges. The emphasis is on maintaining equilibrium and open communication to ensure both partners’ needs are met and the relationship remains stable amidst the changing tides of life.

On a deeper level, it warns against deliberate miscommunication on your part or that of your partner. It is worth calling out and testing the ground on which you think you both stand.

Finance and Resources

Financially, the Two of Pentacles is a reminder of the importance of balance in handling resources. It suggests a period where financial decisions need careful consideration, especially if you’re managing multiple expenses or income sources. This card could indicate a need for budgeting or re-evaluating financial strategies to ensure stability. It’s about finding a sustainable approach to financial management, where you are neither too extravagant nor overly frugal, but instead, finding a middle path that ensures long-term security.

There may also be a deceit in your financial world, or someone misleading you about the potential of an investment or project.


In a career context, the Two of Pentacles symbolizes the need to balance various tasks and responsibilities. It may reflect a time where you’re handling multiple projects or roles, requiring adept time management and prioritization skills. This card encourages adaptability and flexibility in your professional life, highlighting the importance of being versatile and resilient in the face of workload fluctuations or changing job demands.

Ensure in your workplace that everything is being clearly communicated, and get in writing anything that feels unclear at the moment.


Regarding home life, the Two of Pentacles points to managing domestic responsibilities alongside other life demands. It could signify a phase of juggling home duties with external commitments, necessitating a harmonious balance to maintain a peaceful and functional household. This card encourages finding a rhythm and routine that accommodates all aspects of home life, ensuring that neither personal nor domestic obligations are neglected.

Education and Learning

In education and learning, the Two of Pentacles emphasizes the balance between academic pursuits and other life aspects. It suggests a period where you might be managing your studies along with other commitments, requiring efficient time management and organization skills. The card signifies the importance of maintaining equilibrium to ensure that your educational goals are achieved without overwhelming other areas of your life.

Spiritual and Mystical

In spiritual and mystical contexts, the Two of Pentacles highlights the equilibrium between the spiritual and the mundane. It suggests a period of integrating spiritual practices into everyday life, balancing worldly responsibilities with inner growth. This card encourages you to find harmony between your spiritual journey and daily life, suggesting that spiritual enlightenment can be pursued even amidst routine activities.

Magical Initiation

For those on a path of magical initiation or esoteric practices, the Two of Pentacles symbolizes the balancing act between the material world and the mystical realm. It suggests a period of learning to harmonize your magical practices with your mundane life, ensuring that your spiritual growth is grounded in reality. This card serves as a reminder that true mastery in magical practices involves integrating these skills seamlessly into everyday life, balancing the esoteric with the practical.

Chockmah in Assiah is here the worker in the workshop, accepting the duality of the world whilst working to change it or themselves.

Tarot Card Meaning of the Two of Pentacles as a Yes/No

The Tarot card meaning of the Two of Pentacles is a qualified YES. This card suggests that the overall situation is very positive, but it may have to come and go before it gets to some resolution. Accept some pluses and minuses, some progress and setback, some approaches and retreats, but the overall balance is towards a harmonious outcome, so generally, a YES.

An overall meaning for the Two of Pentacles tarot card in one sentence: “Balance your resources and keep it real during a period of positive change.”

Further Reading

Goodwin, T. & Katz, M. Secrets of the Waite-Smith Tarot. Llewellyn Worldwide Publishing, 2015.

Bain, D., Goodwin, T. & Katz, M. A New Dawn for Tarot: The Original Tarot of the Golden Dawn. Forge Press, 2014.