Exploring the Minor Arcana: The Fives

In this series we'll be diving into the world of the Minor Arcana. Each segment will group the cards by number where we can engage in their themes and differences. For all the posts in the installment, click here.


Just looking at these fives gives us a sense of the tension they hold. Scenes of loss and struggle jump out immediately - there's not much subtlety to these scenarios and we can easily infer their meanings with just one glance. The fives are indeed all about conflict; the moments when we're first put to the test and are forced to struggle with what's before us.

Interestingly, these cards also mark a middle place. As the halfway point of the numbered cards in the Minor Arcana they show us how challenge is unavoidable and perhaps even necessary to propel us onto the next stage of our journey. With this being said there's a lot of trial and error happening in the fives. Our first attempts aren't always the best or most graceful. In fact, as we can see clearly here, they're often heavy-handed and foolish. Yet we can't learn without making our mistakes, and nowhere is the sense of actively grappling with a challenge more present than in these cards.

Explore In-Depth Minor Arcana Meanings

The  Five of Wands shows an almost endearing scene of chaos. Five people struggle with five wands. It's unclear what they're trying to accomplish. Are they attempting to create a structure together or is each person simply trying to stand their wand upright? This card illustrates the confusion that comes with mindless action and ambition, especially when it's motivated by self-interest. Instead of communicating or collaborating, the figures in this card are flailing. 

For the Five of Swords represens situations where someone has gotten carried away with their ego. Using their words and actions to further their own needs with disregard for others has left a wake of hurt feelings and confusion in their wake. This card can be seen as a Pyrrhic victory. Though the person in the foreground may not realize it yet, their actions, although they may seem justified or even celebratory in the moment, have hurt and alienated them more than helped their cause. 

The Five of Cups is a deep card that almost invites us to come to a full stop. A loss has been suffered and is being felt acutely in the present moment. We see a grieving figure in a dark cloak looking downcast at three spilled cups. The emotion from this loss is consuming and unavoidable. Feeling through it, however, will ultimately clear the way to a new path forward, and two full cups wait to help them along on their journey. 

Finally, the Five of Pentacles brings us to the realm of material suffering. Here two beggars walk through the snow outside what appears to be a church. Without shelter or adequate clothing they're forced to focus on the immediate moment, pushing through the storm motivated only by their connection to each other and hope for something more. This card deals with issues of financial insecurity, fear of suffering, and lack of stability. 

While not a sunny bunch of cards, the fives invite us to look at our challenges as turning points. These are moments where we must prove our mettle and earn our wisdom. Though not simple to do, the lessons that come from these cards add meaning and weight to our accomplishments and life itself. What are your thoughts on the fives? Share in the comments below!