Updated: Sep 30, 2019
The element of earth is one that resonates across the globe. We all come from the earth. Many cultural origin stories tell of divine beings descending from the heavens and creating the world and life as we know it out of the earth. The earth represents fertility, foundation, stability, and material possessions, much in the same way as the suit of Pentacles in the tarot.
The element of earth is a predominant concept found across religious traditions in much the same way as water. Earth fundamentally is the source of all life, and as civilizations developed they worshiped it for the life giving crops that came from it. In recent times there has been a resurgence of earth worship as many people explore neopaganism and earth-centered religions systems. Even in Christian traditions the creation story starts with "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." The ground on which we walk, and the environment in which we live play key roles in our identity and psyche as human beings. For this very reason depictions and artifacts of the world, mountains, and sacred landscapes have long held spiritual significance.
In the tarot the suit of Pentacles is dedicated to the element of earth. Representing worldly goods, security, stability, wealth, possessions, and careers. Yet, a lot can be gleaned from actual depictions of earth in the tarot, such as mountains, hills, paths or roads across land, farm fields and deserts.
Mountains are seen on several cards in the Rider-Waite Smith Tarot. They represent challenges to overcome and the triumphs that come along with them. They also speak to the grounded nature of the material world and the vastness of the world we live in. Mountains are immovable, like many challenges in our lives. Just as the pioneers of the American west discovered some challenges such as the Rocky Mountains are not ones you can easily sneak around - they are the ones you will have to scale, but in the end the triumph is worth the sacrifice. Some mountains within the cards appear as shear insurmountable barren cliffs speaking to the power associated with these cards, such as the Emperor. Other cards depict green lush mountains covered in trees alluding to the pay off that is to come with the challenges you must face. In others the mountains are distant and behind the figure symbolizing the past trials and tribulations the seeker has gone through. Even in some cases the mountain may even appear to be like a volcano speaking to the eruption of emotion that comes with certain concepts such as love.
In some cases we see paths leading off into the distance over hills and mountains. These cards speak to the journey we are on, the challenges we will face, and road we must travel. As the saying goes, the journey of a lifetime begins within one simple step.
Paths and mountains appearing in a reading urge you be prepared for challenges, look at the path you are and determine if its right for you, and be sure you are prepared for the journey ahead. Sometimes this can mean waiting some time to make sure you are amply prepared for the journey ahead or it can be an indication that perhaps we are setting some lofty goals that need re-evaluation. Take head when and where mountains appear in your readings they are powerful symbols of the earth very intentionally placed within the art.
Fields appear through the body of Pixie's work in the Rider Tarot. We see lush green rolling open grasslands, and even plowed farm fields ready to grow next years harvest. To use another popular saying 'You reap what you sow.' When farm fields appear in the tarot it is a sign to take head to your new endeavors and take the time to do things right. Just as a farmer must properly, plow, fertilize, sow, water, weed, and care for his crop - so must you also take great care with the seed you are planting on your life path. This symbol is a key indicator to not rush into things and take extra care and pay close attention to the topic at hand in the reading. It can also be a great indicator of timing, remind you or your querent that patience is key for the topic at hand. Just as a farmer must wait the whole year to see the fruits of his labor, we too must exercise patience when it comes to certain things in life.
As you explore the Tarot and the meanings locked within the vast mountain ranges of symbolism I encourage you to look for the symbol of earth, and pay close attention to what it is trying to tell you. Want to know more? Check out the live mini-class that I did live over on my YouTube channel here:
References: Chang, T. Susan. Tarot Correspondences: Ancient Secrets for Everyday Readers. Llewellyn Pulbications, 2018. Dean, Liz. The Ultimate Guide to Tarot: a Beginners Guide to the Cards, Spreads, and Revealing the Mystery of the Tarot. Fair Winds Press, 2015.
Gardner, Helen, et al. Gardners Art through the Ages. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1991. Wen, Benebell. Holistic Tarot. North Atlantic Books, 2015. Images Sourced From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Public_domain_image_resources