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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Journey Through My Decks: 7 of Pentacles

Our journey continues with the Seven of Orbs (Pentacles) from The Shakespearian Tarot by Dolores Ashcroft Nowicki, with illustrations by Paul Hardy (Diamond Books).

“Seven fair branches springing from one root...”

On the 7 of Orbs we see the Duchess of Gloucester speaking to John of Gaunt. The setting is dominated by a stained-glass window that depicts a Jesse Tree, showing lineal descent (traditionally, that of Jesus). In this case, the Jesse Tree depicts the seven sons of Edward III.

The Duke of Gloucester has been murdered, and Richard (son of the “_Black Prince_” [Edward of Woodstock] and grandson of Edward III) has been accused of plotting and supervising the murder. Gaunt declares that he will not move against the duke’s murderers, but will leave their punishment to God.

The duchess chastises him, replying: “Finds brotherhood in thee no sharper spur? Hath love in thy old blood no living fire? Edward's seven sons, whereof thyself art one, Were as seven vials of his sacred blood, Or seven fair branches springing from one root... Call it not patience, Gaunt; it is despair: In suffering thus thy brother to be slaughter'd...”

When Gaunt (Richard’s uncle) dies, Richard seizes his estates. In the end, Richard is defeated and surrenders to Gaunt’s son, Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford (afterwards King Henry IV). Overhearing Henry express a wish that he might be rid of Richard, Sir Pierce of Exton murders Richard at Pomfret Castle and delivers his body to Henry. Henry denies that he wanted Richard killed, but the deed is done. At long last, John of Gaunt’s patience has paid off.

It is this patience that Ashcroft-Nowicki focuses on in her interpretation of the 7 of Orbs. “Rewards will be some time in coming,” she writes. “Have patience...but don’t hold your breath.” Because the suit of Orbs is associated with “the world and mastery of the earth,” this card calls my attention to the realm of Earth: material matters, physical world, practical everyday life. If the card is reversed, Ashcroft-Nowicki cautions, “expect to have to pay out money on unexpected bills.”

ABOUT THE DECK: Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki combined her love of Shakespeare with her love of Tarot to create The Shakespearian Tarot. Illustrated by Paul Hardy, the deck was developed by Ashcroft-Nowicki over a two-year period during which she combed her “battered leather-bound copy of the Bard. . . looking for just the right scene, just the right words to match the meaning of the cards.” She chose quotes to match the pictures and meanings as closely as possible. Her goal was to create a working tool rather than a collector’s item.


  1. It is a beautiful card. I like the medieval look. But I guess you have to be educated in the works of Shakespeare to enjoy the stories behind to pictures.(which I am obviously not :D)

    1. Very true, Ellen. It is a fun deck for me because I do enjoy Shakespeare. I use it for personal readings and whenever I want to brush up on my Shakespeare. :-)

  2. Can't help but draw comparison to the Joshua Tree.

    1. Hello Anonymous, are you referring to the Yucca brevifolia? If so, what comparison are you making between that and the Jesse Tree?

  3. HI, I am referring to Joshua Tree National Forest in California. I did not know it was a Yucca. I guess my comparison is that maybe Joshua Tree is cherished because it has nostalic resemblance to the Jesse Tree.

    It is really interesting that the Portraits are like pears on a pear tree and not part of the Jesse Tree itself. Some disks (Pentacles) [I use Orb] appear to have reversible inteaction with branches but the portraits on the Jesse Tree were affixed.


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~ Zanna