The fives break away from the lesser foundational numbers and stand up on legs. Life is breathed into them. Dynacism is now a trait, as we move into the greater primary numbers.
As with all of the Tarot numbers, we can choose to make them as complicated as we want or as relevant as we want. I choose relevancy over complexity every time. Always ask first “Why do you believe that? What makes more sense to you, a mysterious meaning… or a function that you use each and every day?” Meaning only exists when a number is organic and relatable.
What makes fives so personal is their relationship to the corporeal realm. Each hand and foot has five digits, as do many mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Our worldly experiences are recorded by the five senses: touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. The number five is felt through the body, eluding to four limbs and the head. Like the five on a face of gaming dice, four pips plus a central pip, it appears to be the outstretched limbs and body of a human. This quincunx design can be perceived as the incarnated conscience: 4 plus 1. With this, we begin to recognize our physical limits with the number five, accepting our mortality as human beings.
There are five elements in Ancient Greek philosophy, earth, air, fire, water, and ether; and in the East Asian traditions, water, earth, wood, fire, and metal. A nod to the idea of five elemental associations can be seen in the movie The Fifth Element. Inasmuch people associate the Tarot suits to certain classical elements, they may see the 22 trump cards as a type of fifth element, trancending the basic four.
The five books of the Torah, the pentatuch, contain written Law; Buddhism teaches the five commandments of Ānantarika-karma, and Islam has its Five Pillars. The universal amplification of these ideas allows the fives to be associted with morality or religious obligations. The Pathogoreans thought so highly of the number that they called it the marriage of the heaven and earth.
In modern culture there are five regular days of business, and can be indicative of economy. There is no overload with the fives, for they still have the weekend.
The five continents and the five Olympic Rings remind of us of the earth’s globe, and how the games connect humanity across the world. We percieve competition and bold physical activity in this number.
The pentatonic scale, the only musical scale with the least number of notes but generally still considered a complete scale, contains five notes. It is can be heard in most popular music. Its ancient origins provide a range of qualities, intervals, and moods, but regardless of its structure, it is universally pleasing and versitile. Often it is the first star shape we learn to draw, mostly pointing up but sometimes pointing down. Even the common perception of a seastar has 5 arms. The 5 pointed star has both magical and childlike associations.
Using the Fives in Tarot
Remember the Tarot suits are bound to the numbers, and may be primary, secondary, or equal to the importance of numbers depending on the context of reading the cards. When the fives show up, first consider asking or describing to whom the 5 applies. The fives describe more than just the body, but you can bet a five will relate back to humanity in some way or another.
The Tarot suits become personal with the fives. They affect us to our core. We feel our flow with the cups, we know of our self-worth with the coins, we discover our limitations with the batons, we and decide who gets cut with the swords.
We can read the number five in terms of degrees. It is half of ten, and feels as though it is in the middle. Is the glass half empty, or half full? The fives bargain with what they have been given. Negatives and positives are immaterial here because the fives describe tension in both directions. We may see a poverty of suits in the fives: we possess, but it’s never enough for what we think we deserve.
If you want to get esoteric with the Fives, go for it. But please always ask yourself if it makes sense first. Complicated does not always equal better. The fives should feel like stark reality, and carying all the emotions that are attached to it.
Stay tuned for the Sixes.