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Knight of Disks: The Industrious, Cautious Entrepreneur and Father
The Knight of Disks. The King of Swords in the Rider-Waite tradition. This card represents the personality that arises from the Fiery aspect of Earth; the active, bold, and creative personality of the practical and down-to-earth person. This is the card representing the personality that will lead that person to great Gain and eventual Wealth, using Power to create great Works. This is the outspoken, stubborn individual concerned with succeeding in the world. In the traditional “breadwinning” family, this card represents the breadwinner and Father Figure, who provides for his family and sustains it.
This person, then, has experienced great Material Success, and has much Wealth. They did not inherit it all; they are not spoiled heirs or heiresses. They earned it through their Industrious behavior and their Competence. They are Capable and Enduring; they won’t give up until they have succeeded. They are the fire that never goes out, and the landslide that does not stop until it has reached its destination. They are dedicated to Laboring for gain, and are sometimes overly (or at least extremely) Materialistic. They can be very Patient; these are the people who can work there way up to great wealth from nothing through hard work and never-ending patience. They do not rise up quickly, but they do rise; they prefer Slow Growth to a meteoric rise, arriving unobtrusively at the site of power. They can sometimes be of Low Intellect, knowing only how to make gains; they may be exceedingly Narrow-Minded or only able to do things by the book. They Look Ahead and Consolidate Their Gains as they move forward, as they are very Cautious. They have Little Initiative and prefer to take the tried-and-true path to gain as opposed to taking risks. However, if the risk is not too extreme and promises great gains, they are often willing to take that chance, for no man who earned his own fortune got there without taking any risks; it’s a matter of taking carefully calculated risks.
The Rider-Waite art shows a man sitting on a throne surrounded by impenetrable stone and lots of green plant life, his robe colored with images of green leaves. He has gotten to where he is through slow growth, like the mighty tree, saving up a little every day. He owns a large castle seen in the background, and is calm and secure in himself and his future. He is the younger version of the man we saw in the Ten of Disks: Wealth. The Thoth art shows a man on a still horse, looking off ahead into the distance, pausing to rest and plan his path carefully. While he looks one way, his horse looks the other way, keeping them both safe, emphasizing caution. His weapon is a club; he uses brute force to get his way, as opposed to trickery or more subtle plays, like a sword would require.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the roles that people with personality may play in your life. Do you know anyone who works hard, plans out their every move carefully, and only takes carefully-calculated risks? Reversed, this personality is hidden or twisted somehow; maybe a friend’s showy acts of courage are not quite as courageous as they appear, or their gains are not achieved through hard work and industry – or maybe their hard work has not yet been rewarded.
Wealth: Material Success, Establishment, and Restlessness
The Ten of Disks. Wealth. Material Success. Performance. Establishment. Restlessness. Jealousy. Permanence. Greed. Boredom. Dissatisfcation. Having it All. The Futility of Having it All. The Ten of Disks corresponds to the Sefirot of Malkuth: Reality, the Root, the Sum, and the Origin. The Ten of Disks represents what happens when the energy of practicality and the material world interacts with… reality and the material world. As such, as these two ideas are harmonious with each other, the Ten of Disks is more positive than the other three Tens (Oppression, Satiety, and Ruin). The Ten of Disks represents what happens when someone filled with practical wisdom, prudence, power, and the ability to work with others and to shift and change with the times lives and interacts with reality. This card represents the final culmination of the Suit of Disks when applied to reality, and it results in Wealth for the exemplar of Disks. They have Performed their roles well and been rewarded for it; even if their heart isn’t in their Performance. They have had great Material Success, and have been able to Establish themselves and their descendants as important. In this sense, the idea of Malkuth as being about rebirth becomes apparent as well; passing on one’s wealth to one’s children starts the cycle of material gain again, keeping the energy of Disks alive.
This card, then, represents Having it All, but also represents the negative consequences of it as well. You may have everything, but others may be Resentful of it, or Jealous. You may not be able to stop your desire to accumulate things, and may become Greedy or perhaps Restless and Dissatisfied; you have had Material Success, yes, but what about spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and purposeful fulfillment? In this way, this card also represents the Futility of Having it All; this card serves as a reminder that there is more to the world than the material.
The Rider-Waite art shows an old man, with two of his descendants before him, hinting at ideas of Permanence and Establishment; his line will live on. He lives in great luxury, wears fancy clothes, and even has two dogs attending to him. He has succeeded in life. Yet at the same time, he isn’t really doing anything – he had it all, so he has nothing left to do. He is Bored. The Thoth art shows ten Disks arranged in the shape of the Tree of Life, representing completion. As the last numbered card of the final Suit, this card has a special meaning with regards to the Sefirot, as finishing the cycle – and starting it again. Behind these ten bright coins/Disks is a pile of other coins, representing having lots of wealth.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role of Material Gain in your life; have you or anyone near you experienced it? Do you consider yourself wealthy? Do you have everything you wanted (materially), and yet still feel dissatisfied? Do you feel as if you’re performing a role you don’t really feel in order to obtain material wealth? Does your heart lie somewhere else? Reversed, this card’s energies are blocked or twisted somehow; is your wealth inaccessible? In areas you wouldn’t normally look? Are you wealthy and satisfied?
Gain: Discipline, Refinement, and Receiving the Fruits of One’s Labor
The Nine of Disks. Gain. Refinement. Self-reliance. Discipline. Getting Things. Receiving the Fruits of Your Labor. The Nine of Disks corresponds to the Sefirot of Yesod: Crystallization and the Essence of Being. This card’s energy represents the best the Suit of Disks has to offer, and is the resolution of the two weaknesses of the Suit of Disks. This card represents the recovery from Failure by using the appropriate amount of Prudence (not too much). Once one uses Prudence to make up for their faults as seen in Failure, they will begin to Gain. While Prudence represents the labor that goes into making something happen, Gain represents to the Fruits of That Labor, and the act of enjoying and Receiving them. With regards to the Suit of Disks’ Crystallized Essence of Being, this card represents one’s essence of they adhere to the ideals of the Suit of Disks; they are Disciplined and Self-reliant; they can make their own way in the world. This person is also Refined and civilized, as s/he knows how to succeed in the world and Gain from it. This card represents the energies associated with succeeding in the world, and the good things that come from it; this card is the sum total of the Suit of Disks, and represents the best the suit has to offer.
The Rider-Waite art shows a successful young woman, dressed nicely and in a well-maintained garden, with a hawk on one arm. Grapes are growing behind her. She has been productive, and has tamed her inner ferocity (as represented by the hawk). Her garden and serene pose are all symbols of her discipline, and she stand by herself, indicating her self-reliance. The Thoth art shows nine disks arranged on a colorful background of greens, yellows, blues, and browns. The colors all radiate out from the central three Disks, indicating a burst of growth that one can harvest and cash in on, as indicated by the other Six Disks on the periphery.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role of receiving the rewards of hard work in your life, and suggests that you look at your degree of self-reliance, discipline, and refinement. Are you able to stand on your own? Do others consider you polite or civilized? Do you belong to the elite cadres of society? Have you been working hard to receive your rewards? Reversed, this card’s energies are blocked, hidden, or twisted somehow; is one’s outward civility masking a deeper bestiality? Have they gained from the labors of others? Are they trying to be self-reliant but failing?
Prudence: Attention to Detail, Caution, and Hard Work
The Eight of Disks. Prudence. Detail. Diligence. Micromanagement. Hard Work. Thrift. Putting a Little Aside. Beginnings of Advancement. Caution. Too much Caution. Being Miserly or Stringy With Resources. Practical Wisdom. The Eight of Disks corresponds to the Sefirot of Hod; Knowledge, Structure, and the Intellectual Weakness of the energy of the Suit. It is the reaction to the degenerate, more emotional weakness of Netzach. When one sees the corruption and lack of success and prosperity, the immediate reaction is to immediately watch what you do more carefully, exercising Caution and Thrift. One will manage their resources better, and Work Hard and be Diligent. They will micromanage everything and pay attention to Detail. They will then Begin to Recover and Advance, and Put a Little Bit Aside. This card represents the logical reaction to Failure: Prudence.
In addition to the Intellectual reaction, this card represents the Intellectual Weakness. This card can also then mean too much prudence; being Stringy with money, not willing to give, having Too Much Caution, and losing yourself in the details and Micromanagement. It can represent the beginnings of success, but only when not taken to extremes.
The Rider-Waite art shows a man working diligently on a series of coins; he is focused and paying attention to the detail of the coins, ignoring even his frayed clothing (hinting at the idea of focusing too much on your task). The Thoth art shows a tree growing strong, with eight Disks as flowers on branches. It looks big and strong, but the branches are somewhat twisted and the sky behind it shows the light of a harsh sun. Despite the heat and drought, the plant will flourish; but this card then also has a slightly ominous tone, and warns that the world is not fair.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role that prudence, thrift, caution, and careful use of resources play in your life. It could advise you to consider being thrifty, or warn that you are being miserly and not generous enough. Are you paying too much attention to details? Have you been working hard? Reversed, this card’s energies are hidden or twisted somehow; is your hard work helping you progress or is it just busywork? Are your gifts to others cheap and miserly? Is your hard work and diligence paying off?
Failure: Self-loathing, Corruption, and Loss
The Seven of Disks. Failure. Losing. Being Spoiled. Trickery. Corruption. Theft. Self-loathing. Disappointment. Loss of Work. Not Succeeding. Frustration. The Seven of Disks corresponds to the Sefirot of Netzach; Bliss and the Degenerate Weakness of the Suit of Disks. This card then represents what happens materially when one gives into degenerativity, and that is Failure. When one who has power and wealth – as one who has been successful in the area of Disks has – gives in to degenerate weakness, he becomes Corrupt. One who is successful materially is Spoiled. This card represents what comes after Success if one stops working, and that is Not Succeeding. One might Lose the Work that they strove so hard to accomplish before, it having been Stolen from them. Things might not come to you as they once did, leading to Frustration and Disappointment.
This card, in addition to representing the corruption one often devolves into after Success, also can be seen as the full representation of the second half of the implied dichotomy of the Six of Disks. This card allows you to examine the flipside of Success – Failure – in full, showing the reader the lower – and many would say greater – part of inequality. In this sense, this card also represents Losing, Self-loathing and Disappointment at not being able to succeed, unable to get to where you want to be due to Corruption or Trickery, and Frustration at your Hard Work Failing Accomplish what you desire. The Seven of Disks, then, has two meanings: the failure one has when they can no longer sustain their success, and the failure one has when they never were able to achieve success.
The Rider-Waite art does not at all reflect this meaning of the card, showing a man leaning on a staff and surveying the fruits of his labor. This card in the Rider-Waite tradition merely illustrates the aspect of the Six of Pentacles pertaining to success through hard work. The Thoth art shows seven disks – representing coins and wealth – lying forgotten on a field of black feathers – probably those of the raven, the harbringer of bad news.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role of failure in your life or the situation. Did you do all you could to succeed? Did you make a poor decision and lose all you had? Do you beat yourself up for not doing as well as you would like? Reversed, this card’s energies are blocked, hidden, or twisted somehow; perhaps your apparent success is not what it seems to be, or perhaps your failure is undeserved.
Success: Hard-Won Possession of Resources, Knowledge, and Respect
The Six of Disks. Success. Power. Wealth. Resources. Knowledge. Respect. Reward After Work. Inequality. Quiet Triumph. Reassessment. The Six of Disks corresponds to the Sefirot of Tiphareth; the Conscious Harmony of the suit of Disks and the element of Experience. Tiphareth represents the central balance of the Suit, being located at the center of the Tree of Life. This card, then represents the harmonious nature of the Suit of Disks, and that which is achieved through experience, taking both of the meanings of the Sefirot literally (as is in the spirit of Disks). When one with experience goes out into the world to live their life, what do they often manage to do? Achieve Success. This card represents what one might possess after achieving material and practical success; Wealth, Power, Resources, and Respect. It represents also the idea of receiving a Reward After Hard Work. It encompasses many of the previous themes of the Suit of Disks, and represents what one can expect if one works with the element of Earth under the guiding light of Kether. This card represents also a sort of Quiet Triumph; success can certainly be considered a triumph, but is rarely celebrated like a military victory would be. The kind of triumph this card represents is the more common form of triumph in the real world; that of living comfortably after hard work.
On a slightly darker note, this card also represents Inequality. Not everyone succeeds; many fail. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction; for everyone who succeeds, there is someone who fails. In many cases, in our hypercapitalist world, success is achieved at the expense of another. It is important to keep this thought in mind; while this card indicates worldy (not heavenly or spiritually, mind) success, it also points out the existence of the next card in the Suit; Failure. It points out that a dichotomy does exist, and advises us to be wary of it.
The Rider-Waite art best illustrates the concept of inequality; a wealthy man (with the appearance of a merchant, who worked for his wealth) stands above two less fortunate men who are kneeling, giving each of them gold, while also carrying a scale; the wealthy and successful man has obtained material resources and power over those who have been less successful in life’s endeavors. The presence of the two poor men also directly points out the inequality inherent in life, and the existence of the complement of Success. The Thoth art shows Six Disks arranged in a stable hexagonal pattern surrounding a flower blooming (plants grow only after hard work in caring for them) at the center of a cross (representing dedication and sacrifice to get to where you are). These six Disks, in turn, rest upon six larger, more stable Disks, indicating a degree of stability and a sense of power. The idea of Success is also here directly, as there are in fact twelve Disks on this card, rather than six.
In a reading, this card suggests that you examine the role of success, respect, justly earned reward, power, knowledge, and wealth in your life. It asks you to look at your life and think about why you have been successful (or not successful). It advises you to work hard to obtain your reward; lounging around won’t get you anywhere. Are you respected? Do you have any power? Knowledge? Reversed, this card’s energies are twisted, blocked, or hidden somehow. This card could indicate that you need to Reassess your current life-path or situation, or stop and consider if you are where you want to be. When reversed, this card also can emphasize the nature of inequality, and bring your attention to the idea of failure in terms of the opposite of success.
Worry: Instability, Despair, and Helplessness
The Five of Disks. Worry. Rejection. Hard Times. Ill Health. Instability. Strain. Inaction. Helplessness. Despair. The Five of Disks corresponds to the Sefirot of Gebyuah: Motion that upsets the balance. Geburah as a Sefirot represents instability, and the Suit of Disks at its best represents stability. As such, the Five of Disks is the unstable aspect of stability; essentially, it represents the effects of one’s stability being taken away from them. It is the energy associated with being thrown out of the Fortress of the Four of Disks; a physical movement with dire consequences. Without the protection and defense of Power, one is Helpless; they have fallen on Hard Times and may be suffering from some form of Ill Health. After being Rejected by the Fortress, your life becomes Unstable, and a lot of Strain is put on your life. You may be paralyzed by Inaction. This card, essentially, represents one’s life without any support and stability; this is the card of the lame beggar.
Indeed, the Rider-Waite art depicts a lame man and old woman out in the snow, outside the lighted windows of the Church; they have been Rejected and are clearly suffering from Ill Health and Hard Times. The Thoth illustration shows five large, heavy, dark Disks bound together by strings in the shape of an inverted pentacle, indicating Instability, which is the primary emphasis of this card. The arrangement of Disks seems to be precariously dangling over a pool of lava, giving a sense of constant danger and therefore Strain.
In a reading, the Five of Disks asks you to examine the roles that helplessness, rejection, and rough times may have in your life. Have you been down on your luck lately? Felt powerless? Were rejected by friends or family? Given in to a sense of despair? Reversed, this card’s energies are blocked, hidden, or twisted somehow; maybe you are not as helpless as you appear, or your powerful position masks the inability to make choices (such as Londo Mollari’s comment in Babylon 5: “And now I have all the power I could ever want and no choices at all”).
Power: Control, Impenetrability, and Stubborness
The Four of Disks. Power. Authority. Law. Order. Defense. Stubborness. Impenetrability. Blocked Change. Immobility. Display of Strength. Control. Possessiveness. The Four of Disks corresponds to the Sefirot of Chesed: Growth, condensation, stability, and matter. The Four of Disks is the spot where the energy of the Suit of Disks – having been given birth to in Binah – condenses and materializes into its first recognizable form – that of Power. The Works of Three have finally been created, and the result of this potential was the Four of Disks. This card represents what most people think of as “Earth” – Stubborness, Impenetrability, Defense, and Immobility. This card is extremely Solid, and is a good basis for Authority; it is extremely Ordered and can also represent the inflexible rule of the Law. This card also represents the Visible Strength of the Earth, and its inability to give in or yield. This card’s stable nature is reinforced by its association with the Sefirot corresponding to Stability; this card is the stable part of Earth, which is quite sturdy, immovable, and powerful indeed.
The Rider-Waite art shows a man standing in the way of the reader, blocking them. He also has his hands around one of the disks, holding it possessively. He stands atop two more disks, and doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere soon. The Thoth art shows a fortress made of four square disks, with high walls and only one entrance. It is very well-defended, and is a symbol and visual Display of Strength, as well as an Impenetrable fortress and definitely an Immobile and Immovable object. It will stand its ground no matter what.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role that stubborness, immobility, inflexibility, resistance to change, displays of strength, and ideas of possession and control play in your life. Have you been stubborn lately? Felt as if you were in control? Felt a need to show others how powerful you were? Reversed, this card’s energies are blocked or twisted somehow; the displays of strength might just be a facade, or perhaps you are not as immobile as you would believe yourself to be. Maybe, though, you have inner reserves to allow you to hold your ground that you didn’t know were there before.
The Three of Disks. Constructivity. Building. Designing. Planning. Accomplishment. Competence. Teamwork. Cooperation. The Three of Disks corresponds to the Sefirot of Binah; understanding, the birthing ground, and the plane. The Three of Disks is where the energy of the Suit begins to come into itself and realize some of its potential; it is where the groundwork for the subsequent numbered cards in the suit, and provides a base for them to build off of. In the case of Disks, this card is Works; it represents great accomplishments finished through Teamwork and Cooperation, as well as Competent Planning and Design, resulting in something being Built. This card represents the practical wisdom of working together with others, reflecting the duality seen in the Sefirot of Binah, and the subsequent material benefits of this action.
The Rider-Waite art shows three men in discussion, one of whom is holding what appears to be some sort of blueprint or plan. They stand beneath ornate architecture, emphasizing this card’s emphasis on Teamwork and Building. The Thoth art shows an aerial view of a pyramid amidst the desert sands; one of the greatest collaborative works ever achieved.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role that working with others to achieve a common goal has played in your life. Are you part of a team? Have you been working together well? Have you planned things out to accomplish your task? Reversed, this card’s energies are twisted or blocked somehow; perhaps your team is not as competent as you would have liked, or you need to rethink your plan.