I recall going to the ocean when I was young, and swimming out into the sea along with hundreds of others. One young boy, close to my age, started yelling and waving his arms – he was drowning, and quite far out into the deep ocean. The lifeguard acted quickly, swimming out and throwing the boy a flotation device, and then dragging him in. The boy was no worse for the wear – a little shaken up, but no physical harm was done. The one thing I remember, however, was that he would not let go of the flotation device the lifeguard had given him, even after he was out of the water. He even went to walk away with it, and the lifeguard had to chase him down to retrieve it. This clinging was for comfort... and it's what the Four of Pentacles is all about.
In this card we see a massive city on the horizon – towers and houses with red roofs riddle the landscape, creating a beautiful background. In the foreground we see a man in a crown closely hugging a pentacle coin to his chest. His crown also has a pentacle a top of it, and the man is stepping on two more coins. He seems to be pinning them in place – even the pentacle on his crown is fixed there.
The Four of Pentacles can also be a sign that you or someone close to you is clinging to something desperately. This could be a physical possession, another person, a house, and idea... anything goes, though it's more likely to be something tied to the physical realm. Unfortunately, most clingy relationships tend to be born out of desperation for comfort and solace. Address this concern, and ask why this clinging is happening.
This card can also signal a need to maintain control. Sometimes, when things get hectic, we get desperate for some form of control. Perhaps it's because we feel we don't have any other control over the things that happen to us in our lives. This need to control may stem from other fears – like the boy with the flotation device, we try to take charge of our own fate by maintaining control over at least one factor of our lives.
Lastly, the Four of Pentacles can represent a halting of forward movement. The man on the card isn't going anywhere – he's got himself in a sturdy seat, feet planted firmly on top of his pentacles. He is happy where he is, thank you very much (whether he really is happy or not, this is what he would say). What it all boils down to is that the man is afraid of moving forward – afraid that he'll lose what he has in hopes of gaining more. While he makes a valid point, there is one even more valid – there is no point in living without forward movement. We are not alive to be comfortable, we are alive to live... and that can't happen unless we take risks.
Here are some things to ask yourself when you see this card in your readings. Are you clinging to anything in particular? Why? What would happen if you let go? Are you resisting forward movement? Are you desperate to maintain control over your situation? What are you afraid would happen if you lose that control? Can you safely address these concerns, and slowly let go of what you've been afraid to release?
There are many cards that share the Four of Pentacles blocked movement, but two in particular are the Two of Swords and the Four of Cups. The Two of Swords may be the closest card to the Four of Pentacles in the tarot deck – both say they are unwilling to give up what they already have, and unwilling to accept anything new. The man in the Four of Cups refuses to see the cup presented to him, just as the man in the Four of Pentacles refuses to see that more pentacles may be waiting for him to find... if only he would get up from his seat!