4 of Pentacles

A man bearing a short squat crown sits hunched on a block of stone facing the viewer directly. The richness of his fur cloak and robes gives the impression he is a wealthy man of some power. His arms encircle a large pentagram and holds it close to his bosom. His posture implies if he could envelop the pentagram with the entirety of his body, he would. However, under each foot is a large pentagram and he is pressing his feet against them securely. Mounted on his crown is a fourth pentagram. He is visibly held by that which he would hold tightly. Behind him, in the near distance, are the multitudes of buildings and towers that can be found in a thriving Medieval city. He alone is in the foreground, further giving the intimation that what he holds separates him from daily life.

The difference between a stronghold and a stranglehold is who is in control of the position. If the connecting cards indicate the Querent is in control, then this is card indicates a stronghold from which the Querent is well situated to act independently. However, if the connecting cards indicate the Querent is not in control, then the situation has seized the Querent, placing her in a vassal’s position and unable to act without approval of who, or what, is actually in control. Dignities determine how this card is perceived.

As a stronghold, the Querent is placed in a strategically positive position in regards to the query. External influences fail to move the Querent against her will, and when she acts, there is less resistance to her directed force. The Querent does run the risk of being too confident in this position if it is held for too long, and not taking the proper steps to maintain the stronghold or to further entrench her position. This can turn the stronghold into a self-made prison over time.

As a stranglehold, the Querent is at the mercy of other things or situations around him. However, from his point of view, he still thinks he is in complete control and can quit the situation or controlling thing “at any time”. Here are the hues of addiction and hoarding, not just of material things, but of relationships, titles, lackeys, and public attention. As a stranglehold, there is nothing positive to infer. There is only the tightening grip of the Querent’s situation, and the increasing intensity of the Querent’s justification to continue the damaging position.