Snow falls heavily outside of cathedral. Lit from within, the stained glass window shown in the upper half of the card is seen clearly. An ornamentation displays five pentacles and is accented with flowers and alternating colors. The luxury of the view is lost on two beggars struggling through the ankle-deep snow. A woman shuffles past the window in torn clothing and without shoes. She holds her rags as tight as she can against the snowfall. Behind her a man struggles with crutches and rag-bound feet. He is seen glancing up at the window but his opinion is not readily seen on his face. A bell hanging from his neck announces he is a leper to all that hear. The pair are excluded from the warmth within the edifice.
Tempting as it is to say the card condemns an uncaring church because of the image used, the meaning focuses more on the attitude of the two beggars. They are worried, and rightfully so. Where will they find shelter from the cold? Where will they find food? Who is there that can help them? Even the dogs have run off to their own safety. This constant and never satisfied worry is the core of this card. Even if the immediate needs are met, there is at once the worry of meeting tomorrow’s needs.
When the focus is turned away from the Querent’s internal life to her external world, the card becomes a harbinger of misfortune and decay. Not as destructive or world-shattering as the Tower, but significant enough to impact the Querent’s wallet and assets to a considerable degree. If in relation to business, there may be theft or sudden disaster. If in relation to love, the relationship will be intruded upon. (Not necessarily by another person. Work can be an adulterer as well.) There is the sense of not having prepared enough for blow.
Ill-dignified, whatever grace held the Querent standing after the strike has left her. Just as a drop of bacterial contamination ruins the stock, so did the initial misfortune shatter the Querent’s holdings. She is left without recourse or resources, and feeling shunned by her community lest what befell her spreads to others. Attempts to find order are rebuffed, and all there is left is useless shouting as the night falls. Depending on how the dignifying cards indicate, the misfortune may be a wild strike of lightning, or the outcome of the Querent’s own wastefulness.