All true work is sacred.
~ Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)
In this pivotal week of the American Election, the astronomical cross-quarter of Samhain, and the beginning of Mercury retrograde, we get another Eight this week. This one has now appeared three times this year, most recently in August.
Welcome, the Eight of Pentacles.
We have gotten quite a few Eights this year, including last week’s Eight of Wands, so it might be interesting to take a closer look at what that number represents.
Eight is the doubling of the number four, of course, which is about deep grounding and Earthy stability. So Eight embodies that structured-ness and organizing, but a higher level.
It is no accident that Eight is the symbol of the lemniscate, the representation of eternity. It deals with the cyclical nature of all things and the energetic flow that resolves the illusion of duality or conflict.
We see this in the ultimate Eight of the Tarot, the Strength card.
As I have mentioned here before, the twenty-two Major Arcana cards can be divided into three groupings of seven, with The Fool standing alone. In this Pythagorean-based magical system, the number seven is perfection and completion. The number Eight therefore is expansion, moving on, and the next step ahead.
In Buddhism, the Dharmachakra is one of the oldest known symbols, and is often an eight-spoked wheel. It represents the turning Wheel of Truth, or the Laws that uphold the natural order of rightness. The eight spokes of the Wheel refer to the Noble Eightfold Path.
Similarly, for many Earth spirituality practitioners, there are eight Sabbats, or sacred holidays, in the Wheel of the Year. It resonates, therefore, to see an Eight appear for both calendar Samhain last week (Oct. 31), as well as the astronomical date halfway date between Equinox and Solstice (Nov. 6-7, depending on your time zone). In both cases, they are the observation of the ending of the old and the welcoming of the New Year.
Speaking of endings and new beginnings, this week also sees the United States taking its next step forward. The end of the exhausting, rancorous election cycle concludes and for better or worse, a new chapter for America will begin.
Of course, if you know anything about Mercury retrograde, which begins precisely on Election Day, you know that taking the next step forward might not be straightforward, fast, or clear.
I love, though, that as usual, the Tarot shows us how to turn any challenges that lie before us into a gift.
Even with so much potential for change and confusion in this very dramatic week, the Tarot wisely grounds us with the reminder that “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”
Here we see an artisan, who is focused on his work. Although he seems completely lost in his task, we see the city in the far distance, so his dreams and visions are grounded in practical reality. If the Pentacles are about abundance and physical wealth, then he is literally making money.
Whatever our very uncertain future holds, from the long process of recovery in the Sandy-stricken areas, to the slow rebuilding of our global economies, to the healing of the philosophical and ideological ill-will that this election has stimulated, the way forward is to concentrate on the matters at hand. Take care of business; let’s get real.
In the wake of so many storms, we are invited to look at our own most immediate physical world, and roll up our sleeves. It’s time to organize and prioritize. One step at a time, we move forward.
With good cheer, commitment to giving our best, and steadfast endurance, progress will be made.
What would help you to be more productive and find joy in your labors? Pay close attention to the details this week (especially with the Mercury retrograde), and polish your best skills. What new tools or practice can improve your results?
Something has ended. Now, what is your most important next right action?
Our labor is sacred. In this week that will bring huge change, awakenings, and powerful new beginnings, the guidance is profoundly simple: Do good work.
We need all hands on deck — yours especially.