Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
~ Thomas A. Edison
This week, we receive a reminder from the Eight of Pentacles that the more we focus and work hard at something, the luckier we get.
Pentacles are, of course, the Earth suit, dealing with living in the physical, material world. The Eights of the Tarot are often about getting organized, setting priorities, and moving forward (or not). So in the Pentacles suit, this is about focusing on work, success, and resources.
Here we see an artisan who is focused on his creations. Although he is completely lost in his task, we see the city in the far distance. Perhaps this is reminder that there is a larger world to which his products must have relevance, lest his work be an act of vanity or waste of time.
There is no indication whether he is self-employed, or working under the authority of a larger business. But in this moment, unsupervised, he works with good cheer, concentration, and a high level of productivity.
This is another of Tarot artist Pixie Smith’s “stage cards.” It’s tiny, but notice the double line behind the figure, hinting that the background may be theater scenery. What story is being played out for us?
Here we have the pure act of the creation itself. We see both the physical energy of the hammering, yet also the meticulous care reflected in the results.
This is really going off the rails of my usual Card of the Week writing, but I have a true confession that comes up when I see this card:
I am hooked on business makeover TV shows.
I used to adore Tabatha Coffey and her hair salon takeovers. And when she started branching out into other kinds of businesses, I positively swooned. (Alas, her shows were too short-lived.)
Nowadays, I can’t get my fill of all those wild restaurant and bar before-and-after shows. Something about how they all resonate with magical Cinderella fairy tales of transformation, but are applied to real life, nitty gritty situations just makes my entrepreneurial heart go pitter-pat!
Having clocked an embarrassing number of hours (weeks? years?) watching this stuff, several very clear themes repeatedly emerge.
One is accountability. It’s amazing how many excuses people can come up with, to explain their failures. Some favorites are family dysfunction, backstabbing friends, or being under the influence of some old personal drama.
We don’t know if the young man in the Eight of Pentacles has a chronic illness, or child custody troubles, or a feud with his in-laws. We see a man who is simply doing focused, consistent good work. And he does it without anyone standing over him. He is accountable first and foremost to himself.
“No excuses! No crybabies!” as the refrain from one of my favorites goes.
He has left his baggage at the door and instead, radiates the satisfaction of turning out a high-quality, reliable product. He proudly hangs his Pentacles up in the doorway for all to see.
Another is the issue of laziness. Over and over in these shows, for whatever reason, the business is being sabotaged and destroyed from someone’s sheer unwillingness to get up off their rear-end and pitch in.
Although many of my core values have shifted since I read it many years ago, I was impressed that in The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck, he distilled evil as the fruition of laziness.
Evil is laziness carried to its ultimate, extraordinary extreme. As I have defined it, love is the antithesis of laziness. Ordinary laziness is a passive failure to love.
Some ordinarily lazy people may not lift a finger to extend themselves unless they are compelled to do so. Their being is a manifestation of nonlove; still, they are not evil.
Truly evil people, on the other hand, actively rather than passively avoid extending themselves.
Over time, this failure to act and to care can result in a slide towards what Peck describes as the deliberate avoidance of “extending one’s self for the purpose of nurturing spiritual growth.”
That kind of damage certainly affects all of the Pentacle suit’s concerns – money, career, home, and health. But it is corrosive to our spirit, too. A state of nonlove, sooner or later, will contaminate your work life and your personal life, too.
Who Do You Work For?
If you are in a “soul-sucking” job where adequacy is as much effort as you can muster, if even that, you might want to take a good look at the implications for you over time.
Because no matter where or how you make your living, who signs your paycheck, or even if you are officially employed, you are always the most important manager of how and what you produce with your time, labor, and skill.
It doesn’t matter who is up the chain of command – the Chief Executive Officer that you ultimately report to is Source, and you can know how you’re doing by the memos you receive in your spirit. In fact, we are always the ones overseeing the quality and meaningfulness of our work.
Like the Eight of Pentacles, our job might not pay off in big status or vast riches. It doesn’t have to be the most soul-thrilling experience imaginable. We don’t even have to love the work itself. But it matters that we not hate it. Even more, it matters that we can love the act of giving the best of ourselves to our labor.
When we remember that our creativity and labor are our gifts to one another, and to the Beloved, we do not complain, cut corners, or pretend that mediocre work is better than it really is.
Do Good Work
This card invites us to seek mastery in the physical world, to cultivate and hone our skills, and enjoy the confidence and pleasure that come from labors well-done.
Are you considering a lateral move at your job, or a promotion to a new, more challenging level? Perhaps you are ready to change your career completely.
What new skills might enable you to be more productive and find joy in your labors?
This is wonderful guidance for creative folks who are talented in craftsmanship or in the arts. I often see this card come up for people who are restless in their successful but conventional careers, and who seek a life-changing shift to more creative or artistic endeavors.
If your job is satisfying and rewarding, be thankful, and continue to grow and learn. If not, who can you ask for honest feedback regarding your abilities and possible limitations? What new tools or practice can improve your results?
Remember that our labor is sacred. The guidance of this card is profoundly simple: Wherever you are, start there. Whatever you do, do good work.
Be in harmony with your integrity and the unique gifts only you can give to the world. For heaven knows, those are the very gifts we most need.