The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.
Riding the winds of change and power following Sunday’s New Moon and Solar eclipse, it’s time to buckle down to business. 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 is the suit of the Tarot ruled by the element of Earth. Its cards are concerned with how we live in the physical, material world. And 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 being efficient and effective with our work and our 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 a 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.
In addition, as was the case last week, this is one of Pixie Smith’s stage cards (where there is a horizontal line drawn between the foreground and background, hinting that the scene is on a theater stage). This may be a reference to the idea of playing to an audience.
There is no indication whether the craftsman 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.
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 does matter that we not hate it. Even more, it matters that we can love the act of giving the best of ourselves to that 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.
Your Right Livelihood
I like to think of this card as a pointer to what Buddhists call “right livelihood.”
Right livelihood is a component of the Noble Eightfold Path in Buddhism, a moral teaching that guides us to a life of mindfulness and enlightenment.
Right livelihood does not propose that your work always be the expression of your innermost self, or a constant romp of bliss or some idealized fantasy.
Instead, it acknowledges that both the work that we do, and the way that we do it, are vital components of our spiritual and personal development.
Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “To practice Right Livelihood (samyag ajiva), you have to find a way to earn your living without transgressing your ideals of love and compassion.”
We must be mindful of what we are doing, and how our work is interconnected, for good or ill, to all beings.
I believe the fact that we humans need to work honors, and does not deny, the sacredness of the physical reality of our lives. Our requirement for material sustenance is a gift, not an obstacle.
As long as it does not support violence, greed, destruction, or harm to others, our work becomes a teacher, a guide, and a support system in our journey to enlightenment.
Wherever you are in that journey, the chances are, you will still have to chop wood and carry water.
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.
We are invited this week to consider – how shall we make our work meaningful? How does our labor offer opportunities for opening wider to our spirituality and embodying loving kindness in the world?
Rewards come from the skillful blending of our talent, and the world’s needs. All the good intentions in the world come to nothing unless we show up, roll up our sleeves, and get on with it. This is where we walk the talk, and honor our values with hands-on commitment.
This card does not insist that our job be our identity, or that we do our work solely for love of the occupation. Instead, we bring our full presence to whatever we are doing. This says more than any speechifying or pontificating ever will.
Your labor is sacred, not particularly because of what it is, but because of the holiness of the soul who is engaged in it.