All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This week that begins with the New Moon in Gemini, the Tarot offers us a frequent visitor. Even though for many of us, we’re heading into the school and work vacation season, let us welcome back the Eight of Pentacles.
The eights of the Tarot are often about getting organized and setting priorities. So in the Pentacles suit, this would address issues around work, money, and resources.
The artisan is at his workbench, hammering out a pentacle. He seems completely absorbed in his work, and in the distance is a city. Perhaps this is a reminder that there is a larger world to which his work must have relevance, lest it be an act of vanity or a waste of time.
This, then, honors the importance of the intersection between creativity and commerce.
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.
And my sharp-eyed regular readers will recognize that this is another of Tarot artist Pixie Smith’s “stage cards.” It’s tiny, but notice the double horizontal line behind the figure, hinting that the background may be theater scenery. What story is being played out for us?
More Than Means to an End
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 consistent results.
Rachel Pollack, beloved Tarot author and expert, offers an astute view of this card:
Work, whether physical, artistic, or spiritual (the Sufi Idries Shah speaks of ‘work’ as the most basic of Sufi doctrines), cannot succeed if the person thinks only of the end result.
Many artists and writers have testified to this fact, warning hopefuls that if they just want to become famous or rich, they will never succeed.
We have to care about the work itself.
This card indicates you may be seeking a new level of mastery in the physical world, skills that are well-honed, and the confidence and pleasure that come from labors well-done.
And what better timing for this message than the New Moon? This is a magical moment for seed-planting and wish-making with intention. But don’t expect your yearnings to be fulfilled without your participation. Instead, roll up your sleeves and get to it; concentrated effort can bring about very fruitful and satisfying results.
Made With Pride
In practical terms, perhaps you feel ready for a promotion, or a lateral move to a new, more challenging level. Or maybe you’re thinking of dusting off your resumé and changing your career completely.
This is also a good omen for those who are talented in craftsmanship or in the arts. I often see the Eight of Pentacles 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.
You may be finding things getting busy this week, and this card certainly reflects it. But anyone can be frenetically occupied. As Dr. King indicates, the standard by which we might want to gauge our work is whether it uplifts or helps people. If so, even if indirectly, then no matter how big or small the task itself, we are encouraged to perform with excellence.
If your occupation truly does not serve the greater good in some way, or even brings harm, then you must ask yourself why you are participating.
Gratifying work is something for which to be thankful, and if this is true for you, may you continue to grow and learn. The quality of our days depends on how we occupy ourselves, and time is the treasure that can never be replaced.
Not everyone can (or should!) expect to make their living from their deepest desires and passions. But no matter what you do, you are always free to add a dash or two of your own vision and creativity. Skills can be honed, and pleasure can be found in even the humblest activity, with the right attitude.
Pay close attention to the details this week, and get your workflow organized. Be honest about your abilities and your limitations, and if you need better tools or a more efficient work environment, be proactive in order make this happen.
Remember that your labor is sacred. Do good work, so that the life you sense you ought to be living is, in fact, the one you are.