Energy is the essence of life. Every day you decide how you’re going to use it by knowing what you want and what it takes to reach that goal, and by maintaining focus.
After a great deal of meditation, prayer, and discussion with my Guides, particularly following last week’s rare visit from the World card, I have decided to change up how I present my Card of the Week. I realize I may have attempted this before, but this week’s appearance of the Eight of Pentacles has made it final.
A frequent visitor here, his timing is auspicious, as many of us prepare to greet the new school year (or that of our kids, who may still be at home, and looking to us as their teacher’s helper). And while mid-August still throbs with the heat of dog days and Summer, Lughnasadh is now past, and Mabon is less than six weeks away.
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).
Here we see the apprentice or journeyman absorbed by his craft. One by one, with steady regularity, he is producing an accumulation of success and real-world value. This is the dead opposite of scattered multi-tasking and loose ends.
Although he is completely engrossed in this work, in the far distance is the city, reminding him that there is a larger world to which his products must have relevance, lest they be an act of vanity or a waste of time.
As has been mentioned before, we can also see that this is one of Pamela Colman Smith’s “stage cards,” in which there is a (tiny) horizontal line drawn between the foreground and background, hinting that the scene is on a theater stage. How is it that he may be playing to an audience? What story is he telling for our benefit?
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’s the Boss, Applesauce?
If we are lucky enough to still have jobs, this is a time when we want to be protecting them, staying focused, flexible, and producing good work, for we are navigating precarious times that threaten our security in so many ways.
But 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 talent.
It doesn’t matter who is up the chain of command – the Chief Executive Officer that you ultimately report to is your Divine One(s), and you can know how you’re doing by the memos you receive in your spirit. In fact, we are always in this sacred collaboration that oversees 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.
This idea is so important, that it is a fundamental 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.
And for those of us who are stuck at home, or out of work, or retired?
Life does not stop, and energy is, as Oprah notes, the essence of life. So how do we share the gifts we are capable of, that come from our inspiration, our time, and our activities?
Vegging out in a hypnotic trance before a screen with shadow people and shadow words is no substitute for actual being and doing. This week’s visit from the Eight of Pentacles seems to make it clear that it’s time to set aside all that mental noise and busy-ness, and get our hands and hearts back into the real, physical (Pentacles) world.
One mixed blessing of the pandemic is that it has shoved our own mortality into our faces in ways that cannot be prettied up or ignored. There are a finite number of heartbeats in any given life. We do not know how long or short our days will be.
In answer, the Eight of Pentacles invites us to use our true talents to their fullest, and receive the rewards that come from each day’s work well done.
Which is why, after great deliberation, procrastination, and hesitation, I finally must admit I need to dramatically reduce the time and energy I lavish on my Card of the Week, and indeed, to some extent, the Tarot itself.
Every single Monday, since June 2003, even during vacations, travels, and the depths of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation, I have pulled a card and posted an essay.
But for a while now, I have felt increasingly called to turn my energies elsewhere. This is due, in part, to the fact that these posts never take me less than four or five hours to write.
I considered taking a complete sabbatical, but I want to continue to be of service in the ways I am able. After all, this is (in part) what I came here, into this lifetime, to do. But, other work has awakened for me, and my life’s mission as a full-time writer is tugging on my sleeve.
So that is why you are seeing less availability for appointments. And this is why, with the one-two combo of this week’s and last week’s cards, I am officially cutting back my (often ridiculously!) long COTW missives each week.
I am turning my own Eight of Pentacles inspiration and dedication to new projects that I expect will take a very long time to hammer out. But my heart overflows with the joy of my work.
And I knew you would understand.
Blessings to all.