Lessons from my cards: What the Eight of Pentacles is teaching me about work

eight of pentacles nomad tarot

Eight of Earth, from the Nomad Tarot

Work has been a big theme for me lately.

Redefining my own work, redesigning the way I structure my days, and most importantly, rethinking my relationship to my work are topics that have been on my mind and tongue more or less constantly.

I’m asking myself questions, like… Now that my business is portable, do I want to take it on the road? Now that things are mostly set up, do I still want to work full days? Do I want to keep developing my business, or just let it be what it is for a while?

What does ‘taking a break’ mean, and what is actually left of me if I’m not working? What do I truly love to do, besides work? How do I feel right now about the work that I do? And how do I want to feel about it? And you know, who actually am I, these days? How much does my work define who I am? Am I the things I share on this blog? Am I the heart and soul in my tarot readings? Am I a facilitator, a writer, a reader, a teacher, a coach, someone who is just whatever she is in the moment and who cares if that doesn’t have a name?

In the past three weeks, I’ve drawn the Eight of Pentacles three times.

At first, I felt I knew what it was saying: knuckle down and enjoy a period of hard graft. I was planning to write a new course while I was here, and the hardworking image of the Eight seemed to sum this up – this concentrated effort, this commitment to a task, to getting it done and doing it well.

eight of pentacles dreaming way

From the Dreaming Way Tarot

Yet, a week went by, then another. I didn’t make a start on my course. I simply didn’t want to. Something about it made me feel uneasy. I had it planned out in my head, I had plenty of material already written. Why couldn’t I begin?

The Eight of Pentacles again. This time I was drawn to the town in the background. The woman on the card suddenly seemed lonely. Where was her community, how would she relax? Would her work end when that last pentacles was made and hung, or would there be another eight, and another? Where were her friends, her lovers, her family? I looked at her posture and felt an ache in my back. I looked at her face and saw steadfast concentration.

The card felt like an expression of my own feelings right now. Head down, looking only at the pentacle in hand, I was aware (again) of how out-of-balance my life has become.

eight_of_pentacles_RWS (1)

From the Rider Waite Smith tarot

Balance is an interesting idea. I’m not sure I really believe in the concept of a truly ‘balanced life’ – with so many variables both within and beyond our control, how can any of us claim to live a balanced life? Sometimes we are warm, sometimes cold. Sometimes we are busy with one thing, sometimes with another. Sometimes life is dynamic, sometimes it’s chilled, sometimes it’s just really hard or sad or tough. But I do believe balance is something to aim for, and that’s a message I’ve been hearing over and over with increasing intensity, for months. I know I’m a woman of extremes. That’s not a thing I’m looking to change. But I’m realising that I at least need to vary those extremes a lot more than I currently do.

This morning, I drew the Eight of Pentacles again. This time, it was the pentacle on the ground that caught my eye. The final piece of work in this cycle. I am a champion of the joy of committed, hard work. I truly love it. My preferred way of working is to throw myself into things and do them till they’re done, to the exclusion of all else. I don’t think that in itself, this is inherently bad, but what’s gone wrong for me is that I don’t emerge from these periods with a feeling of completion and the willingness to change it up and do something completely different. I just kinda linger at the end there, at that eighth pentacle, looking for something to do to stretch it out or begin all over again. And that, I think, is where any hope of balance for an extremist like me goes down the drain.

The end of the year is nigh. New moon is on Friday. This is a time for reflection, redefinition, resolution.

In my head, I’ve been a stuck record for far too long, but (in the words of Lou Reed) I am beginning to see the light. Small revelations come daily, I can’t scribble fast enough in my notebook. I don’t know what 2016 is all about yet, but I’m starting to feel really good about it.

eight of pentacles theas tarot

From Thea’s Tarot

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  1. NOVA2BKNY says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on what tarot can suggest to us about work. I’m in the depths of studying for graduate school final exams that run up to the 22nd and then I fly home for the holidays on the 23rd. I’m juggling quite a few projects, and I’m fortunate to have a group of friends in similar situations where we can all support each other.

  2. SJ says:

    What I’m finding hard is compromising valuing who I am in a culture that values more what I can do. To what extent do I conform, and how do I continue having the tools of survival – food, shelter, medicine – without conforming. It’s tricky. Work vs. life is tricky.

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