Reflection on the Eight of Swords

Recently I’ve been having dreams that involve “choices”—of having to chose a direction at a fork in the road, of having to choose between two lovers, or having to declare loyalty to a friend or family member at the expense of another. In each case, I wake up before I can make up my mind and commit to a firm decision, which evinces feelings of frustration when I arise in the morning. Not good!

Now, these dreams have been occurring at the same time that I’ve been contemplating an open career position at a company with which I’m very familiar. I have many friends who work there, and I know and respect the company’s corporate culture. In a way, I’d be a perfect fit for the position—the job’s requirements are all square within my professional skill set, and I am held in high professional regard by a number of the company’s employees. Yet I’ve been hesitant to actually apply for the job. This is is because the company is relocating to a medium-sized city in the Deep South within a couple of years, and as I understand it, the company is asking new hires to commit to relocating. This has filled me with all sorts of ambivalence since, well, I love living in Los Angeles and am somewhat fearful of the “culture shock” I might experience from living in a Southern city. On the other hand, beggars can’t be choosers, as the saying goes, and I may not have the luxury of turning up my nose to prospective job offers for very much longer. Feeling agitated over this, I looked to the Tarot for some simple guidance today: “Should I stay away from this job, knowing that I won’t be happy in my new home, or should I just go ahead, apply for the job anyway, and put aside my fears and apprehensions?” After shuffling the deck and meditating a few minutes, I turned over the top card:

VIIII’ve said it many times before, but . . . it really is amazing how this Tarot stuff works, now, isn’t it?

This is the card—quite literally—of a person who we might describe as a “stick in the mud.” Bound (literally again) by a constricted view of the world, and refusing to embrace new ways of thinking, she has blinded herself (literally yet again!) to all the riches that life has to offer (the castle on the horizon). The swords are all buried—they cannot harm or constrain her, and there is nothing preventing her from leaving this desolate place but her own fears and suspicions of the unknown. There is, quite possibly, an ancient biological “impulse” of self-preservation at work here, that cautions us from going beyond the borders of an existence we know to be safe. But if we are to ever maximize our fullest potential as spiritual beings, we need to learn to transcend those impulses that would limit and restrict our development and our fulfillment. In the business world, we put it in terms of dollars and cents: “No risk, no reward.”

Needless to say, I recognized Mr. Stick-in-The-Mud right away—no need to even look in the mirror—and as you might have guessed by now, I went ahead and applied for the job. If anything good comes from this, dear reader, you will be the first to know. And who knows—I might actually like a change of address! But I’ll never know for certain if I’m not willing to give it a try.

Dante DiMatteo

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