Reflections on The Eight of Pentacles

Q: What can I do today to make the world a more humane and gentle place?

A: This.

VIII

This is a card that signifies “rolling up our sleeves” as we dedicate ourselves to the pursuit of artistry and craftsmanship in all our material works, and of the sense of pride and purpose that meaningful work can bestow upon us. This can involve anything from participating in arts and crafts, to preparing a business proposal, to engaging in scholarly analysis and research, or even to pursuing regular exercise. Whatever form it may take, we do it for its own sake out of a spirit of gladness, knowing that as our work grows ever more perfected, we too as spiritual beings become perfected in kind. Like the metal-worker pictured here (who is rapidly running out of room to store his growing inventory!), we should undertake work, ideally, without excessive regard for material reward, as implied here by the metal-worker’s tattered vest; he may be a master craftsman—and his handiwork might (literally) be the “coin of the realm”—but material splendor is not a priority for him.

True, we all deserve to be paid fairly for our efforts in the workplace, but many of life’s most fulfilling endeavors—such as engaging in the kind of spiritual path-work that this blog advocates—pay very little  money at all. Even if money is involved, ascribing a “dollar value” to certain types of work—volunteer and charity work, for instance—runs the risk of devaluing the work’s true worth.

Another thing the card implies, however, is the need to spend some time alone to fully hone our craft, free from the distractions of the outside world. The prosperous city in the distance, and the many felicities that await behind its walls, can wait another day for our metal-worker. When we’ve got important work to do, we likewise should throw ourselves into it without reserve. Granted, we can overdo this—many people in our society do, alas—and become compulsive “workaholics,” an unhealthy manifestation of antisocial ego. But if we maintain a healthy balance in our lives—and the number “8” in its very form represents a perpetual and ever-flowing state of equilibrium between the “upper” and “lower” realms of consciousness—the work we perform can enhance our spiritual “balance sheet” as well as the material. To answer the question posed at the top of this post, we should view our work as a means to share the blessings we’ve been given with others—and if we can command a small fee for our efforts, so much the better!

Dante DiMatteo

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