The 8 of Pentacles

The 8 of Pentacles - Tarot Card from the Rider-Waite Deck

Representing urgency; the 8 of Pentacles represents the nature of humanity to overcome its obstacles only when the impetus is provided. The interconnection of our wealth and that of others is reinforced and the collective nature of economy in the form of a market force is underlined.

In the upright state the 8 of Pentacles prompts us to take action by increasing our focus, putting greater emphasis on the limit of time and what is realistically achievable within the time frames we have committed to. This could be a prompt to reconsider how long we had planned to wait before taking action and to consider what is gained or lost through that sacrifice of time.

In the inverted state the 8 of Pentacles represents a change in our planned time frame that does not originate in our own choice but in the choices of others. Here someone else or something else will move the goalposts and we will be expected to respond.

In the Rider-Waite deck the 8 of Pentacles is a rudimentary depiction of Quantitative Easing. At one point wealth was fixed and measured solely in material value, linked to a physical commodity such as gold. Over time this relationship was changed to reflect authority rather than commodity, when this occurred our currency changed from a fixed value to one defined by perception and power. This shift allowed for greater amounts of this currency to be issued when power and authority grew. This process is known as minting and it determines the amount of any given currency that can be physically produced.

When this amount does not meet the needs of the economy as a whole the value of the currency can be lowered in exchange for the ability to increase its amount. If you have 10 gold coins that will buy 10 pizzas but you need to increase the number of coins, then without the ability to increase the number of pizzas to match you must instead change how much pizza a coin will buy. By equating 1 coin to half a pizza instead of a whole you can mint 10 new coins. This gross simplification is the basic concept behind Quantitative Easing; in the Rider-Waite depiction a man sits minting coins with a Tower or Keep visible in the background, this building was the traditional home of the Treasury often attached to a church it was staffed by Monks on behalf of the Monarch.

6 golden Pentacles stand to the right representing the 6 of Pentacles echoing the need for movement and rebalancing, this is achieved by the devaluation of the currency, reducing the value of the stockpiles that have been horded. To the left two single pentacles one on the floor and one currently being worked upon represent an echoing of the Ace of Pentacles and the attempt to create a pair to restore balance.

In self-reflection the 8 of Pentacles serves as a prompt to consider the element of time and the pressures that are associated with it. The physical realm is subject to entropy, as such everything within it eventually breaks down. No matter how much we try to reinforce it, all things come and go in the end. Without being too sombre, everything governed by the domain of the Suit of Pentacles is fleeting, whether it last for a day and a night, or for a lifetime, when we eventually pass on, what we have achieved will die with us unless we make a conscious effort to create a lasting legacy.

We constantly interact with the physical world; at times we can be acutely aware that everything we interact with has a shelf-life, even those things that are not considered perishable still have a lifespan. Not limited to the organic and living, even machines have operational lifespans that represent how long they are expected to perform consistently. We can care for the car of our dreams for decades but the burden of maintaining it rises in time, there will come a day when a part breaks, which we can no longer replace.

Being aware of the lifespan of the things within our environment that we interact with can help us to plan ahead for the future. It’s important to remind ourselves that living in denial of that future won’t protect us from its consequences; so, it is worth taking the time to confront this reality as hard as that may be in the short term, our future selves will thank us for laying the foundations to prepare for all eventualities.

Consider your objectives, the things you would like to change or achieve, the things you don’t want to lose, and ask yourself “How much time do I have?” and give an answer in the context of the lifespan of the element in question and follow it up with the question “Is that timespan realistic?” and reflect on whether you can achieve what you set out to within that timeframe.

If you conclude that you cannot achieve your goal within that time, that can either be a queue to extend your deadline if possible, or to refine your goals to something that you can realistically achieve, or perhaps to consider whether you want to pursue your endeavours at all. These timeframes will not always be within our control, and their beginning and end might not even be known to us. It’s important to reflect on this transient nature and consider how you can make the most out of the journey not to defer all enjoyment until you reach your destination, as rather pointedly, you may never get there.

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