The 9 of swords and 8 of pentacles – an indication of work anxieties, Rider-Waite tarot deck
Contemplating my next tarot writing journey while eating a bowl of popcorn on my fainting couch, I decided I would pull some cards for next week to write about. In honor of the ingress of Virgo, I have concluded that it’s time to keep a tarot ritual – to apply my talents into a more tangible form (writing), to provide a service to the public, in the spirit of the sign. Jupiter has joined the Sun, adding bounty and magnifying the virtues/vices of what Virgo is about.
My first draw for this week is the 9 of swords and the 8 of pentacles (coincidentally ruled by the Sun in Virgo). These cards are both minor arcana, so they have direct links to our personal lives, just as the personal planets in astrology have a direct link to our day-to-day life.
At first glance, this combination seems easy: nervousness and anxiety around work. In the first card, a woman looks like she’s woken up from a nightmare, unable to sleep. She is plagued by troubling thoughts, symbolized by the swords and the intense facepalm game she has going on. Underneath her bed, two people engaged in a sword fight -perhaps she is struggling with others’ notions of how things should be which run counter to her own ideas. Hence the duel. I take it she’s the loser in this case (in her own mind); maybe she’s the winner, some people freak out over successes. Either way, anxiety afoot!
How does this nervous energy find an outlet? The cards seem to suggest an outlet by working on a craft indicated by the picture in the 8 of pentacles (again, a card ruled by the Sun in Virgo – the harvest, the fruits of ones labor). The very thing you’re worried about is the thing that needs to be faced. It need not be perfect, but when we fiddle with details, developing a routine/ritual in true Virgo fashion, you will find a space to tangibly explore or at least allay your fears. I always thought the red tights on the guy was a symbol for grounding our craft through the root chakra (which is red) – it is responsible for safety and security in the world. I don’t know, maybe they wore red tights back in the day in provincial towns. Probably a more entertaining thought.
The very ritual act of doing something, slowly working at something, is in and of itself a magical act. It will create a space for the universe to come in and enact a kind of divine grace, for when the time comes, your preparation will meet cosmic opportunity enabling you to carry forward with your dreams in tow.
As I write this, I am nervous. I just moved (AGAIN) from Rome to Brooklyn, and I worry that my work won’t be enough, that I won’t be valued, that I’ll never be good enough, etc etc, the endless thoughts that cycle around the mind when one is ready to make changes. Also, the current full moon has a way of pulling up energy just as the tides swell.
I’ve always thought of any labor of love I do as an endless opportunity for enrichment, probably because I spent more than half of my life as a classical musician, which spend their entire lives learning from private teachers – a sort of apprenticeship, 8 of pentacles style.
Tarot is one medium in which I never stop learning. I guess you could call me the consummate student, always willing and open to deepening my knowledge….because of this tendency, I always think my work is not enough, that I can always be better, do better. I often struggle to push through these insecurities, the eight of pentacles offering solace – just keep on keepin’ on, develop a ritual, start a hobby,
Detailed paper art by Carlos N. Molina
move the energy.
Anxiety, like any other feeling, is usually a passing thing. That’s been my experience anyway. I’m sure there’s a whole host of issues with anxiety I’m not addressing, however, the one that’s expressed in the cards deals with the fear and anxiety of not-being-able-to, of insurmountable opposition (that duel under the bed!). I’d be worried if the 9 of swords was paired with a Major Arcana card….oof!
I have a lot of friends who have a Virgo Moon. I typically find that most Virgo moon folk exercise (as in, go to the gym) ritualistically to burn off nervous energy. I’m not sure why I attract the whole lot of Virgo Moons…they have a way of moving energy with their physicality that I always marvel at. One of my old mentors had a Virgo Moon – she could never stay in one place with one job, she was prolific. She had several jobs, worked freelance, traveled frequently, the jobs somehow always flowing in as if by magic. Going to the gym for her was a daily practice akin to prayer.
Devotion – taken in Rome, Italy
So here I am doing SOMETHING in likeness to my Virgo moon friends. It’s not perfect, but nothing is (maybe Virgos would argue), so we might as well soldier on, slowly chiseling away with quiet or nervous faith that something beautiful will emerge. I’m reminded of a quote by Michelangelo that seems fitting, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set it free.”
May the ritual devotion to your own craft set YOU free.