8 of Pentacles and the Zen of Work: Chopping Wood and Carrying Water

There is something “zen” about working, toiling, and creating things here on the Earth plane. Anything that is worthwhile and beautiful takes, if not time and effort, at least skills that were earned over the months and years. A Zen saying goes, “Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.” No matter our level of spiritual and evolutionary growth, we wisely give our energy to our individual wood chopping and water carrying. We learn, we develop skills, we work, we seek to build something through our lives. We strive to create our legacy and leave the world a better place.

I am currently focusing on bringing a creation of mine, the Mojave Oracle, to completion. It has been a couple of years in the making. I am far from done, but I do have something to show for it. Looking back, I accumulated progress. One drawing here, one equipment purchase there, one new ink drawing skill here, one guidebook write up there… slowly but surely, the deck is taking shape. It is no wonder that the 8 of Pentacles showed up for me today.

The 8 in tarot is a number of movement, manifestation, and speed. Combined with the earthy energy of the Pentacles suit, the 8 of Pentacles speaks of ever-evolving learning and skilled work towards the accomplishments of our lives. More deeply, it refers to how our soul and our hands work together to build a legacy. Even though the world is a river of impermanence, we can certainly leave our mark, from the smallest gestures of kindness, to veritably solid creations and skills.

When the 8 of Pentacles rises up for you, you are being asked to take a look at your journey through the material plane, particularly as it refers to your current dreams and goals, and to the world-building your soul ultimately seeks to accomplish in this life. Your journeys may be short or life-long—we have so many of these parallel building ventures at any point in our existence. Depending on your circumstances, this card could be motivating you to push forward; or reminding you to hone your skills and bring your best self to the table; or simply calling on you to practice mindfulness and peace as you work and move through life.

What are you manifesting into existence? And how are you going about doing it? Does it feel aligned? Do you need to take a step back? Is it best to keep going, with perhaps new or more developed skills to propel you? Are you at peace regarding the mark you are imprinting upon the world? In any event, remember the perennial wisdom that says, “chop wood, carry water.”