Comrade Femme Tarot: Eight of Pentacles

Each month I share a reflection on a tarot card in the service of self- and community-care, healing, and social and political transformation. I am still relatively new to tarot and nothing I post is meant to serve as an expert guide to the deck. Rather, I hope to illuminate, as I learn in public, the ways in which the tarot can act as a tool for healing, activism, movement building, and worldmaking. I am thankful for the teachers who have guided me in this embracing this modality and humbly recommend visiting more seasoned readers and intuitives to learn more (on tarot and/or related practices), including: Sara Gottesdiener, adrienne maree brown, The Firebrand Witch, Lindsay Mack, Dori Midnight, The Hoodwitch, Little Red Tarot, among many others!

I pull a card for September on the first morning that feels like fall is close enough to touch. The windows in the apartment are open and the breeze that whispers in encourages me to cloak my sleepy tank top and underwear ensemble with a sweater. The sky at 5:30am is still dark. I wrap the cardigan across my chest and sit cross-legged on the new faux fur rug I purchased with hesitation (it’s kind of the basic B home decor of the witch world) and also gusto (it’s really soft and really pretty!). I shuffle the cards. I shuffle again, and then once more.

What is the wisdom for September?

For the third month in a row, I pull a pentacles card. This time Eight of Pentacles. I almost draw again (will my readers be bored with pentacles?!) but change my mind because, actually, this card feels really right.

Dark Days Tarot.

Eight of Pentacles happens to be ruled by Virgo which is the season we’re in right now. Virgo energy manifests in this card as hard work, dedication, the devotion to a skill. I love this card in the Dark Days deck because there is nothing more apt than sewing to describe the process of digging into a practice. I’m actually not much of a sewer, but when I was young, my grandmother taught me how. We sat on the couch with clothing or cross-stitch patterns and she’d hold the thread by my mouth for me to wet the end. “It helps it get through the eye of the needle easier, presh,” she explained. After the thread was thought, we’d knot the end and slowly, with presence, we’d sew. It was an act of repetition that resulted in something entirely new than what we started with. Something that wasn’t there in one moment suddenly existed shortly after. It was, in the truest sense, magic. But it was also work. Repetition, concentration, commitment, all mixed with a vision, a trust, a knowing.

This blend of tedium and trust is, I think, the crux of the Eight of Pentacles. It invites us to dig deep into a skill, a practice, a trade. To practice patience and believe, steadfastly, that the skill we are honing is sure to pay off (because we understand, in the act of creating, it already has).

I pulled this card in a reading for a friend recently. She was thinking about taking a risk by veering from the field in which she just obtained a masters in order to secure a forthcoming position at an organization where she had previously been a volunteer. There were so many reasons, on paper, to warn against this but when we asked the deck what would result if she waited for this new position, the eight of pentacles appeared. Keep doing the thing that weaves the most magic for you, it seemed to be telling her. Hang tight. Good things are to come (good things are already here).

The Eight of Pentacles is the repetition of a sign-making party (I am in a living room in Chicago with a tarp on the floor, painting “No Blood For Oil” over and over and over again, in preparation for a march we’re hosting on campus tomorrow. The day of the march the signs create a sea of this demand and the power is palpable.) It is the determination of phone banking for a union drive (I am in a near-empty office the UAW rented out for our grad student union drive. I dial and dial and dial again: “I’m a grad student too. We’re organizing because the more our labor is valued, the better we can do our jobs as educators and as researchers.”) It is the sealing of envelope after envelope of holiday cards we send to our incarcerated comrades (In my dining room in Boston, we alternate between licking the bitter glue and using a wet paper towel to close the fold; we pass vegan cookies and sip spiked cocoa and hope this can bring just a little lightness to our friends’ days.) We keep going. And if we lose, we know that the stitches along the way still mattered.

This Virgo season, this third pentacles pull in the past three months, is inviting us to do the work and, at the same time, to look around and notice how much has already bloomed into fruition. Our intentions are unfolding in creation. Our dreams are being realized through our planting of seeds, and our mending of tears, and our mixing of spices. Our dreams our being realized through our meetings and our actions and our manifestos.

We are being asked to not give up, to not let fear take us away from the work we’ve done. Sometimes we want to walk away because success scares us even more than failure. Don’t let it frighten you, tender heart. You are ready for this. Keep writing. Keep stitching. Keep choosing the path that serves you best (maybe that’s sobriety, maybe that’s more sugar instead of less, maybe that’s sleeping more or sleeping less). Keep showing up to the actions, keep toppling statues, keep playing your songs. You are creating - you are becoming - something we need.

The universe is parched for your power. Quench it, sweet one.

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