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The Big Question: What's Your Life Purpose?

We’re all supposed to know our life purpose, right? It turns out that pinpointing what that is eludes many of us. If we knew it, perhaps we would have the key to life. For those of us still wondering what that is, just asking the question can point us in the right direction. Many don’t ask the question, but when we do, answers can then begin to emerge when we least expect it.

A friend came to me asking about her life purpose. She has three grown sons in their thirties and a loving husband. She heads a smooth-running household, has friends she gets together with often and meets regularly with a spiritual mentor. Something, however, was missing.

My favorite way to get answers to a question like this is to pull a few Tarot cards. She pulled seven, but three, in particular, stood out for me. This essay is the first of three in a series that looks at how the Tarot can be used to explore complex issues—in this case, finding one’s life purpose.

​We agreed to use a spread called “Blind Spot,” which seemed appropriate for the issue she was exploring, her life purpose. The Eight of Pentacles, the first card she pulled, was in the position called “My Blind Spot.” The man in the card is making pentacles, those yellow discs you see in the card. Pentacles represent things tangible and material like money, cars, houses, even relationships.

How Many of These Pentacles Do I Have to Make?

He’s doing a good job with six of them lined up in front of him like diplomas on a wall. He appears successful. Let’s look at some of the details in the picture that might shed a brighter light on my friend’s question.

Before we started the reading, she mentioned her family and her home are a large part of her daily life. The man in this card, however, is alone with no family in sight. He is busy working. He’s making pentacles, one pentacle right after another. Even though he’s pretty intent on doing the job and doesn’t seem unhappy, his work could be perceived as rote and monotonous. Does he have an option to create something different? Is this his choice to keep making pentacles? Certainly no one is looking over his shoulder telling him what to do.

Alone and Safe in Our Routine

His aloneness in the card might reflect my friend’s preference for being alone. The vital role she plays as mother and wife doesn’t preclude the pleasure she finds in being by herself. That’s an aspect to keep in mind when and if she decides to venture beyond the familiar to find her life purpose.

Sometimes we are so immersed in our own routine, we can’t see ourselves outside it. I remember a metaphor I heard long ago. A woman had to clean her fishbowl, so she filled her bathtub with water and put her fish in the tub temporarily while she cleaned the bowl. When she came back, the fish were swimming in a circle, the actual size of the bowl, when they had the whole tub to swim in.

Many of us stay in familiar situations because it’s safe, comfortable in its discomfort, and mostly risk-free. When we don’t quite know what to do next, we usually stay where we are and do the same thing we usually do. We keep our routine alive.

But I Want Something More!

The number eight in this card is worth noting. Eights represent mastery and accomplishments. It’s no surprise that my client is secure and confident in handling the needs of her family and the concerns of her household. She’s been married for 30-plus years. She has had the time and intention to master the responsibilities as wife and mother, but the unrest within her signals something more. Her quest for mastery is not yet complete.

In the Tarot, nine is the number of completion. It makes sense my friend picked the Eight of Pentacles when asking about her life purpose. Even though she has achieved mastery within her family and home, her search for mastery somewhere else is not over. With this first card, we can’t tell what endeavor that is, but we can deduce she may need to stop making pentacles or at least make fewer of them in order to engage in something new and outside her comfort zone.

Male versus Female

One last point: my friend is female, and the figure in the card is male. Typically males are doers, not that women aren’t, but the male prototype is all about getting things done. Males don’t usually consider emotions, something the female is known to excel at, when they have a job to do. Rather, they’re all about the nuts and bolts of getting the job done. The end result is their focus.

I wonder if my friend has sidelined her feelings about fulfilling her life purpose. Pentacles reflect the practical, hard-working side of us. How often do we sideline our feelings when it comes to issues that really matter? It’s easier to do the work at hand, which is usually tangible and finite rather than deal with the confusing, complex feelings entwined in the bigger issue. This may be the case with my friend. Perhaps we’ll get the answer when I share the subsequent blogs in this series.

In Short

The Eight of Pentacles reflects how my friend sees herself now—questioning the sameness of her routine, alone by choice and comfortable in her comfort zone. This is her blind spot. The warm and cozy cocoon of familiarity and mastery she has created for herself prevents her from seeing the different opportunities where her life purpose might flourish. She may need to drop the figurative pentacle she’s working on and head toward the village in the distance on the card to find that life purpose. If this holds relevance for you, is there a pentacle you need to drop?

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