The first thing that popped in my head this morning with this spread is that the cage we put ourselves in whether it is because of expectations or fears is of our own making - by finding balance and peace in the now we will also find freedom.
The crow sits on a large pentacle where it can clearly see the world around it. The Ace of Pentacles brings fresh beginnings and the ability to manifest that what we can clearly see in our mind's eye. In the past position, the Ace of Pentacles sets us up with a life focused on material possessions - not something too uncommon here in the US, where children are bombarded every day with messages that it is through money that happiness exists, whether it is having the latest toy or gadget to where you live. I see it in my own child, who is eight and sadly has already started to assign her self-worth by comparing what she has to those around her, whether we realize it or not - we are taught to put ourselves and others in boxes.
Although the Ace of Pentacles entered our lives in the past, the agreements we made in regards to how we value material possessions remain with us today, even if we have outgrown some of the immature ideas we held as children, the seed is still there whether it is conscious on not - we fall back on those beliefs.
The crow of the Eight of Pentacles is wrapped in a red ribbon, and trapped in a cage of swords. If she would simply shake, the ribbon would fall and she would see that the cage of her mind was far more restrictive than the one before her as she could easily lift herself up and out. In the present position, the Eight of Swords suggests that you are a victim of your own beliefs or perceptions. A belief that is tied to the Ace of Pentacles.
Have you fallen prey to your own expectations and judgments? Perhaps there is a belief that a big house, new car, and the latest iphone is needed to be happy, yet there is an opportunity to do something you love, something you are passionate about - however, the salary is far less and because of that - the feeling that comes from the security of having the material possessions keeps you trapped in a job or life that does not fill your heart with joy. You may become blind to any opportunity that does not maintain your status quo and in a sense trapped by your own expectations of what happiness is - the expectations that were planted long ago.
With a calm, focused intention, the crow pours water from one cup into the other. Temperance brings balance and hope to any situation as there is a calmness of energy around this bird, despite any chaos or uncertainty that may be present.
With Temperance in the future position, this energy will loosen the ribbon of the Eight of Swords and allow you to gain a glimpse of the potential the world has to offer, not just the material possessions but all of it, the experiences, the love - you will have a feeling of wholeness as you find balance between the spiritual and physical realms. You will experience a shift, one that moves away from defining yourself by what you have, and in alignment with who you are.
The message I get here is not to give up all your possessions and become a monk, but rather move into a place of harmony - one where you enjoy all the things and experiences that money can buy, but you are not trapped by them.
Truly enjoy the world and all it has to offer - that is why we are here!
When we develop a calmness of spirit and a grateful heart, the value we place on material possessions becomes far less significant than the value we place on ourselves - and that is where we find true freedom.