Eight of Pentacles
(The Two of Pentacles card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)**
This month we are going to talk about the Eight of Pentacles. As always, here is a bit of basic foundational information about the Eights of the Tarot Minor Arcana, and in particular our Eight of Pentacles.
A Tarot deck has 78 cards. There are 22 Major Arcana cards, with numbers from 0 to 21; the Majors usually deal with broader and more far-reaching life experience issues, archetypes that are easy for us to identify with and connect with at some point in our lives. There are 56 Minor Arcana cards that are customarily grouped into four categories or suits that represent the four elements (sometimes called “Pips” or “Pip Cards”), with numbers from Ace to 10; the Minors usually deal with day-to-day issues.
The Eight of Pentacles is a part of the Minor Arcana. We already know that the easiest way to get a decent understanding of a Minor Arcana card is to examine its number, or in the case of Court Cards, its rank, and to examine its suit. In this case, we are dealing with the number 8, and the suit of Pentacles/Disks/Coins, and understanding these two categories of information will give us a good initial take on our card this month.
First, let’s look at the traditional image of the Eight of Pentacles. The image on this card usually shows a man dressed in a smock or other work clothes who is sitting on a bench, working on a Pentacle. Surrounding him are seven other Pentacles, already completed. In the background is a well-maintained walled city. The sky behind the man is light purple, or blue that gradually darkens toward the upper edge of the card. Some cards show the man sitting at a desk working by candlelight in front of a window that shows a darkening evening sky, or a sky lit with the purples, blues, oranges and pinks of a sunset. Others show the man working outside, with the doorway of a richly appointed building behind him. Some show the worker as a woman, surrounded by plants or in a kitchen or working at a table. In every image, the sense is of a skilled craftsman or woman working long hours and dedicated to his or her purpose, without being distracted by time passed or the outside world.
Let’s look at the number 8 next. I see the number 8 as telling me that I need to consciously act or choose the next step, and that I need to believe the next step I choose will bring some resolution. It is easier to understand the number 8 (which is about deliberately reacting) if we understand the number 7 (which is about the pause that occurs as growth slows and the beginning of degeneration approaches). The number 8 offers the concept of a remedy or a reaction to the pause and approaching degeneration of the 7, traditionally involving a choice of some kind, usually either to stick with what we have, or try for more. This means the energies of the number 8 can bring the opportunity to build, or to destroy. In the Tarot, the number 8 cards are kind of a kick in the pants, telling us we already have the skills we need to move forward, so move already. Just by looking at the number of our card, we already know that the Eight of Pentacles is going to be a card of action or manifestation.
The suit of Pentacles/Disks/Coins corresponds with the playing card suit of Diamonds, the cardinal direction of north, and the element of Earth. In its natural state, the element of Earth is cool and dry. Like Water, when amassed Earth has weight; it is able to bind together or shape the other elements. Water and Earth bind together to make mud, and a lake is shaped by the Earth that supports it. Earth energies are tangible, stable, and practical, and they are slow to change.
The cards of this suit are about the physical, earthly world, our physical bodies, and everything we need in order to maintain our earthly world and those physical bodies, including health and exercise. Pentacles cards talk about fertility, prosperity, and the wealth that can bring both physical shelter and mental and emotional pleasure. Pentacles cards can show a possible outcome or end result of our efforts, the product of our labors; they can give information about material manifestations of all kinds. These cards can represent discipline and diligence, and an interest in quality rather than quantity, but they can also indicate the influence of greed and avarice, and the lack of an ability to access or be aware of resources.
Like the other cards of the Tarot, the Eight of Pentacles has an astrological correspondence. The Eight of Pentacles represents our Sun when it is in the astrological sign Virgo.
The Sun is the star at the center of our solar system around which the planets revolve; it provides our Earth with the heat and light necessary for life as we know it. The Sun travels through the twelve signs of the zodiac in one year, spending about a month in each sign. The Sun is described as benign and favorable, and is usually thought to represent the conscious ego, the self and its expression, personal power, pride and authority, leadership qualities and the “life force.” In Chinese astrology, the Sun represents Yang, the active, assertive masculine life principle. In Indian astrology, the Sun is called Surya and represents the soul, ego, vitality, kingship, highly placed persons, government and the archetype of The Father.
The sign of Virgo, the Virgin, is the sixth sign in the zodiac. Those born under this sign have a strong sense of service, and feel most satisfied when helping others. They sometimes come off as cold or unemotional, but they are actually cautious, always sizing things up before acting. Virgos are meticulous, practical, intelligent, reliable, analytical and intelligent; of course, they are also over-critical, too conservative, and harsh. Virgos exist within the mind, appearing calm and collected on the outside, but lots going on inside. They are pure and honest, never malicious, and always trying to figure out how to improve things.
The Sun in astrology symbolizes the core essence of who you are, your individuality and sense of self, and what motivates you, and why. When the Sun arrives in Virgo, the focus is on getting down to business. Motivation now is more about practical concerns and outlets for skills, talents and abilities, with an emphasis on being useful. This combination of the Sun and Virgo can be expressed on both physical and intellectual levels, and it allows us to integrate personal resources in a way most effective for utilization. Planning and attention to detail make things happen, especially when there is something physical or tangible to focus on.
Minor Arcana cards also correspond with a sephira on the Tree of Life. The Eights correspond to the sephira (or sphere) of Hod. Hod (or Glory) is the eighth sephira on the Tree, the third on the Pillar of Form/Restriction, and represents science, teaching and the intellect. Hod corresponds with Mercury, the planet that receives the most light from our Sun, and working with Hod can stimulate the workings of the mind and provide illumination, but this kind of work presents dangers, too, especially if the process of shining light in the dark corners exposes any shadow issues. If you think about it, the Eights represent some kind of conscious use of the intellect rather than feelings or emotions, often in order to maintain control or harmony.
Let’s sum up what we have found. The number 8 tells of deliberate action or remediation or response to a slowdown that could be bringing some kind of discomfort. The suit of Pentacles tells of the physical, earthly world, our physical bodies, and everything we need in order to maintain them. The image on the card tells of a skilled craftsman working long hours with dedication, and without being distracted by time passed or the outside world. The Sun speaks of the individuality, sense of self and motivation, and Virgo tells of meticulous and cautious focus that plays the long game and encourages service to others. The sephira of Hod tells of the intellect and of knowing why something works.
The Eight of Pentacles in the Shadowscapes Tarot is awesome; the image on the card is of a spider and her dew-dusted web. She works hard, weaving her web through the night, carefully placing each strand to be most effective. Her work is almost like a dance as she spins, places the thread, gives it a twist and moves on, creating a pattern that is both beautiful and useful. This card tells of the craftsman who possesses great patience and who is attentive to details. It calls us to seek out knowledge, pursue a higher understanding, and become absorbed in a project that uses our hands and body and mind to create.
The Llewellyn Welsh Eight of Pentacles shows a skilled craftsman sitting on a bench under a tree, working on a Pentacle with seven completed Pentacles being displayed. There is a cat resting quietly at his feet and chirping birds in the tree above him but he is not distracted; instead he focuses intently on his task. This card is about employment, commissions, schedules and deadlines, creative work, and knowledge and experience. It is about skills and talents put to good use, and about finding one’s niche in life.
The Thoth Tarot Eight of Disks is called “Prudence,” and to Crowley it signifies “intelligence lovingly applied to material matters, especially those of the agriculturist, the artificer and the engineer.” The image on this card is of a tree with eight flowers, four on each side, and a substantial straight trunk that is well-rooted in the ground. This version of the Eight of Disks is somewhat more passive than most; after all, prudence and its wait and see attitude isn’t active at all. This card can be about being penny wise and pound foolish, being over-careful in small things at great expense, and about a gain of ready money in small sums, as well as hoarding, lack of enterprise, or the cultivation of land.
The Neo Tarot Eight of Pentacles shows a person with long hair in a single braid streaming behind her, leaning over a stairway with one foot a step higher than the other, balancing a container on one palm and reaching up to paint a surface several stairs above her with the other hand. There are four Pentacles lined up horizontally above her and four below her. The card tells us that we have big dreams and a lot of promise, and if we work hard and pay attention to detail, we will get the return of a fruitful end result. We may not be receiving the recognition we want right now, but we should still keep our head down and perfect what we are doing, for this is a long game. We are told that it is okay to feel frustrated at the slow pace, but once we have produced something we should allow ourselves to celebrate our accomplishment.
The Eight of Coins from the Gateway to the Divine Tarot shows a mature man studying blueprints for Coins in a comfortable room next to a well-lit window, with green drapes pulled aside to allow the light into the room. Above him hangs finished Coins decorated with sacred geometry, and before him on the table are more blueprints, two blank Coins, and several tools. This card tells of competence, diligence and the ability to get a lot done by focusing on one task at a time and giving each task the care and attention it deserves. Perseverance is the key, and learning, practicing, and finally mastering the skill is the reward. We are reminded that practice makes perfect, and that there is both pleasure and profit to be had from honest hard work.
The Eight of Pentacles is about progress mixed with education. This card is not about instant success, but rather it tells of patiently learning skills that will eventually bring profit. The Eight of Pentacles warns us that we will need to work hard now in order to reap rewards in the future. The work may be repetitive and unrewarding, but it lends itself to the strength of a habit or a belief. The Eight of Pentacles encourages us to learn while we can because what we learn now may very well be of great use to us tomorrow. After all, in order to become a master, we must first be accepted as an apprentice.
About the Author:
Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher. Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.