I love, and struggle with this cards in equal amounts.
To me it represents “bliss” utterly lost in the moment, completely connected with what you are doing. I really get that part of the card- I am easily lost in cooking, writing, tarot, drumming….
It also represents self-disciplined learning of a skill. I struggle a little more with this. I am a flitter, a diver, a knight of wands dashing into life. I am less good at focusing on steadily learning a skill, diligence This side of the 8 of pentacles is often referred to as the apprentice card.
It can also represent obsession, being stuck in a rut, procrastination – and specifically obsessive compulsive disorder (or even hoarding). When I first got to know the cards on a deep and personal level I gazed at the cards, and spoke to them with my right brain. Trying to sense what they meant to me. When I chatted to the 8 of pentacles the first thing my right brain did was ask him to carve me a flower. 8 of pentacles face crumpled “but my pentacles are perfect he said” At its worse the 8 of pentacles can be the drive for perfection.
Lets look at some symbols from the Rider-Waite Card
The red tights & feet
As a shaman I work a lot with people who have a blocked root chakra. It’s as if their energy never fully reaches the ground. This guy is fully rooted- he sits on a low bench with his bright red legs and shoes.
I call this “mundane magic” when we are so lost in what we are doing we feel at one with ourselves and the moment. This is a form of spiritual bliss, but through practical experience not meditation.
The town receded into the distance
I also see this as complete focus the guy’s focus is on the task in hand, nothing else is intruding. I experience this when reading a good book, or tarot. I can blank out all sound, all distractions, and have total focus.
The bench appears to be the same bench as in the 3 of pentacles, and the two cards have similar connections with work, hard work creating something meaningful, lost in the joy of work & skill.
I love how the bench is simply made, low and serves its purpose not only as a seat but as a work bench.
The 8 of pentacles is about getting the job done, getting on with whatever tools & skills you have right now.
One Ace on the floor
I see this as a clear link to the ace of pentacles, and I see the ace of pentacles as stepping out of your comfort zone.
Here is the warning in the 8 of pentacles, do you have the confidence to adapt, change and move on. Will you know when your apprenticeship is finished, the skill is learnt?
Will this guy EVER carve anything other than a pentacle? The wooden post is full, and he has now started to scatter them on the floor. I get a real sense with this card that wonderful as all that rooted focus and lost in the moment is- you have to know when to move onto something new. Even if that makes you feel a little nervous.
At its worse the 8 of pentacles becomes stubborn & obstinate, focused only on what he can do well. Too afraid to try anything- even slightly- different.
Personally I don’t read reversals (looking at the cards upside down gives me a headache) I like to think of each card as a window. The window offers guidance, blessings & warnings. Sometimes all three in one card, often the cards around will make clear which is offered to you right now.
The focus is on hard work, learning a skill, building something step by step through diligence. This is likely to be about work, but could be about study or anything important to the querent (including health, weight loss, relationships etc)
Often get this for my tarot business- reminding me (alas) that it is a business so accounts, marketing, business strategy must not be overlooked.
You have the potential (or already are) to be very capable & successful in a skill or venture. The key lies on loosing yourself in the bliss of the process & the moment.
Not to worry about what could be, but focus on what you can do now.
This card really started cropping up for me when I started writing about Tarot, especially when I was writing my books. I was very hesitant about the process, but I soon found I really enjoyed it.
This is when you over focus on things that you really don’t need to, creating a sense of business (and exhaustion) with no real gain.
For me this is likely to be re-arranging furniture, checking face-book, or organizing things that really don’t need organizing (much more fun to re-arrange already stuff than actually tidy!)
I have seen this card represent so many things. From obsessive compulsive’s who spend hours and hours cleaning, dreaming of the things they intend to do. To perpetual students, flitting from subject to subject- avoiding ever having to make the next step.
With you tube, blogs & books full of endless “how to” this is particularly dangerous today, when we can easily fill a lifetime learning skills- and never actually do a thing.
I love to compare how different decks express the same card;
In the Dreaming Way Tarot we still have a dominant red in the clothing.
I love the real sense of focus, and how there is no background except his own work.
The cluttered floor with pentacles fallen and scattered reminds me of my desk (paper not pentacles). I like to think that is a sign of focus....
I love the Druid-Craft card. I imagine the heat from the furnace, and yet how focused he must be.
I love how one pentacle is separated from the others on the work bench, and bench is full of pentacles. He must take a break- if only to clear a space!
The Steam Punk tarot seems to pick up on the same slightly desperate feel that I perceive. The individual seems tired, and in need of a break.
I do like the work bench tough, with its seat. And how each pentacle is slightly differetn.