As a reminder, the suit of Pentacles is driven by feminine energy and represents values related to stability, growth, and material aspects in the life of the Querent or subject of a reading. Scholars and academics have connected the suit of pentacles to the classical element of earth, and most of the cards from that suit embody the symbolic attributes of this element, one way or another.
Minor Arcana card: the Eight of Pentacles
The illustration of the eight of pentacles in the RWS tarot deck is a direct symbol of its divinatory meaning. The main character seems to be a young artisan with working-class clothes and curly hair currently at work on a large wooden bench. He uses a hammer and chisel to repetitively craft several identical items. The pentacles that symbolize this suit are the projection of these items on the card here as if they were door ornaments or fancy plates.
While some decks derived from the Rider-Waite have lost the artisan/craftsmanship aspect of the illustration, the repetitive aspect of the task being performed is usually a common denominator of most variations of this minor arcana card.
The positive elements of the Eight of Pentacles
In the suit of Pentacles, the first aspect that can be drawn from the presence of the eight of pentacles in a tarot reading is usually related to craftsmanship work of some kind. This is about an artisan at work, using their skills and trying to perfect them.
As a logical segue from this aspect, the eight of Pentacles also represents hard work and perseverance, the act of repeating an action over and over while getting increasingly better with that particular action until it becomes second nature. This steady increase in craftsmanship and skill towards perfection is the final aspect most commonly associated with the eight of pentacles in a divinatory tarot spread.
The negative elements of the Eight of Pentacles
When the eight of pentacles is reversed in a tarot spread or reading, the actual process illustrated by the card stays more or less the same, but the point of view and assessment of that process drastically changes.
The repetitive aspect of the work quickly becomes unbearable for the Querent, leading to a lot of frustration, and a lower personal commitment to perception or good work that will more often than not display shoddy workmanship and poor design quality.
On a more psychological point of view, a reversed eight of pentacles embodies sentiments of frustration and tediousness, usually as a mirror of someone’s growing suspicions and lack of concrete evidence.
Eight of Pentacles and love
As usual, the meaning of a minor arcana card from the suit of Pentacles is better suited to practical, financial, or professional readings and spreads than one based on love. There are nevertheless two main interpretations that can fit the appearance of the eight of pentacles in a love-based reading.
The first focuses on the drive to perfection mentioned above, that might transfer to the relationship of the Querent or subject, denoting how they will strive to better themselves and better their own communication skills to enhance their relationship or love interests. This is usually a pretty good sign, as true love is something that needs work in order to last in the long-term.
The second interpretation, especially when connected with other physical or “heated” cards like the Devil major arcana card, would be a series of short-term relationships or one-night-stands.
Final thoughts on the Eight of Pentacles
“If at first you don’t succeed, try again”. “Practice makes perfect”. These two expressions are the perfect illustrations for what the Eight of Pentacles represents in a reading. Skill mastery is something that is acquired through hard work and repetitive actions, but that will soon become second nature and get better and easier with every new iteration.
Likewise, the eight of Pentacles usually represents a quest for perfection and self-improvement, a desire to get better and better at something (or simply as a human being) and working diligently on it.
Skills, craftsmanship, perfectionism, repetitive actions, determination, focus.
Reversed: Frustration, workaholic behavior, poor craftsmanship, lack of commitment to the effort.