As a child, teenager, or even young adult, you have most likely run into the dreaded pile of paperwork know as “home work”. This mountain of reading assignments, formal papers, and written exercises have plagued the young for many years now, and the pile only seems to be growing higher with each year. All of us have, at some point, glared down this pile of paperwork into submission. How? Simply by doing it. There was no way around it – one way or another, the work needed to get done, and eventually it simply did... through hours and hours of work. This work is the type of work noted by the Eight of Pentacles.
On this card we see a young man wearing the clothes of a smith, including the quintessential black apron. He is hard at work, banging away at a pentacle he has recently finished. All along a tall pole we see the pentacles he has already finished – each one is a dazzling display of beauty, forged with great craftsmanship. He only has the pentacle in his hands and the one on the ground left to finish, and then he is done with his project.
The Eight of Pentacles is all about putting your nose to the grindstone. It's about work – not easy work, not particularly daunting work, but the kind of work that you simply have to drudge through until it's finished. This doesn't refer to your favorite type of project, but it usually refers to something within the scope of your field – a stepping stone that you need to follow through on in order to reach higher ground. The advice this card gives is simple – do the work. Don't fuss, don't moan, don't plan... just do the work.
This card also speaks of honing a skill that you possess. Just like the young man here, you have to start off with the small projects before you can head on to the big ones. Work through the small-time jobs now, knowing that they are just another successful project that can go on your resume of great work!
Lastly, know that the Eight of Pentacles is saying you should make sure to dot yours “i”'s and cross your “t”s. Don't skimp on this work simply because it's tedious or mind-numbing: make sure it accurately reflects your skills, your determination, and your willpower. Everyone who can help you on your path to greatness will look at the work you've already done as an indicator of how your future work will look. You don't want to show off a shoddy example, so put some extra elbow grease into this project.
Ask yourself these questions when you see the Eight of Pentacles. What work in my life seems like it is tedious, going slowly, or is work that I have yet to begin? What do you gain from letting the work go undone? Are you putting all your effort into this project, or are you skimping?
Two cards that pair well with the Eight of Pentacles are as follows: the Nine of Wands and the Three of Pentacles. The Three of Pentacles is an obvious match for the hard work in the Eight of Pentacles – both cards have to do with physically manifesting work, though each refers to a difference stage (namely the planning in the Three and the actual work in the Eight). The Nine of Wands talks about perseverance... something you'll need a lot of to finish the work referred to in the Eight of Pentacles!