The Eight of Pentacles is the first card of its suit to touch explicity on the spiritual realm, though it does so briefly and in certain circumstances only. Most of the time it refers to a time of hard work and dedication on the material realm, in the hopes of improving your work and yourself at the same time. Unlike the Three, which shows a rewarding and expressive career, the work shown on the Eight often goes without reward until the very end. But once that end is finally reached, the rewards are often unimaginable; they transcend the material realm.
In material affairs, this card shows the kind of dedication that is often necessary to achieve success. This is a wide umbrella covering many concepts such as attention to detail, persistence, concentration, and working for the sake of working. The Eight of Pentacles also implies a sense of material and financial security if we remain committed to the task. This committment does not have to remain limited to the material world, however. The Eight can be a sign of commitment and dedication to a relationship, or genuine interest in learning new skills. It is at this point that the spiritual meaning of the Eight becomes apparent.
Often the man on the Eight of Pentacles is pictured as an apprentice learning a new skill. Like the Hermit, he seeks knowledge, and sometimes this wisdom will be of the spiritual sort. The apprentice’s goal is practical experience rather than theory, however, because theory can only get you so far in the real world. Beyond that, you have to work through your problems with earned practical knowledge. This is the card of applied skill, intelligence devoted to a task. The Eight of Pentacles also governs learning through doing, and reflects the Confucian proverb:
I see and I forget
I hear and I remember
I do and I understand
When the Eight of Pentacles appears in reference to a project or a task you have been working on, redouble your efforts and your concentration, because rewards are near. What you are undertaking will be difficult, but it will give you a lot of valuable work experience and knowledge. Watch for someone more experienced that you who may be willing to gave you assistance; every apprentice needs a master to guide them towards greatness. Never take your eyes off the goal. If a job is once begun, never leave until it’s done. Be the labor great or small, do it well – or not at all.