Eight of Pentacles
In the Eight of Pentacles, a man with hand tools sits on his workbench, working skillfully on a Pentacle before him. He has already completed his work on many other similar looking Pentacles and continues to churn out the copies. He is said to be an apprentice. It is clear by the man's careful attention to the details, that this card denotes a person who takes great pride and care in their work, who is hardworking and conscientious.
The eight, like the four denotes stability, but at a higher level. This card can be seen as depicting someone doing repetitious work, completing the same tasks over and over. The eight is also the infinity symbol turned on its side, and this would make sense, since the symbol has no beginning or end, and seems to flow around and through itself over and over. Although the work is repetitious, it is not thought to be boring or unfulfilling; it is more like a craft that is being perfected by being performed over and over, like the man creating the pentacles.
This is not the card of the skilled tradesman like we saw in the three, although this is a higher numbered card, this card is still about learning the skills to become the tradesman. The Golden Dawn Keyword for this card is Prudence, and is associated with Virgo, the sign of Prudence. The Merriam-Webster definition of prudence includes the term "skill and good judgment in the use of resources". The man in the card certainly appears to be exercising that. He appears to be content and satisfied with the work he is steadily producing. As with all cards associated with Virgo, be careful of the tendency towards perfectionism. Taking care and pride in your work is admirable, so long as you do not get so bogged down in making it "perfect" that you fail to continue to move forward and produce.
If you get this card in a reading about work or career, it can imply that while the work you are currently doing is not the most exciting, it is important to the long term success of your endeavor. This generally applies to the day to day activities you have to do to keep the ball rolling or the company running smoothly. You could be doing daily tasks, taking or filling orders, or even working on a production line or in a call center. It can be indicative of the little things you must do over and over, or maintenance, to keep the company running.
This card bodes well for any job that you do with your hands, or a specific trade, implying that you are perfecting your craft, so this card speaks directly to vocational programs. You could be working to learn a specific skill set that will serve you well, and one that you enjoy as well. It is possible that you are taking on something new entirely in an attempt to better yourself, or you are taking an existing trade to a new level of expertise. Practice makes perfect. Repetition is a key theme with this card.
Eight is an important number in business, in Feng Shui, it is a very auspicious number financially (denoting wealth and stability) and the number for business success. Many businesses in China aspire to have the number eight in their address, telephone number or other important identification numbers. The man in the 8 card looks satisfied. The implication here is in the old saying "if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life". Although the card may look boring and repetitious at first sight, it is really a card about finding your true calling, and being able to spend every day doing what you love, over and over. This is not just good for your pockets, but for your soul, as we all should aspire to do the most soulfully fulfilling work that we can.
Again as a pentacle card, there is always the work ethic aspect to be considered. This card talks about organization and commitment. When this card comes up it can be advising you to have a well-structured place to work and the commitment and follow through needed. Once you have a good place of work established, the advice is to simply start working. Even if you aren't sure what to do, just start doing something, when you start going through the motions, you get your brain wired for work and setup for success. Soon you'll find yourself with many ideas and things to do and will need to get your system in place so that you can streamline and start cranking out the work!
Eight of Pentacles Reversed
In the Eight of Pentacles reversed, the work becomes boring, unfulfilling and sloppy. You may feel that the work you are doing has become very repetitious, and offers no personal reward for your effort, you are just churning out the copy. You don't enjoy your work, and feel little desire to do it everyday.
It could be that you are not up to doing the job. It's possible that the job requires a skill set that you do not have, or one that you are not interested in pursuing. It could imply a lack of discipline or commitment either to the job, or to learning the skills necessary to complete the job.
You could be bouncing from one meaningless dead end job to another, or simply stuck in one that you feel is going nowhere, therefore your work ethic is suffering. You don't care if you take shortcuts, cut corners, waste company time, productivity or resources. You definitely don't feel your job is a labor of love and you are not giving it your all, you are simply there to punch the clock and collect your paycheck. This could also imply a time that you are out of work for one reason or another.
Due to its associations with both prudence and perfectionism, there is also the possibility that you have become very rigid in your way of doing things and are not adapting to the changes around you. In these high-changing times, you must be able to keep up with the ever-changing demands of the world around you.