An Interpretation of the 8 of Pentacles

The 8 of Pentacles by Renata Lechner, The Millennium Thoth Tarot

The 8 of Pentacles: Interpretation by Marv Machura

     The imagery on the 8 of Pentacles is dominated by a tough, well-rooted, green plant growing by itself in a flat, arid, desert-like landscape. There are eight, vibrant, red blossoms on this plant arranged in near-perfect symmetry, four on each side of the intriguing, twisting main stock of the plant.

     Green is the colour of life, renewal, and peace. Green is often described as a favorite colour due to its association with feelings of wellness, satisfaction, and contentment. This happiness is reinforced by the symmetry of the plant since symmetry also gives us these same feelings. Thus, a central meaning of this card is harmony, rest, and gratification.

     The best kind of rest and contentment come after periods of activity and exertion. And as a rule, the harder or the more robust the exertion, the sweeter the respite and fulfilment. These feelings are doubly amplified when we can clearly see the fruits or results of our work and activity. This is what we see in this card. The blossoming plant symbolically represents the goodness, repose, and gladness coming to our life after a time of sustained and strenuous effort and labour.

     Importantly, this coming virtuousness is largely the result of our well-directed, stubborn determination. We can see that it was not easy for this strong, healthy, blossoming plant to grow by examining the environment and ground of the card’s imagery. This arid and seemingly lifeless landscape represents the difficulties that we have overcome. The figure in the image (the plant) represents a contrast to this aridity that is as bold as it is beautiful. The size and positioning of the plant all help to create these pronounced feelings of triumph, strength, and certitude.

      The thick base and expansive roots of the plant represent the long, vital period of persistent growth that has been necessary to bring this plant to its current, wonderful blossoming state. The roots are firmly in place, and we can feel the strength that results from this well‑founded connection with the earth.

      This imagery also reminds us to stay humble and grateful. Our efforts are never guaranteed to succeed. There are always elements of metaphysics, magic, and chance at play in all of our achievements and victories (as is the case with our tragedies and failures).

     Although we have participated meaningfully as may be seen and felt in the roots of this plant, the beautiful blossoms remain as wonders of the force of creation that we can barely comprehend. They are as lucky as lining up 8 stars in a slot machine. With this requisite, humble, and abundant gratitude (as opposed to pride, arrogance, and self‑entitlement), we gain so much more, as always, than is possible without this central aspect of thankfulness in our lives.

     The above principle can be, in part, recalled in the wise, old saying: stay grounded. The artist has composed this image so that our gaze will always fall toward this wondrous contact point between the plant and the ground, thus reinforcing these sagacious words.

     The golden-orange background warms the scene with gentleness and kindness. Orange is the colour of independence and pride in oneself. With the supplementary golden hues, the colour of worth and value, the scene painted is a panorama of nearly boundless potential. And this bounty is there for us, in spite of the dangers.

     The dangers are represented by the tough, unhospitable landscape. But they are also represented by the 8 red blossoms. Although this is not very likely, the blossoms have a potential to charm us into the immobility of intemperance as in an extended and too‑long holiday. We avoid this negative stasis by seeking the horizon. It goes to infinity with a rising or setting sun. Therefore, the message for us is to stay grounded, stay humble, stay thankful—and carry on with our good habits, attitudes, and hope.

     There is nothing wrong with celebration as long as it does not lead to what the American Football League (NFL) calls “excessive celebration.”  Since 2017, excessive celebration can give your team a 15‑yard penalty in the game. So, enjoy your success, but stay grounded, and stay committed to the contest. There is, after all, plenty of time still on the game clock.

     Each red flower blossom has five pedals, thus creating the pentagram shape. With these red flowers as pentacles, they carry all the goodness and blessings of the five‑pointed star. This is the protective and magical power that protects us from curses and hard‑luck. Be assured that the Universe is pleased with our effort and achievement and is handing out charms to protect and encourage us forward.

     The symbol for the Sun appears on the top center of the card. This is appropriate since all biological life is sustained with the power of the Sun. Appropriately, we revere the Sun. Its positioning on the card shows how we all look up to the Sun, both literally and metaphorically. This symbol carries meanings of not only life, energy, and growth but also of confidence, clarity, and purpose.

     On the bottom center of the card is the symbol for Virgo. Virgo is an earth sign, and thus, it fits with this card’s earthly meanings of material wellness, reward, and harvest. Virgo is linked to both the goddess of justice and the goddess of agriculture (Dike and Persephone, respectively, in Greek mythology). Both of these meanings can be given to this card in the sense that hard work is justly rewarded with a plentiful yield.

     The number 8 is the number of abundance as well as reassurance. It is an uplifting number, supporting us to continue forward with confidence and strength. With effort and sustained hope, our dreams can come true. But even more importantly, with effort and sustained hope, work and employment become more of their own reward, as indeed they should be.

     The number 8 is not a number of drudgery or slavery. It is a freeing and powerful number that says we are in control, on the right path, and just rewards, continued growth, and elemental goodness are on the way. Contrary to popular belief that the highest goal of life is to reach a stage of ease and contentment as endless vacation days in the sun, this is not true. Rather, we need to be engaged with life and not disengaged from it. We can see this paradox with some famous musicians, like Paul McCartney, who although fabulously rich and at an advanced age, continues to tour, promote, record, and involve himself in his career.

     To be disengaged from life in an endless holiday would not be the fairly‑tale perfect life for any of us. Rather, it would be a type of hedonistic hell from which we would likely want to escape after a period of time. Indeed, we often see this in the lives of the privileged classes, or the idle rich, with their falls into the destructive hands of addiction whether that be to drugs, alcohol, sex, or anything else that is accessed as a means of escape from this Hotel California paradise.

     In the end, this card is primarily an affirmation of good habits, strong spirit, and a solid connection with the earth. Sure, there are many blessings to be enjoyed and celebrated, but these are of the best kinds of rewards: the kind of rewards that we, ourselves, have had a hand in creating.

     Ultimately, our lives are on a step not to that endless hell of holiday, but rather our lives are on a step to the joy of achievement, wisdom, and reflection. Soon enough, the enduring rhythm of struggle, growth, rest, and reward will restart. And if we continue as we are, this course of cycles will keep getting not only easier but also better!