“Failure is simply a few errors in judgement repeated every day.” – Jim Rohn
Crowley’s Title: “Prudence”
Tree of Life: Hod through Earth
Astrology: Sun in the 1. decan of Virgo
Suit: Pentacles (Discs)
Shhh. Patience. The spider watches, her legs splayed on vibrating threads of her web as the wind blows half of her hard work away. She doesn’t react initially. She only sits there and watches, collects herself, and then begins again. Every time their web is destroyed, they must quickly rebuild and learn from their past mistake. The thing is, a spider can’t afford not to build a web. She can’t pay another spider to do the work for her. This is for her own survival. If she does not build and master her web, she doesn’t continue to eat and propagate her genetics. The spider dances with death. She must quickly analyse why her former web didn’t have what it took, and she must just as quickly take action to fix it. This card is about persistence, ingenuity, and down right doggedness. It requires predatory patience.
The first idea that came to mind when I saw this card was my relationship with rock climbing. When I began, I was fucking horrible. I tore open my hands, I got whip lash, I almost broke bones on countless occasions, I bruised my body over and over again, but I never gave up. It took months and months of me going back up that wall, facing my racing heart and thoughts, and working on various details one at a time – hammering them out – before I found the “flow” of rock climbing. Nothing is ever truly “mastered.” The work is never over (as indicated by the extra pentacle on the ground in the depiction of the card), but there comes a point in your relationship with a craft when you find your “flow,” so to speak. This card is about the methods you need to take in order to get to that point.
There have been many, many times in my life where I have had to step into the borders of this card. “Work, work, work, work, work,” as Rihanna says, or “You better work, bitch,” as Britney puts it, is the core of this energy. If you want it, you have to put in the work. If you need it, you have to put in the work. The earth was tempered, slowly, over time to become what it is today. And just like the earth, you need to temper something in order to get it to a higher form. You must temper metals to mold them, and you need time, patience, and a keen mind to build a sword out of a lump of metal.
A man sits on a bench, hammering away at pentacle after pentacle. Each pentacle has a slight variance but they are essentially following the same formula/archetype. His clothes are worn and his hair is not fixed because his attention is focused on his craft. In the distance we can see a town far away from our main figure. The pentacles ascend upward, like a ladder, reminding us that the energy of this card is active. The hammering into the pentacles reminds us that this card is also receptive. It is a constant act of receiving new information and performing the next action based on what one has learned. The pentacles the ground that the figure sits on are a bright, active yellow – an indication of Virgo’s Mercurial energy. The chisel in the figure’s other hand reminds us that the force of the hammer must be tempered by minuscule movements in order to perfect the shape of the product.
Aaaaah, insanity. That’s one of my first warnings about this card. This card can indicate obsession – be it the good kind or the fucking horrible kind. With our heads down and our nose to the grind, sometimes we miss out on the grand picture and get screwed over in the end. The stark grey sky and remote village in this card give us a warning that loneliness may result from this card. There is an over-reaching element – going out of your way to notice every possible perspective about a situation. Imagine an obsessed conspiracy theorist with newspaper clippings and red string all over his walls. When you see this guy in your reading, it is a good indication that cautiousness needs to be discussed. Even cautiousness about cautiousness!
This card is the pursuit of perfection. Stanley Kubrick was a lot like a spider. He dove into every technical aspect of his craft that he could, paying tremendous amounts of attention on every single detail of his work. Meticulous. There is that word again. Practice makes perfect, they say, and there is no other word a Virgo loves more than “Perfect.” The way to perfect is a dance with obsession. One cannot be a hobbyist in order to obtain the title of “master” in their craft. Most decks have it depicted as a hard working, blue collar sort of dude hammering away at pentacles, one after the other, like a solemn factory worker. A friend of mine informed me that people relate this card to the monks who created exact replicas of idols until they were ready to create an idol in their own style (which leads us to the 3 of Pentacles card). This card is the meticulous, hard worker who obsessively, whole bodied, goes into their craft. Whatever that may be.
I’m sure everyone knows this person: the guy that is constantly adding more and more to his work and never finishes anything. Yep, that’s the 8 of pentacles. So you either lose yourself too much in detail – missing the flow completely – or you lose sight of any detail – missing the flow completely. You need both the micro and the macro to understand (As Above, So Below). The thing is, you must pay just enough attention that you know when to stop paying attention and move on. Sounds difficult, right? Well, that’s the difference between a master and the apprentice; knowing when. The 8 of Pentacles is the student, the “grasshopper,” waxing on and waxing off, over and over again as Mr. Miyagi trolls them endlessly.
Bernie Sanders is another great depiction of this card. He has a homely look about him; disheveled hair and suit. He is so very concerned with his work that he doesn’t give a flying fuck how “professional” he may appear. This card shows us that you must sacrifice in order to get to where you need to be. You may need to give up the “extra” bits of life, the luxuries that take away your time from the work, in order to obtain this mastery that you seek. Perseverance is key to apprenticeship, and the integrity that Virgo is known for colors this 8 of Pentacles with commitment.
Here’s the thing about this card; half of the time you actually have no idea where you are going. You’re just working and hoping that something pops up. This card tells us that if we pay attention to the details of our work, a pattern will emerge and we will finally understand. The 8 of Pentacles is an encouragement to keep doing what you are doing because opportunity is going to emerge from it like fruit. If we are conscious, zen, and present with our work, we will become privy to a purpose behind each and every slight detail.