8 of Pentacles – Mastery
At first glance, it is easy to see that the 8 of Pentacles is about work. A closer look, however, will reveal much more. A man sitting on a work bench in a torn vest is carefully etching the sign of the pentacle onto eight gold coins. He works in isolation; the town is far in the horizon, almost out of sight.
The tattered clothing shows that he is so absorbed in his work that he doesn’t even care about his appearance. The town in the distant horizon means that he works in isolation to avoid distraction. When these details are factored in, we see that this card is about diligence, dedication, effort and patience.
When this card shows up in a reading, it is time to fully apply ourselves in order to reach our full potential. At this stage, we are ready and eager to put in the time, energy and effort needed to succeed. We are engaging in work or creative projects of our own choosing and there is a desire not only to get things done, but to get them done well.
This is ultimately a card about self-improvement. We improve ourselves by honing down our skills and knowledge. We do so by practice and learning and the attitude with which we do these things is that of excitement. We have all experienced work and learning that we do because we are expected to. With the 8 of Pentacles, we want to. In fact, we are so eager to learn and improve that it doesn’t even feel like work!
If we’re not fully confident in our skills, this card also acts as an encouragement to keep practicing. If we’re wondering if our effort is paying off, this card will also act as a reassurance that we’re on the right track.
But we must be careful not to over extend ourselves. While hard work and dedication are admirable traits, anything taken to an extreme is dangerous. Do not work so hard as to avoid our social commitments and relationships. Do not be so fixated with perfection that we miss the bigger picture.
Hexagram 22 – Adornment
Mountain above Fire creates the hexagram of Adornment. To adorn an object or person is to add something external to enhance the subject’s innate beauty.
On the one hand, adornment is superficial. A building decorated with gilded furniture and marbled columns can have a rotten structure. A person made attractive with with fine clothes and jewelry can be cruel and selfish. We cannot judge the quality of a thing or person based solely on their external appearance.
On the other hand, adornment can be expressions of spirituality, refinement and love. We take time to make things beautiful because we care. Anyone who has ever been moved by a piece of art understands that beauty gives meaning. We worship with painted masks during tribal dances and golden chalices at the altar to express our awe and devotion.
Thus, when adorning, we need to understand that it has meaning and importance – but only up to a point. In the end, only inner beauty is ever lasting. Adornment is only useful when it helps reveal and enhance one’s innate truth and beauty.
Nine on line 1:
At the beginning of adornment, it is important to remember that the purpose of such an act is to enhance and strengthen our inner beauty and integrity. We adorn our feet so we can walk. Adornment is good when it does not take away the purpose of its subject.
Six on line 2:
Adornment for the sake of adornment. The I Ching makes no judgement of this act for it is neither good nor bad in of itself. Enhancing our appearance to feel more attractive is not the same thing as vanity. Every human being is both a soul and a body; it makes no sense to worship the soul and scorn the body.
Nine on line 3:
We take pleasure in adornment and this is fine. Just be sure that enjoyment does not go overboard to become indulgence. Always keep sight of what is essence and what is mere packaging.
Six on line 4:
Relying too much on external adornment can cause confusion as it masks the true beauty underneath. It can even have an adverse reaction by creating mistrust because too much adornment causes others to doubt the true value of an object or person.
Six on line 5:
Sometimes, we can feel insignificant if we are less adorned then others. During such times, we must remain confident in our natural strength and beauty. Remember, while adornment may be beneficial in first impressions, it is ultimately our true selves that win others over or lose their favours in the long run.
Nine on line 6:
The mature person does not rely on adornment at all. Those who are truly beautiful are not afraid to reveal their natural selves.
The best work is done with care.
Caring is a feeling and an attitude. If we care, we are emotionally invested in the outcome. Thus, we are likely to go about it with a positive attitude. We naturally want to give it our best and be at our best. It stirs within us the desire to improve, to grow, to beautify, to master and to achieve.
While very good work can be done with pure will and effort, genius and beauty are the results of the work of those who cared deeply.