When someone is good at something, and I mean REALLY good, it looks like the thing they are good at is effortless. When someone is so good at something that the thing they do is intrinsically a part of who they are, it seems impossible that they were ever not good at whatever that thing is. When we experience the output of someone at that level we often disregard the many hours of work it took to gain that level of mastery. “They must just have talent” we say. “I could do that too, if only I had the talent.”
The funny thing is: it is actually about talent, it’s just that talent isn’t what most people think it is. Talent isn’t some innate ability bestowed at birth. Talent is the unrelenting drive to do something that is so acute you keep working at it even when you absolutely suck. Talent is the feeling that you can’t not do something. Talent is the joy that comes from doing something just because you want to do it.
In the VIII of Pentacles we get a glimpse into that driving desire when it is most visible (and when no one else sees it). It’s the long hours spent at a computer writing really bad code. It’s doing scales on the piano until your fingers cramp. It’s going to the gym every morning at 6:00AM sharp. It’s all the stuff you do when no one is looking that hones your craft. It’s the unglamorous work.
The first decan of Virgo (major: The Hermit) is ruled by the Sun.
I absolutely love this sequence. The Sun on the left is that driving inner force that pushes the craftsman forward, while the Hermit on the right is holding the light of that desire and guiding the craftsman to continue, even though those are some damn rough looking pentacles. It really looks like the Hermit is looking at the craftsman and about to speak.
“Not bad, not bad. You can do better. Once more.”
The VIII of Pentacles from the Animal Totem tarot (fucking terrible name but really great deck) also captures this perfectly. When you see one of those mountain goats way up on a cliff face it looks like they just teleported in. It seems impossible that an animal that big could climb a cliff face that sheer, yet they do. They climb up the cliff face one unglamorous step at a time.