Unlike with the Sevens, there is no ambiguity with the Eights, no question of whether what you're doing or choosing is the right thing. With the Sevens, the person is often stubbornly holding to their course, praying it's the right thing but not sure. With the Eights, there's no such doubt. The right course is clear. Doing what needs to be done might not be easy, but what needs to be done is sure.
This means that reversed Eights are often about cowardice, weakness, unwillingness or uncertainty, as compared to the upright.
Eight of Swords Reversed
The dreaded "trapped!" card. The bound woman, blindfolded and surrounded by swords. In this upright card, the querent feels isolated, banished and ostracized. Friends and enemies have had their say, and left her encircled her with their swords (representing words and ideas). She stands, bound and blindfolded by her own doubts. Yet her feet are not bound, and she can move, if she's willing to take possible cuts from the swords, she can even escape. But that will take a great deal of courage. Still, it is the only course open to her. Like with the scarlet letter, she has to be bold and unrepentant about her position, not cowed.
One would think that the opposite of this card would be a feeling of courage and freedom. But even if we turn it upside down, freeing the woman from the swords (that fall away), she is still bound and blindfolded and, upside-down, she's lost the use of her feet.
I'm a little uncertain myself about the meaning of this reversed card, but I suspect that my interpretation would be this:
Upright is like the girl/boy in high schools who did something unacceptable, and her group of friends tell her what they think of her and turn their back on her. She eats alone, miserable and doubting herself. The opinions of others keep her isolated, and her own opinion of herself keeps her where she is.
Reversed is the girl in high school eating alone because she imagines others don't like her (that she is surrounded by swords)...but this isn't true. She isolates and hobbles herself, but there is no censure from the outside, it's all her own doubts about herself, her own self-hatred and low-self-esteem. Other folk probably have no opinion about her, but she thinks they do, and these leave her unable to move.
Eight of Wands Reversed
Interpreting the Eight of Wands, by comparison, is relatively easy. Upright, the Eight of Wands is all about speedy movement ahead. Things fall into place and there is a fast climbing of the ladder as well as a burst of energy.
Block this, and we get sluggishness, lack of energy, slowness. This is both without and within - without, things take longer than they should, there are delays. Within, the person feels tired, unmotivated.
Eight of Cups Reversed
The Eight of Cups is also relatively easy. This is the follow your dream card, and in the upright, the person leaves what is comfortable and established to follow their dreams - however remote or improbable.
Reverse this and our dreamer walks away from his dreams to come home. Worse, as the cups are inverted, home isn't that comfortable. This is that terrible card where a querent who went out to make his own life surrenders that life to take care of his domineering parents. It's the husband who sells his dream business because the woman he married insists on it, and now he's working at something he hates, living in a home where there is no love. A very, very sad and painful card. The querent has given up his dearest dream as being impossible, and surrendered to a miserable reality.
Eight of Pentacles Reversed
The apprentice card is all about new jobs, learning a new craft, hard work and diligence. Although the person is low on the job totem pole, there is promise of new knowledge and promotions down the road.
Reverse this and we have both a blocked/opposite feeling: instead of being new, the job feels old. The work is tedious, and the person learns or gains nothing. If I got this card, I'd say that the person had been working at the same job - or the same low level of jobs for a long time. That they were overdue for a promotion, or that they weren't going to get that promotion that they deserved.
It's also quite clear that they hate their job and are not giving it their best effort, if they're giving it any effort at all.
Curious about this card when upright? Go to our Tarot Card Meanings.