The Eight of Pentacles is all about mastering your craft, often about work, but really anything related to the material, such as financial matters or health. So when this card reverses it can signify that something is amiss in this area. When the two of swords comes up with it, this can indicate that it is time to consider and decide what to do about it, perhaps before a decision is made for you.
It could be that this person is working at a job or trade that you’re just not that into and this is showing up in the quality of their work. Or maybe they’re just not the kind of person who cares all that much about what they are producing. Maybe they don’t care about the work at all and it’s all about the end result—the money, the house(s), the car, etc.
On the other hand, maybe they are in a position they were once inspired by, but have become burnt out or disenchanted with the work over time. In any of these cases case, the Two of Swords might be advising them to consider whether they should be doing something else, or at least find a way to motivate themselves. They might be in denial about this and they might have got away with it up ’til now, but that won’t last forever, and it won’t lead to any lasting success.
The Eight of Pentacles reversed can sometimes indicate a creative block or a lack of focus. That person might be going through a slump and the inspiration isn’t flowing. Sometimes people get into the habit of being busy and having to trudge on regardless—the job has to be finished, the art work delivered, the score arranged by the deadline. In that case, the Two of Swords could be advising them to take a step back and reflect on what it is they are trying to accomplish, then consider if there is a better way to go about it. It’s time to listen to that quiet voice within instead of drowning it out with the ever-turning grindstone.
If someone is having trouble finding work, the Two of Swords could be indicating that they are at a crossroads where maybe they need to choose a different direction. It could be that they need to retrain or acquire additional skills or qualifications because their chosen field has moved on with the times. Having worked in the technology sector for quite some time, I can tell you that this is a never-ending process. It could be that their line of work is becoming obsolete, and they need to find a new area to pursue.
The Eight of Pentacles can sometimes shine a light on someone having unrealized talents and abilities. “I’d like to (write a novel/start my own restaurant/become a professional musician, etc.) but I don’t have the time.” In that case, the Two of Swords indicates that they should try to find the time, because they have the ability to succeed. It also indicates that this could be a challenge, perhaps because they are already financially comfortable where they are, even if they aren’t fulfilled, and there are going to be considerations about keeping their family, or even just themselves, in a manor to which they have become accustomed until the new career is established. Not to mention the push back from friends and neighbours if the local solicitor, for example, rocks up teaching a yoga class one day. It will challenge their perceptions, which could be a negative pushback. But who are they making this change for, themselves or their neighbourhood critics?
It’s also worth considering that, because pentacles are about the material, this card could be related to a person’s physical health, which may have been neglected. In such a case, the Two of Swords is warning against turning a blind eye to what your body is telling you. Stop and listen to it, and seek professional medical help it seems appropriate.
As always, the interpretation of these two cards is going to depend on the question, any other cards around them, and any insight or intuition you might have during the reading.