“We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.” ― Oscar Wilde
Spirit does it again. On the heels of last week's discussion about the Lovers, we are moved into the Devil card, XVth of the Major Arcana. You can tell the mood of a card by its background color, and truly the Devil is a dark card. Its imagery is haunting and overwhelmingly bleak. The Devil lifting his hand to silence or welcome you to Hell, holding a torch in the other, the Devil is replete with bat's wings, eagle's claws and a goat-man's head, perching above two enslaved figures. The figures, if you remember, on the Lovers. The upside pentacle on his forehead tells a story as well. It is the perversion of the material.
We all want for home, safety, security. There is no shame in that desire to provide and keep ourselves safe. But the Devil warns of more ominous attachments to the material--obsessive thinking, alcoholism, overeating, drug abuse, sex addiction, obsessive love, extramarital affairs, these are the attachments to the material that the Devil concerns itself with and warns against. The Devil is associated with the astrological sign Capricorn, and when I pull it, I use it to correspond with Root and Sacral Chakra issues.
This creature is not the fallen angel, Lucifer, nor is he the Devil we are taught about in traditional Western religion. He is an amalgamation of the aberrant, the feared, the stalking symbol of materialism and attachment. And in this way, as Marcia Masino points out, the Devil is purposely not a being we identify. He is all your fears together. The word Devil means the "Adversary" And often this adversary is ourselves, our own attachments to the material.
So often when I read for people, cards like the Devil are pulled and people groan or feel fearful at their imagery. But Tarot is not punishing, or changing your course. This is the energy around YOU right now. If you get honest, this is something you know about yourself already. The Devil is a reminder, a warning, that your attachment to things, to the material, to people, and even to fear itself is the problem. This is a reminder that you have shifted from your spiritual center, who you believe yourself to be or maybe who you want to be. What are your priorities? What are your beliefs, your boundaries, and your moral compass? Because the Devil reminds you that what you are doing is far from those things. You have drifted, the card reminds you, from your Higher Power, or your guides, or Love, if that is your belief, the Universe's plan--most importantly, it reminds you that you have drifted from yourself.
Often, I find this card has come to represent addiction--to something or someone. Sometimes it has come to represent someone else's addiction, and our addiction to their addiction. With the Devil, this often represents addiction to a relationship or another person. But it can be anything--shopping, eating, drinking, drugs, sex, watching television. These soul sedatives, as Athena called them, numb us and block our pathway to our Highest Good. And you know, those things worked for us. Alcohol worked for the alcoholic at some point, possible from extreme self-consciousness or from physical or sexual abuse, from trauma the child is not able to face. It numbs us. But then it stops working, and starts causing the problems--losing jobs, friends, getting arrested, or just feeling depressed or ashamed day after day. We have to remember that the Tarot is not judging us, we are judging honest. Can you get honest? Do you want to get honest about what is holding you back from your true purpose in life?
The work we do along the way to our soul's path is rocky. We often have to face hard truths about ourselves during the course of our lifetime. This Devil card asks you to look at the hard truth of HOW you are using the material. See, eating cupcakes isn't a problem. You enjoy a cupcake. Who doesn't? But what if you are eating a cupcake every time you have a conversation with your mother? Are we facing the truth about those conversations? Are we dealing with them? How are we using the cupcake? So, when you pull the Devil in one of those hard positions, take out the judgment. Remember that the cupcake or the clandestine relationship, or the alcohol worked for you. Thank it, and then tell it that is has ceased being useful for you. That you are ready to feel all the emotions that you are meant to feel. See, we are spiritual beings having a human experience. We feel deeply, passionately. We are here to learn lessons. If we numb those feelings, our lessons are never quite learned, never realized, never actualized.
So, this is what the Devil asks of you. He challenges you to see yourself as your own worst energy. What are you afraid of? What are you attached to that isn't serving your highest good? What binds you? What keeps you in bondage and makes you feel prisoner? Is it fear itself? And most importantly, what are you willing to let go of to experience true happiness and freedom? Serenity is right there, if only you can take off your chains and grab hold of it.
Marcia Masino has a great affirmation for the Devil card:
I am a Divine Being of Light, a child of God. I am loved, protected, and enveloped in white light.
What do you think of the Devil? What are you wrestling with? How does the Devil card feel to you?