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Intro to Tarot the Fool's Circle

Communication Central

Tarot - the Fool's Circle of Life

The Devil

by Danielle Astrid Ricard

For ease in writing, I will use the gender pronoun that best matches the illustration below - no sexism intended. To listen to Musical accompaniment, look for a small link in the text!

This Archetype is number 15 of 22 Trump or Major Arcana cards in the Tarot. While the remaining pip and court cards portray more mundane realities, these cards represent higher energies, karmic forces, powers beyond our control, and superhuman strengths. In the Thoth Tarot deck, the Devil is ruled by Capricorn

The Devil

The Devil - Roehrig Tarot

~ Fear, Attachment, Cruelty ~

Most religious traditions and spiritual practices serve to distract us from worldly cares and direct our attention to a higher social and spiritual vision. We are asked to have faith, to examine our actions, and to behave according to a prescribed set of rules that demands that we help others, and hurt no one.

The Devil represents that spirit who does not play by these rules! Now before you take all the following in - there is a positive side to this card as well.. for a sneak preview, click here!

The Devil, man or woman, child or elder - steps on everything and everyone to get where he wants to go, and attain that which he desires. He represents the lowest expression of humanity. What may be shocking to hear is that most of us, at some time in our lives, has been this demon.

What makes the Devil act so selfishly, and without regard for others? This may sound strange - but the Devil lives in FEAR, and Fear is what motivates him.

Fear is the opposite of Love. True love gives unconditionally, and trusts without question. The Devil cannot love or trust - he assumes that everything important in his life will fall apart if he does not FORCE his hand, and grasp all that he can.

It is the people who live in fear who torment the faithful, and who need our patience and love. They need to get a spritual grip.

The Devil is attached to that which he desires. He is afraid to let go, because he is weak in spirit, and lacking in love and trust. So he enslaves, deceives and acts with violence. He is the rapist, thief, abuser, murderer, spy, torturer and tormentor. He holds people hostage, and conceals his weaknesses with lies. There is no end to the damage he can do - but ultimately, the greatest damage is to himself.

The Devil - Rider-Waite

Do you see how the man and woman are chained to the Devil in the card above? They are enslaved by their desires - bound by unrelenting needs. They may be addicted to some habit or person that is not serving their higher purpose. They could be stuck in the past - unable to let go of resentment and anger. They could be living a life of debauchery and excess, unconscious of the damage it may do.

In a reading this card can be very hard to swallow. Sometimes it simply indicates an intense desire. At other times, it is pointing out some greed, cruelty or unreasonable attachment - either inflicted upon the querent, or imposed on others. Quite simply, when the Pentacle is upside down - matter is used for the wrong purpose, words and deeds do more harm than good. The Devil is a bad, bad boy!

So, while you're red-faced yelling nasty things at someone, consider for a moment who is suffering more. The person you are haranguing is probably, at least for the moment, the innocent victim of your selfish worries and insecurities. In the meantime, you are swallowed alive, poisoned and possessed by rage - you are the Devil's minion.

The Devil even rears his ugly head in small ways - when a child grabs a toy from another child, when a man or woman lusts after the wife or husband of a friend, when someone never shares possession of the precious channel changer, and when another eats up that tasty dish that was meant for everyone. Small things, but they do add up.

Sometimes we are sadly victimized by 'el Diablo'. When such is the case, it is better not to feed the fire that rages within the devil's heart - but rather to show compassion, detachment and an understanding that everyone needs love - especially those who feel so lacking and desperate. Also, we must hold those victimizers accountable for what they do, and refuse to tolerate such treatment.

On the upside of the Devil's meaning - there are those people who give too much. You may be one of those sweet, giving, spiritual souls who ignores your own needs in favor of pleasing and caring for others - sometimes to your detriment. If this is the case, the Devil may appear in a reading to say "take it, get it, you need it... this is important to you!" Often the Devil is a necessary ally - not as a real entity of course, but as the concept of manifesting that which we need. There are times when attachment - to a cause, a purpose, or a person - is an essential step in our lives. In all the imagery we see a look of great determination. He has tremendous strength of purpose - a must have, must do attitude! It is very important to read the Devil within the context of surrounding cards to determine whether he is signifying advice, warning, or admonishment!

The Devil shows many faces, and appears in many cultures. In the Mythic Tarot - he is mischievous Pan who's only looking for a little fun. In the Tarot of the Old Path he is Temptation, in the Medicine Woman Tarot he is the Trickster, and signifies a false idea, while in the Inner Child Cards, he is the Big Bad Wolf. The Transition Tarot portrays him as Ammit, the Egyptian Crocodile god - devourer of souls who punishes the wicked. In the Tarot of the Rishis, the Devil is the feminine Hindu god Kali-Ma - the destroyer, and in the Whimsical Tarot he is Pinocchio, with scissors in his pocket, oblivious to the fact that he can cut his strings whenever he wants. (now wasn't he a selfish, misled little boy!) The Devil has many faces, and wears many masks, but however we may characterize him, the key concept seems to be "me first, think later!"

Back to Intro - and Links to Other Pages in this Series

MEDITATION: Contemplate your role as The Devil. Have you ever been this archetype, or his victim?

PERSONAL DISCUSSIONS: When have you felt the energy of The Devil? Have you seen it in other people? Have you had happy/sad experiences with this energy?

TAROT EXPERIENCE: Recalling a time when you may have you drawn this card, what were the circumstances surrounding it, and what did it mean to you? How do you feel this archetype affects the cards that come before or after?


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