The Devil is one of the most cinematic cards in the pack and is often used in films for dramatic effect. This is a card that typically shows up as a bad omen. But is The Devil always a dark and negative card? Not by a long shot. All 78 Keys contain the full spectrum of light and dark and that is true of The Devil too.
Positive Tarot Card Meanings for The Devil
- Personal Power: The Devil card can symbolise harnessing personal power and taking control of your own life. It reminds you that you have the ability to overcome challenges and create positive change.
- Playfulness: The Devil, in its positive aspect, can represent a sense of playfulness and spontaneity. It encourages you to be indulgent. Sometimes it’s good to be a little bit bad.
- Transformation and Growth: This card signifies an opportunity for transformation and growth. It encourages you to confront your self-imposed limitations, leading to personal evolution and self-discovery.
- Passion and Sensuality: The Devil represents a strong connection to passion and sensuality. It encourages you to embrace your desires and explore your sensual nature, fostering a deeper connection with yourself and others.
Negative Tarot Card Meanings for The Devil
- Addiction and Obsession: The Devil can symbolise addictive behaviours and unhealthy attachments. It warns against becoming enslaved by material possessions, substances, or toxic relationships.
- Control and Manipulation: This card represents power struggles and manipulation in relationships. It advises you to be cautious of those who seek to exert control over you or exploit your vulnerabilities.
- Delusion and Illusion: The Devil can indicate a state of illusion or delusion where you are unable to see the truth clearly. It urges you to question your own thoughts and beliefs to avoid being deceived.
- Temptations: The Devil signifies negative influences or temptations that may lead you astray from your true path. It serves as a reminder to stay focused and resist the allure of instant gratification.
Remember, the interpretation of tarot cards can vary depending on the context and the surrounding cards in a reading.
Tuning into the Energy of the Devil Tarot Card
When The Devil in a reading or as our Tarot card of the day, we must often face a shadow aspect of ourselves. The question to ask ourselves is ‘What am I repressing and projecting onto others?’
Essentially, The Devil acts as the guardian of the threshold of our Higher Self. We cannot fully embody our true selves until we have looked honestly within and alchemised/integrated those unloved and shadowy parts of ourselves that we tend to ascribe to others in order to avoid them.
The battle with this guardian intensifies any time we get close to having a breakthrough. So take heart when The Devil shows up. Yes, you are being tested but as long as you move forward with honesty and integrity, you will pass and enter into a more illuminated phase of your life. And the light will come from within your own soul that is drawing more power from its Higher Self.
Tarot Psychology and The Devil
Therapists who use Tarot in their practice usually equate The Devil with the Jungian concept of shadow. The shadow represents that within ourselves which we struggle to own up to and therefore project onto others. The scapegoat is one such projection but there are many, more subtle versions. We even project what Jung termed the golden shadow onto those more successful than ourselves so that we won’t have to own/be responsible for our own power.
“Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour … If at my convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?”
~ Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
The Devil You Know
Many traditional Tarot deck artists have chosen to depict a Christian-style devil with horns, often together with the man and woman found in The Lovers card chained and in bondage under his tyranny. This couple represents the integration of opposites via soul alchemy in both The Lovers and The Devil cards. In the Devil card, however, we are faced with a pretty huge chunk of darkness that must be transmuted in order to be integrated.
Many modern/pagan decks choose to focus more on the lust aspect and choose a merry Pan as the archetype instead.
In some ways, it doesn’t really matter which of these (or some other more abstract concept) we choose for Arcanum XV because all of them are chosen to touch on that which is taboo. And that which is taboo is always a temptation. It is how we choose to relate to the temptation that is the real issue at hand.
Notice how choice recurs as a theme in this 6 (15=1+5=6) vibration card just as in Arcanum VI, The Lovers. Temptation, you could say, is the price we pay for having free will.
Codependency, shame and guilt
When it comes to other people and how we relate to them, the Devil often indicates codependency, addictions and other relationship patterns that rule the roost from the subconscious mind. But it can also mean indulging in sex with complete abandon – pure and simple – as well as the shame/guilt that accompanies sexual acts.
Shame is only relevant if we believe there is something to be ashamed of. Consensual sex between two adults is no cause for shame (unless they are cheating). However, sexual perversion can also be indicated by The Devil. Look to surrounding cards for clues.
Angelic correspondence: The Higher Self (Guardian of the Threshold)
Zodiac sign: Capricorn
Chakra: Root Chakra
Colour: Grey, dark brown, black, indigo
Crystal: Malachite, black onyx, garnet, jet, obsidian, tourmaline, turquoise
Body: Skeleton, skin, teeth, knees & genitals
Exercise: Bodybuilding (increases bone density)
Stance/Pose: Utkatasana (strengthens muscles around the knees)
Magickal Tool/Ingredient: Patchouli incense/leaves
Associated Major Arcana Cards (through numerology): The Lovers
Associated Minor Arcana Cards
2 of Pentacles (Jupiter in Capricorn). Healing comes through expansion in the material domain, one step at a time, keeping an organic rhythm and staying guided by opportunity rather than lack and limitations.
3 of Pentacles (Mars in Capricorn). Learning to work together with others without trying to control them or criticising them will have a healing effect.
4 of Pentacles (Sun in Capricorn). Healing comes from staying grounded and moving forward in the direction of one’s ambition.
Queen of Pentacles – “The devil makes work for idle hands.” Well, he will never catch this Queen slacking! My own grandmother exemplifies this queen. Here is a list of some of the things she excelled at: Gardening, cooking, molybdomancy (divination with molten lead), farming, knitting, weaving, embroidery, sewing, leatherwork, metalwork, woodwork, beadwork… the list goes on… and on…
Remedies to increase the energy of The Devil in your life
- You can make a tarot essence to harness and increase the energy of the Devil card, using a card from the deck of your choice, along with any of the crystals above that you feel drawn to work with
- Find a way of making lots of money
- Study the competition to learn how to get the edge (increase ambition)
- Create a schedule and stick to it
- Wear sexy black underwear
- Run around naked in the forest and invoke Pan
- Give in to temptation
- Resist temptation
Balancing, grounding and banishing the influence of the Devil card
Because of the dual nature of this card, there is only one countermeasure which offsets or transcends both the Chaos and the very strict Discipline invoked through this archetype and that is to pray, fast and wait for Holy Spirit guidance as per The Hanged Man.
Affirmation: I defer to my Higher Self in all decisions I make and surround myself with the protection of the Heavenly Hosts.
Angelic Invocation to Your Higher Self:
O Guardian of the Threshold, save me from projections, illusions and delusions! Guide me to a state of grace and surrender with every breath I take. Teach me to cherish the stillness that reconnects me with Source and help me know deeply that I am safe in the arms of the Divine. Amen and so it is!
Love and Relationships
A good question to ask oneself when The Devil shows up in a reading is “Does this situation, thought, person or relationship limit my freedom in any way?”
Sometimes the limiting thought is something that keeps us from engaging in pleasures of the flesh because of guilt programming by society and our parents. There is a Pan-like wild spirit quality to The Devil. This is a spirit we need to embrace for our vitality levels to stay high. The reversal of The Devil could be a sign of being a prisoner to shame and/or convention.
Numerologically, XV (15) The Devil resonates with the VI (6) of The Lovers (1+5=6). The numbers 1 and 5 are significant in terms of understanding the struggle the ego (1) experiences when the Higher Self strives toward liberation through life’s lessons (5).
Sometimes The Devil can signify counterfeit love. It looks like the real deal but on a gut level, you know that something’s not quite right. Always pay attention to the red flags when The Devil shows up! The Devil together with the 2 of Cups reversed should be a huge warning flag if you think ‘this might be it’… It’s most likely not it.
Codependency and power dynamics
In the Tarot, The Devil card is often an indication of a codependent dynamic in a relationship. The Devil indicates power over another rather than the power of love represented by The Lovers. The mind influenced by The Devil is completely owned by the ego and dances at the end of the puppet strings of its fears. This mindset could represent two sides of the same coin, i.e. both the addict/narcissist and the codependent person. Essentially, both have signed a contract of emotional bondage.
Delusion becomes a major component when you find The Devil together with the 7 of Cups. An abundance of Cups cards with The Devil as a central card/theme or The Devil next to the King of Cups can signify addiction issues. Another main theme is lies/deceit – represented by The Devil + the 7 of Swords.
The Lovers together with The Devil shows you a relationship with the potential to be redeemed if both parties start making different choices. The Devil together with Temperance or The Star shows that healing can begin thanks to an influx of and increased receptivity to divine grace.
The codependent personality type can be seen as the Queen of Cups paired with The Devil.
The self-absorbed personality type can be seen as the King of Wands together with The Devil.
A hostage situation
When The Devil shows up in relationships that aren’t codependent, chances are you’re holding each other hostage for your happiness. You could depend on the other person to provide what you lack in yourself or even feel as if they owe you this.
Liberation and self-sufficiency come to those who are willing to embrace their own shadow and face their neediness. A book which could help you with this is The Soulmate Experience: A Practical Guide to Creating Extraordinary Experiences.
Single and looking
To the single person, The Devil could mean that you (or your love interest) are more interested in having lots of sex rather than a deep emotional connection. Look for proximity to the Knight of Wands, Ace of Wands or 3 of Cups for confirmation on this.
Sex and The Devil
Sexually, The Devil can mean total abandon and even orgies. Again, this ties in with the connection to the wild energy of Pan. At the dark extreme end of the spectrum, the Devil can indicate guilt or shame-driven sexual perversion as well as varying forms of sexual abuse.