Many therapists who use Tarot in their practice equate The Devil with the Jungian concept of shadow – i.e. 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 and 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
In Astrology, The Devil corresponds to Capricorn, the sea goat. 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. However, many modern/pagan decks choose to focus more on the lust aspect and choose a merry Pan as the archetype instead. In the Arcturian Tarot, I have chosen Nemesis for my Devil. I particularly like the fact that she holds an hourglass, which obviously links her to Saturn, ruler of Capricorn.
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 and 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 (Higher 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 Highest 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 One. 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 – a spirit which must be embraced 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 (as well as a reversed King of Cups on his own) 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 reversed Queen of Cups or the Queen of Cups together with The Devil.
The narcissistic personality type can be seen as either the reversed King of Wands or 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, depending on the other person to provide what you lack in yourself or even feeling 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 totally fabulous 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 a great sexual experience rather than a soulmate experience. Look for proximity to the Knight of Wands, Ace of Wands or 3 of Cups for confirmation on this.
Next to the 5 or 8 of cups, it could mean that you struggle with moving on from a bad relationship experience. Ask what you can learn from this in order to move on.
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. The shadow meaning (more Satan than Pan) of the Devil includes guilt or shame-driven sexual perversion as well as varying forms of sexual abuse.
The Marseille Tarot image in this post is from the CBD Tarot by Yoav Ben-Dov.